Many studies have already shown that fasting, when it does not lead to malnutrition, increases lifespan and improves health in humans. Another advantage of fasting is weight loss.
Are there only benefits though? Not so fast says a British study which just showed how this diet will have detrimental long-term transgenerational consequences. Dietary restrictions could affect the fertility and longevity of future generations if those offspring enjoy good food and pleasure instead.
Will prolonged fasting affect our descendants?
Fasting is said to have many benefits on health, including weight loss and life expectancy extension. However, according to the British study mentioned above, fasting could have an impact on the reproduction of our offspring, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia.
“We know that eating less food increases the lifespan of many animals and can also improve human health,” Dr. Edward Ivimey-Cook, from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences, said in a statement. However, little is known about the long-term effects of reduced food intake, including intermittent fasting, in the future generations. We wanted to know more about the possible long-term effects of fasting diets.”
We wanted to know more about the possible long-term effects of fasting
To measure the effects of fasting, the researchers looked at four generations of Caenorhabditis elegans. These are roundworms with a life expectancy of two weeks that share with humans many of the genes and molecular pathways that control development.
Effects were seen after only four generations
After allowing the first generation to eat as much as they wanted, the researchers put the worms on a caloric restricted diet. They then divided their offspring into two groups, one on a fasting diet and one on a full diet.
The lifespan of the first generation was prolonged, while reproductive performance increased in the offspring that received the same diet as their parents. The group of worms that had access to a limited diet had lower reproductive performance. This effect was also observed in the 4th generation
This study provides a strong incentive to consider the effects of fasting in both animals and humans in future generations. “It is really important because it means that we have to look carefully at the long-term effects of fasting when we try to follow a healthy lifestyle, because the harmful effects may not appear until later generations,” the researcher concluded.