Think Twice Before Fasting, New Research Says It Could Harm Future Generations


Fasting was first seen as a fad, but over the years it’s definitely proved its staying power. While we’ve covered the benefits of intermittent fasting — cell regeneration, insulin sensitivity, disease resistance, and gut health — most people turn to fasting for weight-loss reasons, even though professionals say that it’s not the “main driver of health benefits” in terms of studies.

There are also negative side effects to consider, which many gloss over when considering fasting. According to POPSUGAR, these can include bad breath, hunger, headaches and digestive issues, amongst other concerns.

According to featured research from the National Institute of Aging, which was published last year, “more research is needed to determine whether intermittent fasting…is even feasible for humans when practiced over the long term, such as for years.”

Now, new research has come out saying that fasting diets could harm future generations. Published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, and conducted by the University of East Anglia, the research looked at reduced food intake in roundworms, to see the impact this could have.

If you’re wondering what roundworms and humans have in common, it’s more than you’d think, actually. Lead researcher Dr Edward Ivimey-Cook explained that roundworms are “a classic model organism for studying the ageing process in biology because they do share many genes and molecular pathways that control development with humans.”

If a study like this was to be conducted on humans, it “could take a century or more!” said Dr Ivimey-Cook. But, considering roundworms only have a short life cycle of only two weeks, “we can study their development and that of generations of their offspring in a short amount of time”.

Although fasting saw an increased lifespan in these roundworms, and improved offspring performance in terms of reproduction — when offspring themselves were also fasting — when future generations had access to unlimited food, performance was reduced. To add to this, they also found this detrimental effect was evident in grand-offspring and great-grand-offspring.

Translation? As Dr Ivimey-Cook said “Fasting can be costly for descendants and this effect may last for generations.

“This is really important because it means we need to carefully consider the long-term effects of fasting when trying to pursue healthy lifestyles — because the detrimental impact may only manifest itself in distant generations.”

So if you’re thinking of fasting? Think of your grandchildren, and your great-grandchildren — it could end up affecting them.

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