Let’s face it: the gut health world is kind of confusing. What should we be eating? What probiotic is best? How often should we drink kombucha? The list of dos and don’ts goes on and on (and on and on.)
But there’s one piece of advice that experts agree on: the timing our of meals is just as important as the meals themselves.
Researchers out of the University of Southern California have established the role of fasting in healing and managing chronic digestive diseases. They suggest that something called the fasting-mimicking diet - a program developed by Dr Valter Longo, the author of The Longevity Diet - could be the key to reducing inflammation and reversing symptoms of IBS, Chrons and colitis.
So, what is FMD, exactly?
Well, unlike other restrictive eating plans (such as 16:8), FMD doesn’t require you to go for long periods without food. Instead, researchers had mice reduce their caloric intake by half for a day, then cut this down further to 10 per cent of what they’d normally consume for three days thereafter. This stretch of time was considered the “fasting” period, and, when repeated regularly, the mice reaped the digestive benefits.
A comparison group of mice were fed a water-only diet for 48 hours, however, at the end of the experiment, the researchers noted no change to their gut health. The point? Even in small doses, nutrients go a long way.
“It is really remarkable, that in the past 100 years of research into calorie restriction, no one recognised the importance of re-feeding,” Longo said of the findings. “Restriction is like a demolition where you take the building down. But you have to rebuild it. If you don’t do that, there’s no benefit. You are left with an empty lot, and what have you achieved?”
In short: if you’re struggling with a chronic condition it might be worth reassessing the food in your diet, but also the timing of it too.