Nausea can help people lose weight, but new research shows that food without food can also promote human metabolism, create antioxidants, and help prevent some of the effects of aging. Scientists at the Okinawa School of Science and Technology (OIST) and the Kyoto University Institute identified 30 unannounced substances that increase in fasting and indicate a variety of health benefits.
"We have been studying aging and metabolism for many years and have decided to look for unknown health effects on an empty stomach," said Dr. Yanagida. "Contrary to initial hope, accelerated metabolic activation turned out to be quite active."
Study, published January 29, 2019 Scientific reports, analysis of whole human blood, plasma and red blood cells from four empty people. Researchers observed levels of variable metabolites – substances that are formed during chemical processes that give the organisms energy and allow them to grow. Results revealed 44 metabolites, incl. 30, previously unrecognized, generally increased between 1.5 and 60 times in patients within 58 hours of fasting.
In previous studies, the G0 cell unit identified a variety of metabolites that decreased with age, including three known as leucine, isoleucine, and ophthalmic acid. In fasting individuals, these metabolites are increasing, suggesting a mechanism by which fasting can help increase longevity.
"These are very important metabolites for muscle and antioxidant maintenance," said Teruya. "This result suggests the possibility of a rejuvenating effect due to starvation that was not known so far."
Metabolites give an indication of mechanism and health effects
The human body tends to use carbohydrates for fast energy – when they are available. When hunger for carbs, the body begins to plunder its alternative energy stores. The "energy substitution" act leaves evidence, namely metabolites known as butyrates, carnitines and branched chain amino acids. It has been shown that these well-known energy replacement markers accumulate on an empty stomach.
But on an empty stomach, there seems to be an effect that is much wider than energy substitution. In a comprehensive human blood test, researchers noted that both fasting markers and others have been identified. For example, they found a global increase in substances produced by the citric acid cycle – a process by which organisms release energy stored in chemical bonds of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. Significant growth suggests that during fasting, small power plants with each cell are thrown overdrive.
It has been shown that fasting promotes purine and pyrimidine metabolism, chemicals that play an important role in gene expression and protein synthesis. It has been found that fasting can reschedule which protein cells are made after some time, thus changing their function. Changes can promote homeostasis in cells or serve to edit gene expression in response to environmental effects.
Purifying purine and pyrimidine by metabolism also increases the body's antioxidant formation. Several antioxidants, such as ergotionine and carnosine, significantly increased during the 58-hour study. Antioxidants help protect cells from free radicals produced during metabolism. The metabolic pathway products called the "pentose phosphate pathway" also remain due to oxidative exposure and similarly increased in fasting but only in plasma.
Newborn Health Benefits?
The authors point out that these antioxidant effects can be the body's main response to starvation because famine can contribute to a dangerously oxidizing internal environment. Their research provides the first evidence of antioxidants as a starvation marker. In addition, the study introduces a new belief that fasting could increase the production of several age-related metabolites rich in young people, but it is outdated.
"Recent aging studies have shown that calorie restriction and fasting have a long-lasting effect on life expectancy in model animals … but the detailed mechanism has remained a mystery," said Teruya. "It might be possible to test the anti-aging effect from different perspectives by developing exercise programs or drugs that can trigger a metabolic response similar to those on an empty stomach."
Open discoveries expand the ideas of what fasting can do for human health. The next step would be to repeat these results in a broader study or to explore how other means could trigger a change in metabolism.
"People are interested in whether people can enjoy the effects of metabolic disease prevention and prolong life expectancy with fasting or caloric restrictions, like animals," said Teruya. "Understanding the metabolic changes caused by starvation is expected to give us wisdom to maintain health."