Medical

Molecule produced during fasting has anti-aging effect on vascular system

Scientists have discovered how a molecule produced by the body during fasting puts the brakes on aging of vascular cells at just the right time
Scientists have discovered how a molecule produced by the body during fasting puts the brakes on aging of vascular cells at just the right time
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Scientists have discovered how a molecule produced by the body during fasting puts the brakes on aging of vascular cells at just the right time
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Scientists have discovered how a molecule produced by the body during fasting puts the brakes on aging of vascular cells at just the right time

Diet trends like intermittent fasting and ketogenesis are proving wildly popular for their rapid weight-loss effects, but scientists are also starting to uncover how they might benefit the body in other, longer term ways. Case in point: a molecule produced during fasting has now been found to apply the brakes to aging of the vascular system, a process closely tied to the aging of the human body as a whole.

When the body enters ketosis, a metabolic state induced by fasting and low-carb diets, it turns to the body's stored fats for energy, rather than glucose. One of these sources of energy, known collectively as ketones, is a molecule called β-Hydroxybutyrate.

"Previously, studies on ketone bodies focused on energy metabolism, but this study showed that there are other physiological effects which regulate cell cycle to retardate aging progression," study senior author Dr. Ming-Hui Zou tells New Atlas.

One such earlier study, at Harvard University last year, demonstrated how fasting can alter the activity of mitochondrial networks inside our cells, leading to increased lifespan, slower aging and improved health.

Zou and his team at Georgia State University set out to explore how heightened β-Hydroxybutyrate levels might have similar effects by interfering with what are known as senescent cells, which are cells that are no longer able to multiply and divide.

The scientists found that β-Hydroxybutyrate puts the brakes on senescent vascular cells at just the right time, actively promoting cell division and preventing them from growing old. When injected into mice, it was also found to promote stem cell factors that protect against DNA-related senescence to keep blood vessels young.

"We think this is a very important discovery, and we are working on finding a new chemical that can mimic the effect of this ketone body's function," says Zou. "We're trying to take the global approach to reducing cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease. It's difficult to convince people not to eat for the next 24 hours to increase the concentration of this compound, and not everybody can do that, but if we can find something that can mimic this effect and people can still eat, it would make life more enjoyable and help fight disease."

The research was published in the journal Molecular Cell.

Source: Georgia State University

5 comments
Don Duncan
What is "the global approach"? Not everyone can fast for 24 hours? I started fasting 55 years ago without even trying. Later, 45 years ago, I read a book on fasting and decided to do it for general health. The first time I water fasted for 3 days, then 7.5 days, then 2 weeks, twice. I used a health spa with colonics in the 70s. Since I have not water fasted but juice fasted instead. I don't recommend water fasting. It is too harsh. Juice is comparatively easy. If health and a longer life are a concern (goal?) how could anyone not have the willpower? Have people become so weak-willed or lazy?
Scottsdale Bob
I used intermittent fasting and ketogenesis to lose over 70 lbs in a year and I've never felt better. I heard the same argument that it's not easy to get people to give up sugar or carbs but it is easier to just give them a pill. Because Doctors have no faith in people will follow their good advice is why more people are not curing their Type II diabetes with nothing more than what they eat and don't eat. Taking pills is not always the answer to everything and more and more Doctors need to get better at saying that.
pmshah
What Don Duncan has stated is 100% true. We Jains are directed to behave and perform certain rituals on a regular basis. Fasting with/ without water is one of them. If one goes and deeply analyses them you would find these are ALL based 100% on science. Unfortunately the meaning behind these were lost and turned into religious dogmas. One should also lay their hands on BBC documentary "Feasting and Fasting". It literally is an eye opener.
alexD
This is just confirmation of the benefits of fasting discovered experimentally. Go watch "The Science of Fasting" - it can be found on amazon video or youtube. The real problem is not fasting: it is the boredom of not eating and the realization of "how much, food will get us entertained" :-) - so, a nice activity should be done while fasting.
EZ
I have tried fasting on 3 occasions. The 1st effort was for 24 hours, 2nd for 3 days and the 3rd for 7.5 days. The last time was about 6 mos. ago. I lost about 11 pounds in that week but stopped because I was getting too light headed and almost had a serious physical accident. That was the only negative effect. From then on, I do not get hungry. I have no desire to eat junk (processed) food, no cravings for anything. I now eat a snack mid-day and a light dinner in the evening. I hope to extend fast beyond a week in the future. I'm almost 70 years old and am almost down to the weight I was in college. Couldn't be more convinced of the benefits of fasting. I walk and do light weight workouts as well, but have always done some sort of exercise routine. I have also been taking Resveratrol for about 15 years, which may be why people are surprised when I tell them my age. I like experimenting with health issues.