INTERMITTENT FASTING: It promotes the expression of good genes
Here, Salk scientists decipher in mice how time-restricted feeding influences gene expression in more than 22 regions of the body and brain. While gene expression is the process by which genes are activated and respond to their environment by creating proteins, this work helps explain the mostly beneficial effects of intermittent fasting. With possible implications for a wide range of health conditions where time-restricted eating can provide significant benefits, including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and cancer.
Intermittent fasting to fend off many chronic diseases
The study documents “the system-wide molecular impact of time-restricted feeding”. Conducted on mice, its results lead to a better understanding of the effects of such nutritional interventions on genes known to be involved in specific diseases, particularly cancer.
2 groups of mice received the same high-calorie diet. One group had free access to food. The other group’s food access was limited to a 9-hour feeding window per day. After 7 weeks, the analysis of tissue samples taken from 22 groups of organs (liver, stomach, lungs, heart, adrenal gland, kidney, intestine and from different areas of the brain), at different times of the day or the night made it possible to detect a certain number of genetic modifications. This analysis reveals that:
- 70% of mouse genes respond to time-restricted feeding;
- by modifying the range of food it is possible to modify the expression of genes not only in the intestine or the liver, but also in thousands of genes in the brain;
- thus, nearly 40% of the genes of the adrenal gland, the hypothalamus and the pancreas were affected by an intermittent fasting type diet; the authors note that these organs are particularly important for hormonal regulation. Hormones coordinate functions in different parts of the body and brain, and hormonal imbalance is implicated in many diseases, from diabetes to stress disorders;
- not all segments of the digestive tract appear affected in the same way. While the genes implicated in the two upper parts of the small intestine – the duodenum and the jejunum – were activated by time-restricted feeding, the ileum, at the lower end of the small intestine, was not. not. This discovery could open a new avenue of research on the effects of a shift in the biological clock on the risk of digestive diseases and cancers;
- finally, the time-limited diet realigns the circadian rhythms of several organs of the body: “Circadian rhythms are present in every cell. “We show that this type of diet synchronizes circadian rhythms and organizes them into 2 main waves: one during fasting and another just after eating. We think this allows the body to better coordinate different processes.”
These results, albeit preliminary, provide clues on how a restricted diet can help prevent diseases linked to a disruption of the clock, such as certain cancers.
The researchers also suspect a possible impact of this intermittent fasting on atherosclerosis, a precursor to heart disease and stroke, or on chronic kidney disease.
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