LOS ANGELES, June 22 (UPI) -- A diet that mimics fasting decreased risk factors and biomarkers for aging, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer with no major adverse side effects in a small study by researchers at the University of Southern California.
The diet doesn't require any major changes to what people eat, except for five days per month when participants caloric intake is cut to between 35 and 55 percent of normal, which allows the body to cleanse and rejuvenate, the researchers said.
"It's about reprogramming the body so it enters a slower aging mode, but also rejuvenating it through stem cell-based regeneration," Valter Longo, Edna M. Jones Professor of Biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute, said in a press release. "It's not a typical diet because it isn't something you need to stay on."
Five days out of the month, participants were asked to stick to very specific diet designed for their bodies, broken down into a specific percentage of protein, fat and carbohydrates, which works out to a total number of calories for each day of the fast. The rest of the month, they could eat whatever they normally did.
Participants were measured every month, following the diet in three bimonthly cycles, and found to have positive effects with lower biomarkers for aging, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
"If the results remain as positive as the current ones, I believe this FMD will represent the first safe and effective intervention to promote positive changes associated with longevity and health span, which can be recommended by a physician," Longo said.
The study is published in Cell Metabolism.