I'VE long thought the human body was not meant to run on empty, that fasting was done mainly for religious reasons or political protest. Otherwise we needed a reliably renewed source of fuel to function optimally, mentally, emotional and physically.

Personal experience reinforced that concept; I am not pleasant to be around when I'm hungry. There's even an official name for that state of mind: hungry.

But prompted by recent enthusiasm for fasting among people concerned about their health, weight or longevity, I looked into the evidence for possible benefits - and risks - of what researchers call intermittent fasting.

Popular regimens range from ingesting few if any calories all day every other day or several times a week to fasting for 16 hours or more every day.

HUMAN studies of fasting, even intermittent fasting found that fasting improved such disease indicators as insulin resistance, blood fat abnormalities, high blood pressure and inflammation, even independently of weight loss.

In patients multiple sclerosis, intermittent fasting reduced symptoms in just two months, a research team in Baltimore reported in 2018.

IF you think evolutionary, Dr. Mattson said, predators in the wild fight for prey in the fasting state and are better at recovering from injuries. The human counterpart - people who evolved in feast-or-famine environments - would not have survived unless somehow protected by fasting.

''Our human ancestors did not consume three regularly spaced large meals, plus snacks, every day, nor did they have sedentary life,'' the researchers wrote.

The studies they analyzed showed that ''most if not all organ systems respond to intermittent fasting in ways that enable the organism to tolerate or overcome the challenge'' and then return to normal.

Dr. Mattson explained that during a fast, the body produces few new proteins, prompting cells to take protein from nonesstential sources, break them down and use the amino acids to make new proteins that are essential for survival.

Then, after eating, a lot of new proteins are produced in the brain and elsewhere.

The honor and regular serving of the latest operational research on Fasting, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Jane E. .Brody.


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