A new study finds that providing the body with a temporary, specifically formulated fasting mimicking diet (FMD) called ProLon causes cellular changes normally generated by several days of consecutive water-only fasting and may increase health and lifespan by partially turning back the aging clock. After animal results showing that this FMD reduces incidence of cancer and inflammatory diseases and extends lifespan, researchers have now published the results of a 100-participant randomized Phase II clinical trial demonstrating that ProLon targets the aging process and reduces risk factors for age related diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease in humans. These effects are believed to be caused by an increase in stem cell number and regeneration.
Pre-clinical studies demonstrated that ProLon provides the body with the necessary macro and micronutrients while keeping it in a fasting mode and activates stem cell-based regeneration in multiple organs and systems. ProLon is perhaps the first success story in a new but rapidly developing nutri-technology field. The understanding of the molecular connections between specific food components and genes that regulate aging and regeneration allows food to be used to promote cellular changes that are safe but more coordinated than those caused by drugs.
Researchers tested the effects of three monthly ProLon cycles on metabolic markers and risk factors associated with aging and age-related diseases. Each ProLon cycle lasts five consecutive days and does not require alteration to lifestyle during the remaining days of the month. Findings in humans were consistent with mouse studies showing a spike in circulating stem cells and delay in biological aging by promoting regeneration in multiple systems. Body weight, BMI, total body fat, trunk fat, waist circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), and C-Reactive Protein (a marker of inflammation) were significantly reduced, particularly in participants at risk for diseases, while relative lean body mass (muscle and bone mass) was increased. Low levels of IGF-1 are associated with a lower risk of cancer and diabetes. No serious adverse effects were reported
Recent research offers one glimpse into how cutting calories impacts aging inside a cell. The researchers found that when ribosomes - the cell's protein makers - slow down, the aging process slows too. The decreased speed lowers production but gives ribosomes extra time to repair themselves. "The ribosome is a very complex machine, sort of like your car, and it periodically needs maintenance to replace the parts that wear out the fastest. When tires wear out, you don't throw the whole car away and buy new ones. It's cheaper to replace the tires." So what causes ribosome production to slow down in the first place? At least for mice: reduced calorie consumption.
Researchers observed two groups of mice. One group had unlimited access to food while the other was restricted to consume 35 percent fewer calories, though still receiving all the necessary nutrients for survival. "When you restrict calorie consumption, there's almost a linear increase in lifespan. We inferred that the restriction caused real biochemical changes that slowed down the rate of aging." The team isn't the first to make the connection between cut calories and lifespan, but they were the first to show that general protein synthesis slows down and to recognize the ribosome's role in facilitating those youth-extending biochemical changes. "The calorie-restricted mice are more energetic and suffered fewer diseases. And it's not just that they're living longer, but because they're better at maintaining their bodies, they're younger for longer as well."
Ribosomes, like cars, are expensive and important - they use 10-20 percent of the cell's total energy to build all the proteins necessary for the cell to operate. Because of this, it's impractical to destroy an entire ribosome when it starts to malfunction. But repairing individual parts of the ribosome on a regular basis enables ribosomes to continue producing high-quality proteins for longer than they would otherwise. This top-quality production in turn keeps cells and the entire body functioning well.