Side profile of a young man drinking water from a bottle

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Nah, we’re not talking about taking a “food break” because you overspent when you were kicking it over the weekend.

A new study led by scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that intestinal stem cells regenerated twice as fast as the normal rate after a 24 hour fast. Experts conclude that short fasts may help enhance the functioning of intestinal stem cells.

Why is this important? Scientists have long believed that low caloric diets are directly linked to the longevity in humans. For this study, scientists looked to see how this theory worked on a molecular level and chose intestinal stem cells, which are responsible for maintaining the lining of the intestine and key to repairing damage after injury or illness, as the focal point. Intestinal stem cells renew themselves every five days, but the timeframe for renewal slows down as humans age. The 24-hr fast triggered a switch from using carbohydrates to burning fat in cells, which significantly enhanced function and renewal. For scientists, unlocking the keys to accelerating intestinal stem cell renewal provides insight into treatment options for chronic diseases and illness in the intestines and other tissue.

The developments are good news and in accordance with prior studies that found that intermittent fasting has countless physical and mental health benefits. A 2014 study found that periodic fasting helps lower “bad” cholesterol levels and decreased sugar levels. Experts also contend that short fasts can help break poor food habits, comparing it to pressing the “reset button” on diet and exercise regimens.

Fasting is a game-changer, for your body and mind. Despite the general health benefits, it’s always best to consult your doctor and/or nutritionist for best practices before you begin one.