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Fasting Role in Lifespan, Healthspan

Harvard researchers have found new evidence of the potential health and longevity benefits of fasting


Eat less. Live more.

That’s the oversimplified take-away from recent research from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which found that intermittent fasting might increase lifespan.

It did increase lifespan in nematode worms studied by the researchers. The researchers found that by restricting the worms’ diet, (or mimicking fasting by manipulating a particular protein,) they could keep networks of mitochondria in a “youthful” state, that is, they could slow down the aging process, according to a report on the research in the Harvard Gazette.

The study on the research was published back in October in Cell Metabolism.

“Low-energy conditions such as dietary restriction and intermittent fasting have previously been shown to promote healthy aging. Understanding why this is the case is a crucial step toward being able to harness the benefits therapeutically,” Heather Weir, lead author of the study, said in the Gazette. Weir conducted the research while at Harvard Chan School and is now a research associate at Astex Pharmaceuticals. “Our findings open up new avenues in the search for therapeutic strategies that will reduce our likelihood of developing age-related diseases as we get older.”

The researchers say they hope to next test the role of fasting on mitochondrial networks in mammals, and “whether defects in mitochondrial flexibility might explain the association between obesity and increased risk for age-related diseases,” according to the Gazette.

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