Eat, Fast and Live Longer: BBC Horizon 2012

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Categories: Health Medicine Science

Eat, Fast and Live Longer explores the recently accepted concept that fasting is key to longevity in the human being. Here science takes the lead to discover what can be done to change the way we live. No pills, no medicines simply fasting.

This revolutionary insight looks at a 101 year old Indian man who runs marathons; here we see him running in the London marathon and is happy that the secret lies in what and how much he eats. Mr Singh is remarkable and has never had surgery and never takes medicine…his diet is a simple diet of fresh food and eats normally only a childs type portion.

A scientific theory has been existent for as long as Mr Singh has been alive … it is this theory that Michael Moseley examines in this documentary.

It isn’t just what we eat but how and when we eat it…following from the Great Depression 1929 – 1033 remarkably, life expectancy rose by 6 years. What is the link between calorie restriction and longevity? Professor Luigi Fontana has conducted studies of many people who have restricted their diets.

Meet the CRONIs (Calorie Restrictor on Optimal Nutrition) who eat bucket loads of fruit…and in many instances they eat just the skins and not the main part of the fruit!! 1900 cals per day v 2300 cals per day and this is the basis of a challenge between one of the CRONIs and Michael when they head to a fitness centre to be assessed. Body fat 11% in the CRONI V 27.1% in Michael. The results are very damning and quite conclusive from these tests. The thought is that these results can be reversed by a year on the new diet.

We try now to see if the benefits of this diet can be replicated in a way which avoids the necessity to embark on this extreme diet. In the lab there are genetically engineered mice which demonstrate a fantastic difference in life expectancy. A look at a certain population within Ecuador demonstrates that none of them have died of cancer or diabetes but they are small, dwarf-like persons. IGF1 is a growth hormone which has a considerable affect upon certain people…but is there a link?

Protein is a link…which pushes us to drive forward instead of slowing us down. How do we lower IGF1…fasting… 3 days and 4 nights of fasting can show very impressive results….water, black tea and one 50 cal cuppa soup… Sitting in a Korean restaurant having eaten nothing all day is not a fantastic thought.

Hunger does not build and build but comes in waves which pass…glucose stores are depleted and you then start burning fat deposits and the liver produces less IGF1; or that is the theory on test here….has it been worthwhile? The IGF_1 dropped by a half and reduces changes of cancer. This is an incredible discovery.

Along with a change in diet, fasting will need to be once every couple of months to maintain this dramatic change…but is there anything better which is less difficult to achieve? On to another study in Chicago where the research seems easier….alternate day restrictions. Fast day..feed day…fast day…feed day. Animal and human trials seem to indicate this is a much more palatable mechanism to achieve results.

Eat whatever you want on the feed day…then eat controlled food on the fast day.

Finally, Baltimore and the affects of ageing on the brain. Another mouse takes centre stage and these mice put on the feed/fast diet against standard diet and the results are incredible. Sporadic bouts of hunger actually trigger new neurons to grow…possibly in terms of evolutionary terms it assists survival…fasting does seem to make you sharper!!

Simple conclusion: Alternate day fasting is definitely better than continual calorie restriction.

Micheal is going to embark upon a 5 days normal and 2 days fasting diet….then test and describe the results after 5 weeks on the diet.

His Initial Results:

  • Lost over a stone (14 lbs)
  • Body fat down from 27% to 20%
  • IGF-1 dropped by 50%
  • Diabetic glucose back to normal
  • Cholesterol great improvement.

Find out more about the 5:2 Fasting Diet.

Or try this book!

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