Diet that mimics fasting for brain growth and starves cancer

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To effectively starve cancer, increase brain growth and to lose weight, a diet mimicking fasting has proven to work in combo with some chemo that it is now being used.

To begin to understand the effects of a fasting-like diet on people, the team organized a pilot randomized clinical trial involving 38 healthy subjects ages 18 to 70. Half of the group were randomized into a control group that ate normally, returning for testing at the end of the three-month study.

The other half went through three five-day-long monthly cycles of the fasting-mimicking diet. Their food — all plant-based, with low carbohydrates, low protein and high levels of healthy fat — was delivered to them in a box and included powdered soups, nut bars and chips.  It provided about 1,090 calories on the first day and about 725 calories on Days 2 through 5.


Dietary composition and calorie level are key factors affecting aging and age-related diseases (Antosh et al., 2011, Blagosklonny et al., 2009,Fontana et al., 2010Gems and Partridge, 2013, López-Otín et al., 2013, Tatar et al., 2003). Dietary restriction (DR) promotes metabolic and cellular changes that affect oxidative damage and inflammation, optimize energy metabolism, and enhance cellular protection (Haigis and Yankner, 2010, Johnson et al., 2000, Lee et al., 2012b, Longo and Finch, 2003, Mair and Dillin, 2008, Narasimhan et al., 2009,Smith et al., 2008).

Fasting, the most extreme form of DR, which entails the abstinence from all food, but not water, can be applied in a chronic manner as intermittent fasting (IF) or periodically as cycles of prolonged fasting (PF) lasting 2 or more days (Longo and Mattson, 2014). In rodents, IF promotes protection against diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and neuro-degeneration (Longo and Mattson, 2014). In humans, IF and less-severe regimens (e.g., consumption of approximately 500 kcal/day for 2 days a week) have beneficial effects on insulin, glucose, C-reactive protein, and blood pressure (Harvie et al., 2011).

PF cycles lasting 2 or more days, but separated by at least a week of a normal diet, are emerging as a highly effective strategy to protect normal cells and organs from a variety of toxins and toxic conditions (Raffaghello et al., 2008,Verweij et al., 2011) while increasing the death of many cancer cell types (Lee et al., 2012a, Shi et al., 2012).

PF causes a decrease in blood glucose, insulin, and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) (Lee et al., 2010) and is accompanied by autophagy (Cuervo et al., 2005, Madeo et al., 2010). Recently, we have shown that PF causes a major reduction in the levels of white blood cells followed by stem-cell-based immune system regeneration upon refeeding (Cheng et al., 2014). Others have reported on the role of PF in causing major decreases in liver and body mass in rats (Wasselin et al., 2014).

However, prolonged water-only fasting is difficult for the great majority of the population, and its extreme nature could cause adverse effects, which include the exacerbation of previous malnourishments and dysfunctions, particularly in old and frail subjects. These concerns point to the need for dietary interventions that induce PF-like effects while minimizing the risk of adverse effects and the burden of complete food restriction.

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