Intermittent fasting is considered health-promoting and increases the chance of a longer life – but which meal should you avoid? A new study has answers.
According to numerous studies, the formula for a longer life is very simple: A healthy diet, combined with a slight calorie restriction, embedded in a specific mealtime window. A new study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has found which meals to skip to live longer.
Study of nutrition and longevity in mice
Mice typically live about two years. This makes them perfect candidates for investigating simple dietary interventions that can extend their short lives. Over a period of four years, the scientists tried different strategies on hundreds of mice. The results were recently published in the journal “Science”.1 A first finding: just a slightly reduced calorie diet gave the animals a ten percent longer lifespan. Incidentally, this also applies to humans, as a study from Yale found out at the beginning of the year (FITBOOK reported). Here it was shown that only 14 percent fewer calories a day are sufficient to activate “anti-aging processes” in the cells.
Live longer by avoiding late meals
When intermittent fasting is usually allowed within a time window of 8 hours eaten while fasting for the remaining 16 hours. This means: one of the usual three main meals should be avoided. Most people choose to skip breakfast because it’s easier. In the case of the mice, it turned out that if you only feed them at their most active time – in their case at night – their lifespan increased by 35 percent. They gained an impressive nine months. “For humans, an analogous plan would limit eating to the time of day,” reads a university statement.2 That means: Start the day with a hearty breakfast, then a wholesome lunch and later go to bed without supper.
Eat less at the right time
The research team describes their study as “promising and groundbreaking.” So it’s not just about what and how much we eat, but above all when. Previously known experiments in animals and humans report weight loss, improved glucose regulation, lower blood pressure and reduced inflammation. Scientists are just beginning to understand how calorie restriction slows aging at the cellular and genetic levels. The older an animal or human gets, the more active inflammatory genes become. However, if we eat at our most active time of the day – i.e. exclusively in the morning and at noon – not eating meals at night seems to extremely slow down the aging process of the cells.
Also interesting: The two most important nutritional rules for a long life
Can our internal clock be adjusted with a pill?
Of all meals, dinner is probably the one that very few people want to do without – not even in order to live longer. Therefore, lead author Prof. Joseph Takahashi hopes that the problem can soon be solved with a kind of “cheat pill”: “If we find a drug that can change the body clock, we can test it in the laboratory and see , whether it prolongs life.” However, the inhabitants of the “Blue Zones” (regions in which people grow particularly old) like to eat long, hearty and late evenings (FITBOOK reported). The youth-keeping effect of enjoyment and sociability should therefore not be underestimated.