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Can Eating Real Food Mimic the Benefits of Fasting?

Perhaps you have heard of the many benefits of doing different types of periodic fasting. Perhaps the easiest one with proven benefits is called Intermittent Fasting. With Intermittent Fasting, you simply limit the hours per day in which you eat, usually to a window of 12 hours or less. You can eat whatever you want, however by timing it to your natural circadian rhythms, for instance eat only between 7am and 7pm. This can markedly improve metabolism, improving blood pressure, blood glucose control, weight management, and even immunity.

Other, more strict forms of "fasting" can include juicing, or water-only fasting. These are usually more challenging for most people, and can even be dangerous for certain people, for instance those who are pregnant or have renal disorders. Now scientists have developed a way to get some of the benefits of fasting without having to limit yourself to just drinking water. It is called a Fasting-Mimicking Diet, or FMD.

Fasting-MImicking Diets (FMD) have been extensively researched in humans, perhaps most famously by Valter Longo, PhD. His book, the Longevity Diet describes the many health-promoting and anti-aging benefits of FMD. Previously proven in mice, now you too can lower your dangerous visceral fat, reduce cancer risks, rejuvenate your immune system, and slow down bone loss. FMD also improves cognitive performance, reduces risk factors for diabetes, and helps improve various autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

The Longevity Institute at University of Southern California develped a way to eat normal foods, like soup and olives and get the same benefits of fasting, hence the term "fasting-mimicking". Lest we get carried away thinking about eating hamburgers, I want to make it very clear that the FMD is still a very low calorie diet, about 500 calories per day. However, this is not just about calorie restriction. There are very specific foods, having a very specific macro- and micro-nutrient composition that have been shown to trigger the b