Fasting diets may impact health of future generations

14 May 2021 | News

Little is known about the long-term impact of these diets, particularly for future generations

Fasting diets could impact the health of future generations according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA), in England.

Fasting diets have risen in popularity in recent years, however little is known about the long-term impact of these diets, particularly for future generations.

New research, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, reveals that reduced food intake in roundworms (Caenorhabditis elegans) has a detrimental effect on three generations of offspring – particularly when those descendants have access to unlimited food.

Lead researcher Dr Edward Ivimey-Cook, from UEA’s School of Biological Sciences, said: “We know that reduced food intake increases the lifespan in many animals and can potentially improve health in humans. However, little is known about the long-term effects of reduced food intake, including time-limited fasting, on distant descendants.

“We wanted to find out more about the potential long-term impact of fasting diets.”

The researchers found that fasting did indeed increase the lifespan and it also improved offspring performance in terms of reproduction, when offspring themselves were fasting.

"However, we were surprised to find that fasting reduced offspring performance when the offspring had access to unlimited food. And this detrimental effect was evident in grand-offspring and great-grand-offspring. This shows that fasting can be costly for descendants and this effect may last for generations", said the research team.

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