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Fasting Mimicking Diet: What is it and is it effective?

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Scientific research continues to point toward the benefits of fasting to lose weight and improve your health. Intermittent fasting has becoming increasingly popular and has been shown to induce weight loss, improve immune regulation and slow the aging process. (You can read more about my take on intermittent fasting here.) But for those who find it difficult to commit to a full-on fast, here’s something new to consider.

It’s called the Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD), created by Valter Longo, PhD, and it’s an alternative to fasting that allows you consume small amounts of food. Instead of abstaining from food altogether, as in a traditional fast, or even intermittent fasting, the FMD is low in calories (about 40 percent of normal intake), sugars and protein but high in unsaturated fats. A study of FMD found that subjects who consumed the FMD for five consecutive days per month for three months (compared to subjects who ate an unrestricted diet for three months) lost weight, had reduced trunk fat and total body fat, lowered blood pressure and decreased insulin-like growth factor with no adverse effects.

While intermittent fasting creates short shifts in hormonal activity in the cells, which enable weight loss and improved metabolic function, the FMD results in cellular changes that only occur if a fasting state is sustained longer than four days. At this point the cells, under stress from oxidation and caloric restrictions, shift cellular functions resulting in increases in stem cell activity, increased mitochondrial output and catabolism of damage cells, a process called apoptosis. Sustained fasting accelerates and deepens the process, along with increased production of human growth hormones. Only sustained fasting states create greater metabolic demands on repurposing intracellular waste materials, biosynthesis of scar tissue and damaged cells (i.e. amino and fatty acids) and anabolic muscle hypertrophy.

As with any diet, there are myths about FMD and other types of fasting: such as that fasting consumes healthy muscle tissue for energy. The truth is, the body only consumes healthy muscle tissue when it enters starvation mode. The body is always conserving healthy tissue and catabolizing damaged cells and waste products through biosynthesis. The reason many people experience muscle loss in lengthy fasts is not because the body needs the muscle for fuel, it is because most people that are prescribed and engage in lengthy fasts do so for therapeutic and curative reasons and completely rest and convalesce throughout the fast. It’s “use it or lose it” regarding muscle tissue, so if you are fasting and not exercising or using your muscles, you will lose muscle tissue — and you’ll lose the same amount of healthy muscle tissue as you would if you were inactive and not fasting.

Let’s breakdown the benefits of the Fasting Mimicking Diet:

1. Improve and rejuvenate the immune system.
2. Purge precancerous or cancerous cells from he body.
3. Activate autophagy — the body’s system for “cleaning house.”
4. Decrease fatty tissue through ketosis.
5. Reduce c-reactive protein and decrease oxidative stress.
6. Increase gene expression to promote longevity.
7. Increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which supports survival and growth of new brain neurons and improves cognitive performance.
8. Improve fasting glucose, regenerative markers and healthy stem cell levels.

To make it easy, Dr. Longo has developed the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet, a complete, five-day fasting system. The ProLon FMD is a natural, plant-based diet where users consume a proprietary blend of high quality foods and nutrients that allow the body to go into and get the benefits of fasting mode.

To learn more about the powerful effects of FMD and fasting, I recommend watching the documentary The Science of Fasting. To purchase a Prolon kit, just contact us at info@livingwelldallas.com.