Study finds fasting-mimicking diet may reduce biological age and disease risk

Three cycles of FMD found to lower biological age by 2.5 years along with reduced insulin resistance, lower hepatic fat, and improved immune system function.

A new study published in Nature this week suggests that a fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) may be able to reduce biological age and disease risk. Low in protein and carbohydrates, and high in healthy fats, FMD is a diet that mimics the effects of fasting without the need to completely abstain from food. Participants consume around 500-600 calories per day over a five day period – less than half the typical daily intake of 2,000 calories.

The study, which involved two clinical trials and a total of 100 participants, found that people who completed three cycles of FMD, spaced four months apart, had reduced insulin resistance, lower hepatic fat, and improved immune system function. Additionally, participants’ biological age was estimated to be 2.5 years younger on average, based on the 10-biomarker NHANES measure of biological age.

The findings suggest that FMD may be a beneficial intervention for promoting healthy aging, in part due to its ability to reduce inflammation and improve cellular repair mechanisms. The researchers also suggest that FMD may help protect against age-related diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, but say that more research is needed to confirm these results and to determine the diet’s long-term effects.

Renowned biogerontologist and cell biologist Dr Valter Longo is the man behind FMD, and whose research earned him a place on TIME Magazine’s list of the 50 most influential people in healthcare in 2018.

“I think the more extreme approaches, such as daily caloric restriction, are too much for most people, which is why I’m really optimistic about the fasting-mimicking diet,” Longo previously told us. “People can do it two or three times a year and then do what they need to do for the rest of the year. We’ve already had hundreds of thousands of people, tens of thousands of doctors, and many clinical trials using it around the world.”

Based on his work, Longo founded longevity nutrition company L-Nutra, which offers a range of food products designed to mimic many of the effects of fasting. The company’s flagship ProLon meal program is essentially a food box filled with five-days’ worth of specially developed powdered soups, bars, liquids, and nutritional supplements.

“It’s a low calorie diet, but it’s also tricking your cells into thinking they aren’t getting any food, so we keep your body in fasting mode during these five days,” L-Nutra CEO Joseph Antoun told us. “So your cells are receiving some of the nutrients but not in an acute high dose, so you’re getting the nutrients but the stress on the cells is still there, which in many ways is even better than water fasting.”

READ MORE: Valter Longo on fasting and longevity