New research from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles identifies health benefits of periodic cycles of fasting for people with inflammation of the gut. It showed that the fasting mimicking diet reversed the effects of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), which includes Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis fasting (UC).
Published in the journal Cell Reports, the research showed that the fast mimicking diet, when compared to water-only fasting, partially reversed hallmarks of IBD in mice. They observed that the diet reduced inflammation and increased populations of stem cells in the intestines of the mice. The effects appeared, in part, to be due to an increase in beneficial gut bacteria.
Results from human trials also showed that the diet reduced the markers of inflammation and associated immune cells.
Taking both sets of results the researchers have concluded that a low-calorie, plant-based fasting mimicking diet is potentially an effective treatment for IBD.
Professor Valter Longo said that this investigation is the first IBD study to bring together 'two worlds of research'. The first (world), he explains, "is about what you should eat every day, and many studies point to a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, and olive oil. The second is intermittent fasting and its effects on inflammation, regeneration, and ageing."
"Fasting is hard to stick to and it can be dangerous," Longo said. "We know that the fasting mimicking diet is safer and easier than water-only fasting, but the big surprise from this study is that if you replace the fasting mimicking diet, which includes pre-biotic ingredients, with water, we don't see the same benefits."
He suggest that the reason that a water-based fast does not appear to be as effective as the fasting mimicking diet may be that while fasting produces many of the desired effects, the body still needs essential nutrients to do the rest. The fasting mimicking diet provides these nutrients while fasting.
The research paper can be viewed here, however, the key findings were:
- FMD cycles partially reverse IBD-related pathology compared to water-only fasting
FMD cycles reduce intestinal inflammatory and immune and increase regenerative markers
- FMD cycles promote the expansion of Lactobacillaceae and Bifidobacteriaceae
FMD cycles can reduce systemic inflammation and consequent leukocytosis in humans
Earlier clinical trials of the fasting mimicking diet saw reduced risk factors for many diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), type I and type II diabetes and heart disease.
As always, if you have any medical conditions, including IBDs, you should consult with your doctor before undertaking a 5 Box FMD fast or any other intermittent fasting regime.