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Review: Eat, Fast and Live Longer with Dr. Michael Mosley

I finally got around to watching the movie that launched the 5:2 movement in the United Kingdom, "Eat, Fast, and Live Longer" featuring journalist Dr. Michael Mosley. It's a quick one hour-ish show reminiscent of the Morgan Spurlock documentaries without as much drama - Dr. Mosley is British after all - and instead of packing on weight Dr. Mosley is looking for ways to improve his body and health.

Themovie does a lot of profiles on various people's eating habits and lots of trips to unioversities and researchers. Here's a quick run down:

Fuaja: 101 marathon runner. Eats about half the calories an average adult normally consumes. Doesn't take any pills, does not have any age related health issues.

The Great Depression: During a period of low income, drought and general food scarcity life spans increased by 6 years.

Joe: long time calorie restricter (1900 calories per day). Much healthier than Dr. Mosley in all aspects: blood work, balance and reaction. These are the two tests that you can do at home:
  1. Balance Test: Stand on your weaker leg with your eyes shut - Dr. Mosley can only do this for a 6.59 seconds; Joe kicks butt and logs in 20 seconds with no problem. The average 50 year old should be able to do 8 seconds. Joe is in the 20 year old range.
  2. Reaction Test: With the help of a friend, drop a ruler between your open forefinger and thumb, and try to catch it before it hits the ground - Dr. Mosley catches it around 7 inches (he should be able to do this at 5 inches); Joe catches the ruler at the 4 inch mark.
Dr. Mosley admits that he cannot live on a daily calorie restricted diet (neither could I!) and embarks on alternative options that serve up the same results without the daily restrictions. So there are more interviews with researchers and doctors on various topics related to aging related dieseases.

IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor 1)

IGF-1 levels determine you level of risk for a lot of cancers and age related dieases. The higher it is the greater your risk. For example, the show looks at a village in Ecuador with people who have a genetic mutation that gives them very low levels of IGF-1 and they are basically immune to cancer and heart disease.

According to the movie, when IGF-1 levels are low your body goes into repair mode. And that's why the villagers are protected from age related diseases. And guess what also lowers your IGF-1 levels - fasting. Oh and guess what increases your IGF-1.. protein - lovely, tasty, juicy protein (so sad - what is a weight lifting girl to do?!).

Dr. Mosley embarks on a 4 day (actually 3 days and 4 nights) fast eating only 2 packages of miso soup (25 calories each). The first 2 days seemed really rough but by the third day, Dr. Mosely was perking up. After the fast Dr. Mosley gets some blood work done to show the decrease in his blood glucose and IGF 1 levels. All good news.

But a 4 day fast is really out of the question for most people and it does look painful

ADF (Alternate Day Fasting)

Note: this researcher is not an advocate of the 5:2 diet. Her research is focused on a consistent ADF not 5:2.

Next up is the ADF researcher who is lookign at fast and feed days. Her study recommends 400 - 500 calories for women and 500 - 600 calories (that's about 25% of their normal calorie intake) for men taken in one meal around lunch time one day and then whatever you want, no holds barred the next day. Rinse and repeat. For me the big take away, of this research is that instead of pigging out and having huge calorie intake on feed/ feast days people eat just a little bit more than they normally would (110%). Participants in ADF did loose moderate amounts of weight over 6 months. No discussion of IGF levels.

Dr. Mosley contacts yet another research who is doing an ADF like diet on mice to see how fast these mice will get Alzheimer's disease (apparently all of these mice are destined to get the condition). The mice that were on ADF remained healthy for longer than their piggy compatriots. Apparenlty, bouts of hunger spurred these mice's brains to create new neurons! Take away: ADF is good for your brain.


So finally, the 5:2 fasting pattern is introduced. Dr. Mosley is hoping this works as well as the fasting did on his IGF levels because they had rebounded back up after his 4 day fast in just a few weeks. There are a few ups and downs on the 5:2 regime but he makes it through 5 weeks and he does another panel of blood work. And guess what - 5:2 is just as effective as a straight 4 day fast.

He's lost weight, body fat, and IGF levels were down by half, blood glucose levels dropped to normal levels (90), and reduction in cholesterol.

So that's the movie that launched the 5:2 diet in the UK!


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