HealthDay News — Intermittent fasting has multiple health benefits, according to a review article published in the Dec. 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Rafael de Cabo, Ph.D., and Mark P. Mattson, Ph.D., from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health in Baltimore, describe intermittent fasting regimens and findings from preclinical and clinical studies that tested these regimens in healthy persons and in patients with metabolic disorders.

The authors note that the three most widely studied intermittent fasting regimens are alternate-day fasting, 5:2 intermittent fasting (fasting two days each week), and daily time-restricted feeding. In humans, intermittent fasting regimens can improve obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and inflammation. The health benefits conferred can be attributed to more than just a reduction in caloric intake. In animals and humans, intermittent fasting improves physical function. In addition, studies in animals demonstrate enhanced cognition in multiple domains, and three clinical trials have shown improvement in verbal memory, executive function, global cognition, and working memory. Improvements have also been noted in many health conditions, including obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cancers, surgical and ischemic tissue injury, and neurologic disorders.

“By further understanding the processes that link intermittent fasting with broad health benefits, we may be able to develop targeted pharmacologic therapies that mimic the effects of intermittent fasting without the need to substantially alter feeding habits,” the authors write.

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