Is Intermittent Fasting Key To Longer, Healthier Lives?

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Is Intermittent Fasting Key To Longer, Healthier Lives?

New research suggests that an eating plan with intermittent fasting, rather than eating three meals a day, may fight obesity and help fight against diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Find out how the experts weigh in.

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A recent scientific review suggests that intermittent fasting, likely an adaptation from our hunter-gatherer ancestors, gives the body time to repair itself against tumors, inflammation and other body stressors.

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However, intermittent fasting can have mixed results, one nutritionist told ABC News. Limiting food intake could compromise overall nutrition and lead to rebound overeating or difficulty falling or staying asleep. Fasting may also lose muscle mass in addition to fat.

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Intermittent fasting is becoming popular around the world, due in part to books like The 5:2 Diet by Kate Harrison and The Fast Diet by Michael Mosley. NPR reports that variations of mini-fasts exist, like the 5-2 diet, where individuals eat a low-calorie, high-protein diet twice a week.

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As it turns out, eating three square meals a day may not be best!

A recent scientific review suggests that intermittent fasting could help fight against obesity and diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Researchers say that previous animal and human studies provide mounting evidence that "intermittent energy restriction periods of as little as 16 h can improve health indicators and counteract disease processes."

Researchers explain that the human body may have adapted to function best while fasting because ancient hunter-gatherers ate intermittently, reports Live Science. Analysis of prior animal studies suggest that fasting gives the body time to repair itself; for example, fasting starves tumors or reduces inflammation. Intermittent fasting means eating less than 500 calories two days of the week or every other day, or skipping breakfast and lunch several days of the week.

According to the the article, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month, the most common eating pattern of three meals per day plus snacks found in modern societies "is abnormal from an evolutionary perspective."

However, researchers say more studies are necessary to fully understand the effects of intermittent fasting on the human body and which populations can benefit from it.

Check out the slideshow above to discover how the experts weight in on intermittent fasting.

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