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A 24-hour fast boosts regeneration of intestinal stem cells in young and old mice, according to a new study
from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. The findings could have implications for human health.
As you get older, stem cells in the intestines are worse at recovering from infections and injury caused by things like food poisoning and E. coli, says study author Omer Yilmaz, MD, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biology at MIT.
Fasting might improve function because it makes the stem cells use fat for energy instead of sugar, he explains. This switch doubles the cells’ ability to replace injured tissue with new tissue, though it’s unclear why.
THE BOTTOM LINE
In adults, fasting for up to 24 hours can slow down aging in the intestines and help you recover from infection and illness, Yilmaz says. The ideal regimen varies from person to person, but once a week is a safe place to start. (Skip your workout on days you’re not eating. For more tips on how to do a 24-hour fast right, see what Precision Nutrition experts have to say