Mass Spectrometry & Spectroscopy
What Does Fasting Do to Your Body?
Mar 25 2019 Read 883 Times
While the highly-publicised 5:2 diet attracted a slew of criticism, new findings from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University have confirmed that fasting boosts the human metabolism and could even unlock anti-aging benefits.
Led by a team of researchers at the G0 Cell Unit and Kyoto University, the study suggests that fasting forces the body into 'starvation mode' which encourages a process known as fuel substitution and increases mitochondrial activation, as well as ramps up antioxidation and alters signal transduction.
Scientists identify substances associated with health benefits
The new study was published in the journal Scientific Reports and identified 30 previously-unreported substances that increase when the body is deprived of food. The team asserts that not only can fasting help people lose weight, but that the substances associated with food deprivation can unlock a host of health benefits.
"We have been researching aging and metabolism for many years and decided to search for unknown health effects in human fasting," explains Dr. Takayuki Teruya, lead author of the paper and OIST G0 Cell Unit technician. "Contrary to the original expectation, it turned out that fasting induced metabolic activation rather actively."
Fasting boosts metabolites levels, unlocks anti-ageing actions
After extracting blood, plasma and red blood cells from four fasting participants, the researchers monitored changes in metabolites levels, which generate energy and support cellular growth. They found that of the 44 metabolites recorded, 30 increased significantly during a 58-hour fasting period.
In a previous study, the G0 Cell Unit identified multiple metabolites that decline with age, including isoleucine, leucine and ophthalmic acid. In fasting individuals several metabolites associated with ageing increased in level, which suggests that abstaining from food could increase longevity and unlock anti-ageing benefits.
"These are very important metabolites for maintenance of muscle and antioxidant activity, respectively," asserts Teruya. "This result suggests the possibility of a rejuvenating effect by fasting, which was not known until now."
Teruya refers to how fasting triggers an increase in substances produced by the citric acid cycle, a process that allows organisms to harness energy stored in carbohydrates, lipids and proteins. The heightened activity suggests that fasting kicks cells into overdrive and promotes not only weight loss, but also health benefits like an increase in the metabolisation of purine and pyrimidine, which can boost antioxidant production and help protect cells from free radicals.
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