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Will today’s intermittent fasting harm the health of tomorrow’s generations?

05/16/2021 at 08:00 CEST

It is about spending long periods of time without eating any food. If anything, some infusion or some water, but nothing more than that. That’s the intermittent fasting.

An “eating pattern” that has gained a lot of weight in recent months to tone, cleanse and improve the performance of the body.

Always professionally controlled and never solely geared towards weight loss.

A theory that seems to have multiple benefits according to experts: “It is the right weapon in the right hands. A good way to help our body eliminate accumulated waste. Control and follow-up are essential ”, says Daniel Pérez, dietitian-nutritionist and co-founder of the Wabi Sabi school of healthy eating.

Despite all this, the same experts acknowledge the lack of development of scientific studies that tell us about the long-term benefits or contraindications of intermittent fasting.

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What is beginning to be studied is how it will affect future generations, and according to science, the conclusions are not positive.

This is what the study carried out by a scientific team from the University of East Anglia (UEA), in Norwich, UK points out: “intermittent fasting will have detrimental effects on the body of descendants within three generations.”

The research, which has been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, has based its study on the behavior of worms of the Caenorhabditis elegans type, and on the effects that fasting for a limited time had on their lifespan and reproductive and in the evolution of the next three generations.

‘We know that reduced food intake increases life expectancy in many animals and can potentially improve health in humans. However, little is known about the long-term effects of reducing food intake, including fasting for a limited time, in distant descendants, “says the doctor. Edward Ivimey-Cook, principal investigator and member of the UEA Faculty of Biological Sciences.

The future effects of intermittent fasting on future generations

The analysis was done on a group of more than 2,500 worms that were divided into four generations.

Worms, specifically, of the type Caenorhabditis elegans.

It might seem strange to study the effects of any variable, fasting in this case, on worms to compare it with humans, but «they are an organism with a classical model to study the aging process in biology because they share many genes and molecular pathways that control development with humans ”, points out Dr. Ivimey-Cook.

The first generation was framed on a diet of eating everything they wanted, coupled with a period of fasting; while the rest of the generations were subjected to diets of complete nutrition, some, and fasting, others.

The intention was to discover what happened when intermittent fasting was maintained in a sustained way over time for several generations.

They were made, to verify it, analysis on reproduction and longevity.

Despite the fact that in some cases the reproductive performance of part of the offspring increased, in general terms, and when the following generations had unlimited access to food on demand, fasting was confirmed to significantly reduce performance.

Although used to promote healthy aging, the long-term effects of intermittent fasting, as demonstrated by research from the University of East Anglia, are felt in multiple molecular pathways that are evolutionarily conserved.

They are seeing their performance diminish with the passage of time and as inherited from generation to generation.

According to the research team and in light of the results, “we must carefully consider the long-term effects of fasting when trying to follow healthy lifestyles because the detrimental impact can only manifest itself in distant generations.”

We will not be the ones who check its effects but it could be our grandchildren or our great-grandchildren.

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What is intermittent fasting?

Until science confirms its negative effects on our descendants, and if you are thinking of starting intermittent fasting, it is important to make it clear that it is not a weight loss method but rather an “eating pattern consisting of in a period of ingestion and another of fasting, ”says Daniel Pérez.

There are different types, depending on how long you fast, but the most common is known as 16-8, which differentiates between 16 hours of fasting and an eight-hour window for food intake.

The dietitian-nutritionist Daniel Pérez insists that “with good planning it can help us improve our body, but it is essential to base it on a correct diet: proteins, quality carbohydrates, vegetables and fiber. If it is poorly planned, it will end up causing the opposite effect, generating anxiety and causing us to eat satisfying foods, but without nutritional benefit ».

Carrying it out continuously is the best way to notice its benefits: «It improves your results when the fasting-ingestion periods are exceeded 72 hours since what is known as autophagy takes place, a process by which the cells they begin to make waste disappear from our body, ”says Daniel Pérez.

A trend that is increasingly fashionable, which must be monitored and planned by experts in the field on which results are beginning to be shown on how it may affect future generations.

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