By Dr. Shawna Darou, ND
I am introducing a program called the “Fasting Mimicking Diet” with some patients, and wanted to explain more about how it works. This 5 day modified fast was developed by Dr. Valter Longo, an Italian researcher who was initially studying fasting an its influence on cancer and chemotherapy. The Fasting Mimicking Diet was created to be the safest low-calorie nutrition plan that would provide many of the same benefits as fasting.
I have written before about fasting, and how it can be detrimental to women’s hormones – whether it is days of water fasting, intermittent fasting or other forms of regular fasting programs. I am very cautious in recommending something that creates metabolic stress, because many of these practices can cause hormonal chaos.
This program however, which lasts for 5 days (repeated every 3-4 months if needed), does not appear to slow the metabolism down in a lasting way. Partly because it is only for 5 days, partly because you are eating something which keeps your metabolism moving, and partly because you return to eating normally after the 5 day program.
Benefits of the Fasting Mimicking Diet:
You can read more about benefits of this nutrition plan on various health issues here: https://valterlongo.com/, but my main focus right now for introducing this program is the impact on cardiovascular health and diabetes prevention.
- Reduced abdominal fat and circumference
- Major drop in the inflammatory risk factor, C-reactive protein
- Reduction in total and LDL cholesterol
- Lowering of triglycerides
- Reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure
- Reduction in fasting glucose
How it works:
The Fasting Mimicking Diet is a 5 day program with a very specifically prescribed balance of vegan foods, that maintain a low calorie intake during your modified fast. I recommend using a meal kit that contains everything you need for the program: soup packets, nut bars, olives, crackers and herbal teas. We will be stocking these regularly at the clinic from Prolon. You would need to slow down your schedule during this period of time to allow for more rest, and avoid exercising during this time. After the 5 days, you gently return to eating normally, keeping your food simple and easy to digest for the first 2 days, and then resuming your regular nutrition plan afterwards. The Fasting Mimicking Diet plan is typically repeated 3-4 times per year for best effects.
Although this program is quite safe to do, there are a few major cautions.
- Any current or past eating disorder
- You are currently underweight
- Low free T3 (thyroid hormone conversion)
- Hypothalamic amenorrhea (whether you’re under-weight or not)
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
- You are allergic to nuts, soy, oats, sesame, or celery/celeriac
- Fever, cough, diarrhea, or signs of an active infection
- Under 18 or over 70 years of age
- Diagnosed medical condition especially includes diabetes (types 1 or 2), cardiovascular disease, cancer, kidney disease, liver disease, or any history of fainting (syncope).
If you are interested in the Fasting Mimicking Diet and would like to learn more, please ask at your next appointment. We can determine if this is a helpful addition to your treatment plan for longevity, to reduce cardiovascular health, or to reverse early signs of blood sugar imbalance such as insulin resistance.
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