Fasting is a key aspect of many religions and diets, yet the question of how healthy it is for one’s body remains a contested one. Intermittent fasting is a trendy new diet, and based on a new study from The University of Wisconsin-Madison, the trend has scientific validity unlike many other popular food trends in the last decade.

Scientists tested different diets on four different groups of mice. One ate a full amount but fasted, one ate as much as they wanted, and two others were underfed. The most healthy mice were the ones who fasted, as they got the right amount of calories, and saw benefits such as longer life, and better blood sugar control.

Why is this? One of the main reasons for this is autophagy, which is the process of moving cell waste. When one is fasting, there is more time in the body for cells to carry out the process. In this process, organelles which have been harmed are removed; they are often brought to the lysosomes. When there is more time to do this, the cell can focus on its normal function more efficiently, while still getting the appropriate calories for function.

The Process of Autophagy

Dudley Lamming, head researcher for this study, saw similar results for both male and female mice. He noted that medical research should look at how fasting can be imitated by drugs and treatment as a means of healing, due to its health benefits.

Personally, an aspect of this experiment that I do not love is the mistreatment of animals, being the rats in this case. While there are valid reasons for their use, such as biological similarities to humans, I dislike how some rats are underfed and are harmed. Nonetheless, this is a study that helps prove the benefits of fasting, which can lead to big medical findings in the future regarding human health.