Fasting Can Put the Brakes to Aging: Study

Intermittent fasting diet

Various types of fasting plans, including intermittent fasting, have been in the news recently, and advocates like to talk about the many probable health benefits. Among those benefits is the anti-aging angle, which was recently supported by a report in Molecular Cell.

More specifically, the authors of the study found that a molecule produced during fasting can slow the aging of the vascular system, which is closely associated with the aging of the entire human body. Here's how it seems to work:

Read about can intermittent fasting slow aging?

Previous research has shown us that fasting can change the activity of the organelles in the cells called mitochondria, which are intimately involved in energy production. The change in mitochondrial activity results in slower aging, improved health, and a longer lifespan.

Now the authors of a new study have looked at fasting in another way. When you fast for at least a few days, your body enters a state called ketosis and makes ketones, which are produced when the body burns fat rather than sugar (glucose; i.e., carbs) for energy. One of the ketones produced during fasting is called beta-hydroxybutyrate.

Beta-hydroxybutyrate caught the attention of senior author Dr. Ming-Hui Zou and his team at Georgia State University, where they found that elevated levels of this molecule may decrease the progression of aging by interfering with senescent cells. These cells are unable to divide and multiple.

Zou's team found that beta-hydroxybutyrate has an ability to inhibit senescent vascular cells from growing old. When the researchers injected beta-hydroxybutyrate into mice, the molecule promoted activity that helps keep blood vessels young.

Read about more health benefits of intermittent fasting

According to Zou, experts are trying to find a new chemical that can imitate the effect of beta-hydroxybutyrate on the body and the aging process. He pointed out that it's challenging to convince people to fast as a way to boost the concentration of the molecule. However, "if we can find something that can mimic this effect and people can still eat, it would make life more enjoyable and help fight disease."

We are looking forward to seeing what Dr. Zhou and his team will come up with in the very near future. If you want to stay updated on the latest information about beta-hydroxybutyrate, be sure to sign up to receive our newsletter.


Han Y et al. B-hydroxybutyrate prevents vascular senescence through hnRNP A1-mediated upregulation of Oct4. Molecular Cell 2018 Sep 20; 71(6): P1064-78.e5
Lavars N. Molecule produced during fasting has anti-aging effect on vascular system. New Atlas 2018 Sep 16
Weir HJ et al. Dietary restriction and AMPK increase lifespan via mitochondrial network and peroxisome remodeling. Molecular Cell 2017 Dec 5; 26(6): P884-96.e5
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Andrea Donsky, B. COMM is an international TV Health Expert, Best Selling Author, Nutritionist Podcast Host, and Founder of—a recipient of Healthline’s Best Healthy Living Blogs for 2019. As a pioneer and visionary in the health food industry, Andrea’s passion is to inspire people to make healthier choices. Andrea has combined her background and expertise as both a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and an entrepreneur ("She Boss!") to educate the public on living a healthy lifestyle through the creation of her businesses, books, articles, podcasts, videos, talks, and TV and radio media appearances. Andrea founded Naturally Savvy Media Inc. in 2007 in order to share her passion for healthy living, and love for natural products and companies. Among her numerous publications, Andrea co-authored Unjunk your Junk Food published by Simon and Schuster, a book that journalist, author and mother Maria Shriver endorsed: “Unjunk Your Junk Food has certainly made me more aware about the food that my children eat and the effects it has on our body and mind."</P. Andrea also co-authored two e-books entitled Label Lessons: Your Guide To A Healthy Shopping Cart, and Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s Lunch Box.