Does intermittent fasting increase life expectancy?

At first, many embark on the fasting journey for the almost immediate benefits of fat loss on the body. What a lot of people do not realise, is that Intermittent fasting has a profound effect on your longevity, providing benefits beyond what many other diets can. Realistically, many wonder why they hadn’t started this journey a long time ago, saving themselves endless hours wasted on restrictive and calorie controlled diets, filled with mindless bouts of exercise.

The health benefits of IF

The health benefits are astounding. Micro fasts support metabolic health by improving your insulin levels, & controlling body weight. Other benefits include cardiovascular support and an increased brain function. Short term fasts are a very credible and realistic life style choice, and can be implemented to suit anyones schedule.

Prolonged fasting on the other hand (more than 48 hours) have some amazing benefits. These include immune strength, longevity and healthy ageing. Prolonged fasting has been shown to work well with chemotherapy. One theory is that cancer cells thrive and develop on glucose. Therefore, prolonged fasts act to starve cancer cells of their food and support anti -cancer immune efforts.

Here is an interesting piece of information that appeared in the 2014 study in Cell indicating the difference between micro and prolonged multi-day fasting.

“The physiological changes caused by PF are much more pronounced than those caused by caloric restriction or fasting lasting 24 hours or less in part because of the requirement to fully switch to a fat- and ketone bodies-based catabolism after glycogen reserves are depleted during PF.” 5

Cell growth balance

It’s important to note that when we consume too many calories, our bodies get into an anabolic state. When we fast, we shift the balance towards a system that is catabolic (breaking down) pathway. This activates IGF-1 (insulin growth factor) and mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin.)

This in itself, signals the cells and organelles in your body to become recycled and repurposed.

Reduced mTOR signals have been demonstrated to extend life span in different organisms. The mTOR inhibition has been largely identified as a longevity mechanism and the extension of lifespan. – Clinical interventions of ageing paper.

It has been noted by Dr Jason Fung that eating only fat (and no protein) could theoretically modulate mTOR positively. You can read more on this particular diet plan from any Dr Gundry’s books. He specialises in this, and makes it very easy to understand the medical jargon.


As we age, we’re more inclined to experience the effects of inflammation that may have began at a younger age. Sometimes this damage becomes so great, that it’s much like a chronic inflammatory illness. IF reduces inflammation and can improve cognitive function, preserving the brain against distress by regulation of inflammatory response pathway. IF therefore, is a great way to prevent age related damage that naturally occurs in the brain.

Final thoughts

Above we have outlined the many benefits of fasting. It is worth noting that there’s more than one way to trigger some of these responses. It’s also important to note that some of the health benefits occur during the fasting periods, and others are when we begin to eat normally again.

Remember that fasting primes our system for rejuvenation, but it’s the re-feeding that builds the new cells and organelles to increase health. Therefore, we must keep in mind that during the re-feeding period, we consume only best forms of protein, fats and carbohydrates according to our lifestyle and exercise habits. Naturally, as we fast for prolonged periods of time, we will not be inclined to binge eat when we are within the feeding period. Our bodies take in what they need, and utilise it accordingly.

I do hope this convinces you to pursue IF for longer, more vibrant health and longevity. I find that the constant challenge of exceeding my fasting times is very rewarding. Just think of all the wonderful benefits that are occurring, on a cellular level.

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