Eat less, live longer? 禁食或斋戒健康吗?

Vocabulary: Eating and dieting 饮食和减肥

A girl looks at food

Can you resist the temptation of food?

If you love eating and have a gargantuan appetite, the idea of going on a diet might be hard to swallow.

Yet evidence suggests that short periods of fasting could help people lose weight and lead to better health. A lower calorie intake increases the life expectancy of mice, so could the same be true for humans?

Studies show that high levels of a growth hormone called IGF-1 can lead to accelerated ageing, whilst a low level can help prevent age-related diseases. Now evidence suggests the level of IGF-1 in our bodies can be lowered by what we eat.

It’s not only about eating less, but also about limiting the amount of protein we ingest. Research by Professor Valter Longo of the University of Southern California suggests that when the level of IGF-1 drops, our bodies switch from "growth mode" to "repair mode".

BBC journalist Michael Mosley went on the 5:2 diet, which involves eating normally for five days a week, then only consuming 600 calories for two days. Despite this reduced calorie intake two days a week, he didn’t crave more food on other days: "On my feed days I ate what I normally do and felt no need to gorge." However, he adds that "Current medical opinion is that the benefits of fasting are unproven and until there are more human studies it's better to eat at least 2000 calories a day. Fasting, like eating, is best done in moderation."

For those who want to reduce their weight whilst maintaining a varied diet, fasting for short periods of time might be healthier than crash diets or yo-yo dieting. However, others might decide they have enough on their plate without having to think constantly about what they eat. Either way, information about fasting provides food for thought.

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