GROUP FASTING EXPERIENCE (June 2011)  Fasting Therapy  Clinical Trials  How to Fast  Scientific Research

Scientific Research

The scientific research results published in this article are based upon PUB MED, the worldwide medical database.

We have chosen some of the latest scientific studies, the majority of which has been carried out since 2000...

First of all, these studies have discredited the old commonplaces regarding fast, starting with the problem of proteins, but above all, they have highlighted that this therapy is able to exercise a positive effect on some cardiovascular and neurodegenerative pathologies.

This document only includes the abstracts of the above mentioned studies; whoever wants to learn more about them on PUB MED can click here.

1)      Starvation in man

Cahill GF Jr. Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1976 Jul; 5(2): 397-415

Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1976 Jul; 5(2): 397-415

Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1976 Jul; 5(2): 397-415

Fast implies a progressive selection of fats as corporal fuels; the use of amino acids deriving from muscular proteins (precursors of gluconeogenesis) ends quite rapidly and fatty acids from which ketone bodies or ketoacids derive are used alternatively.

After the first week, the amount of ketone bodies in the blood increases and the brain preferentially uses them as fuel, instead of glucose.

During the fast period, there is a negative balance of nitrogen which can be eliminated through amino acidic or proteinic supplementation.


2)      Metabolic adaptations to starvation, semistarvation and carbohydrate restriction.

Aoki TT.

Prog Clin Biol Res. 1981; 67:161-77

The metabolic adaptation to fasting, semifasting and carbohydrate restriction in man is a complicated mechanism which involves hormones, substrata and tissues.

In particular, however, the production of ketoacids, beta-hydroxy-butirric acid and acetoacetic acid, as substitutes for glucose to act as fuel for the brain of a fasting man represents the keystone of proteinic conservation.

In fact, ketogenesis implies the production of fuel which is equal to glucose, derives from fats and is independent from insulin for the cerebral metabolism.

This adaptation mechanism implies a small loss of ketoacids through urine (100-150 mM/day); ketonuria implies an increase in the renal use of the amino acid deriving from muscular glutamine.


3)      Ketone bodies, potential therapeutic uses

Veech RL, Chance B, Kashiwaya Y, Lardy HA, Cahill GF Jr. Unit on Metabolic Control, LMMB/NIAAA, Rockville, Maryland, USA IUBMB Life. 2001 Apr; 51(4): 241-7

Ketosis is characterized by an increase in the amount of D-beta-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate (ketones or ketone bodies) in the blood. It is the main mechanism which is involved in the survival of fasting men, since ketones are cerebral energy substrata which represent an alternative to glucose and protect muscles from the degradation needed for the synthesis of glucose.

Surprisingly, D-beta-hydroxybutyrate also represents a more effective energy resource for the brain, per oxygen unit; in addition, it has been proved that it is able to reduce the mortality rate of neurons in cultures of degenerating cells (biological models of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s diseases).

The above supports the thesis according to which there are neurological, genetic or acquired diseases which can benefit from ketosis.

Other beneficial effects of ketosis include a higher ability to hydrolyze ATP and this could be useful for epilepsy or for the ravages of ischemia.

The ability of D-beta-hydroxybutyrate to oxidize the Q coenzyme and to reduce the amount of NADP+ can also be useful in case of damages due to free radicals.


4)      Ketoacids? Good medicine?

Cahill GF Jr, Veech RL. Unit on Metabolic Control, LMMB/NIAAA, Rockville, Maryland, USA Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc. 2003; 114: 149-61

D-beta-hydroxybutyrate is the main ketone body produced by a fasting body and it is a substitute for glucose being the main fuel for the brain: it reduces the synthesis of glucose by the liver and the kidneys and allows to save precursors, that is to say, muscular amino acids.

In this way, a man who weighs 70 kilograms can fast for 2-3 months instead of some weeks, whilst an obese man could survive for many months.

If this metabolic mechanism for adaptation did not exist, Homo Sapiens would have never developed such an abundant cerebral mass.

Recent research has showed that D-beta-hydroxybutyrate is not a simple fuel, but a superfuel which produces more ATP than glucose and fatty acids.

In addition, research regarding cellular cultures has proved the ability of this ketone to protect cells from toxins associated with the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as the Parkinson’s or the Alzheimer’s disease.

Click here if you want to see this scientific research on PubMed.

5)      D-beta-hydroxybutyrate rescues mitochondrial respiration and mitigates features of Parkinson disease.

Tieu K, Perier C, Caspersen C, Teismann P, Wu DC, Yan SD, Naini A, Vila M, Jackson-Lewis V, Ramasamy R, Przedborski S.

Department of Neurology, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA..

J Clin Invest. 2003 Sep; 112(6): 892-901.

The Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the loss of dopaminergic nigrostriatal neurons.

MPTP is a neurotoxin which causes damages which are similar to the ones brought by the disease.

This research has highlighted that the introduction of beta-hydroxybutyrate in mice partially protects from the dopaminergic damage produced by the toxin.

This ketone body which is also used for the treatment of epilepsy and which is able to cross the hematoencephalic barrier could represent a new neuroprotective therapy against the Parkinson’s disease.


6)      Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults.

Reger MA, Henderson ST, Hale C, Cholerton B, Baker LD, Watson GS, Hyde K, Chapman D, Craft S.

Neurobiol Aging. 2004 Mar; 25(3): 311-4

Glucose is the principal cerebral energy substratum; in the Alzheimer’s disease, there is a minor ability to use this metabolite in energetic processes.

Neurobiological records suggest that ketone bodies might represent an alternative energy substratum to glucose.

It seems that the increase in circulating ketoacids (fasting or increase in the consumption of fats) improves cognition in memory-impaired adults.


7)      AdnKronos: Fasting once a month provides a “shield” for the heart

Fasting one a month like Mormons do could protect the heart reducing the risk of coronary problems by 45%.

A recent US research which was presented in Orlando during the 2007 meeting of the American Heart Association has rehabilitated periodical fasting as a “shield” for arteries.

The team of Benjamin D. Horne of the Intermountain Medical Centre and of the University of  Utah of Salt Lake City carried out a research aimed at analysing the cardiovascular conditions of the followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) who are known for having the most “invulnerable” heart in the USA since the Seventies.

One of the reasons lays in the fact that their religion prohibits smoking, but scientists decided to understand whether there was something more.

Horne and his colleagues started analysing the data collected by the Intermountain Heart Collaborative Study regarding 4,629 men and women the mean age of whom was 64 years who had undergone coronary angiography between 1994 and 2002.

As it was expected, the impact of the coronary disease on Mormons was lower (61% against 66%) and the difference was noticed even after a comparison focusing only on non-Mormons who were non-smokers.

During the second part of the research, scientists have surveyed the habits of 515 patients, mean age 64 years, who had undergone coronary angiography between 2004 and 2006.

In particular, they asked them if they made sacrifices like the ones made by Mormons: for instance, fasting or banning tobacco, alcoholics, tea and coffee.

The risk of coronary disease in people who fasted was equal to 59% whilst it was equal to 67% in other people.

According to Horne “fasting is the major indicator of reduced cardiac risk in the analysed group even in that 8% that renounced to food every now and then without being Mormon”.

The abstract of the research states: “In conclusion, banning tobacco together with short periodical fasts are associated to a minor risk of suffering from coronary arteries diseases”.


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Director: doctor Salvatore Simeone,
born in Pignataro Maggiore (CE), 8th February 1957,
High Graduated in Medicine and Surgery at La Sapienza, University of Rome, in 05th April 1986.

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