I practice intermittent fasting pretty consistently. Although it’s not for everyone, it works for me. There are different types of fasting and it’s not for everybody but there is research that shows how fasting for certain periods of time can be beneficial, including slowing down aging.
What is Fasting?
A simple definition of fasting: “The act of willingly abstaining from all food, and in some cases drink, for a pre-determined period of time.” People fast for different reasons ranging from spiritual to health, with most people focusing on what is known as intermittent fasting which isn’t a diet as much as it is an eating pattern. Common methods involve daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours twice a week.
The Benefits of Fasting
Fasting has many benefits, and those related to aging and living longer include the following:
- It reduces your insulin resistance – cutting the risk of diabetes by half
- It cuts the risk of cancer by half
- It boosts the immune system
- It cuts the risk of heart disease
The Fasting Mimicking Diet
In 2014, academics at the University of Southern California discovered that fasting can regenerate the entire immune system. This same team found, in 2015, that a calorie-restricted diet of mostly vegetable soups and chamomile tea has the same effect. Calling it the Fasting Mimicking Diet, the team says that people need to follow these restrictions for only five days a month and can eat their ‘normal’ diet the other days of the month. All while receiving the benefits of a regenerated immune system that will add years to their lifespan.
The Fasting Mimicking Diet is easy to follow because it is only for five days and it’s more of a restricted calorie intake process rather than pure, true fasting. It is also made up of easy to find foods. And it is the one diet that has been shown to be the most effective for reducing signs of aging and helping you to live longer, with the potential to add several years of life. More importantly, it has a major impact on diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and other age-related disease.
What does this diet look like?
Day one of the diet:
- 10% protein, 56% fat, and 34% carbohydrate, making 1,090 calories
Days two to five:
- 9% protein, 44% fat, and 47% carbohydrate, making 725 calories
Example Lunch Recipe
Cucumber, fennel, and salmon salad
1¾ oz brown rice
3½ oz salmon fillet
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, chopped
½ cucumber, diced
¼ fennel bulb, diced
2 cherry tomatoes, diced
1 tsp coriander, chopped
1 tsp parsley, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
Boil the rice in salted water for 20 minutes, or until tender. Coat the salmon with the ginger and garlic and grill for 10 minutes. Flake into a bowl and leave to cool. Mix together the rest of the ingredients, scatter over the salmon and serve with the rice.
Total: 302 calories (with rice)
Example Dinner Recipe
Scallops with pancetta and leeks
2 paper-thin 8g slices of pancetta or bacon (70 cals)
3 medium-sized scallops (75 cals)
50g sliced, washed leeks (30 cals)
80g peas (fresh or frozen) (62 cals)
fronds from six sprigs of dill (1 cal)
30g wild rocket leaves (9 cals)
Total: 247 calories
Cut the pancetta slices in half and cook in a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat until the fat runs and the pancetta browns and crisps. Scoop out onto a plate and keep to one side. Cut each scallop into two discs and pat dry on kitchen paper. Cook in the pan with the pancetta fat for a couple of minutes on each side, until browned. Lift them onto the pancetta plate. Add the leeks to the pan and cook in the last of the scallop and pancetta juices until soft. Add the peas and cook, stirring, until the peas are hot through. Stir in most of the dill, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
You can look online for ‘fasting recipes’ for more ideas and pay attention to the calorie count and amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. With proper planning for the diet you can extend your life, improve your health, and not feel deprived while on it.