Is fasting good for your health?

Article review by Erin Prendergast

Article summary

The article published on March 30, 2016, to CNN.com, Occasional fasting could help you live longer, by Meera Senthilingam, describes the research study by a team at the University of Southern California on the health benefits of fasting. As described by Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology at USC, fasting can “reprogram your body and put it on a path to live longer.” He arrived at this conclusion upon testing the impact of fasting for five consecutive day, stating that, “as cells are killed and the body goes into standby, your stem cells switch on.” Therefore, fasting leads to the generation of new cells that are more functional, thus potentially increasing your life expectancy. Participants of the study were on a plant based “human fasting mimicking diet,” which produced fasting-like effects while still delivering all of the necessary macronutrients. Longo describes that fasting lowers protein and certain amino acid levels, leading to greater regulation of biochemical pathways, such as the IGF pathway, which, when less active, “reduces risk factors liked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.” In conclusion, by reducing your food intake, your body focuses on crucial biochemical pathways rather than being interrupted to store excess calories.

Article critique

The author of this article, Meera Sentilingham, is currently a health producer for Vital Signs, a digital platform on the CNN International website. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology as well as masters’ degrees in science communication and the control of infectious disease. She was also a public health research consultant and has conducted her own studies; therefore, I believe she is qualified to accurately interpret and summarize the findings of a professionally conducted research study.

The source, Vital Signs on CNN.com, is a credible outlet for health related articles. The publications are edited by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the director of Vital Signs, before being evaluated according to CNN guidelines. Therefore, I believe it is a reliable source that presents accurate information.

The study discussed in the article is considered valid because it was conducted at a prestigious professional institution and followed a strictly designed scientific experiment. The report detailing the experimental methods and procedures of the study was referenced in the article, confirming its validity.

Although this article may seem like an exaggeration aimed at provoking readers’ interest by presenting the latest “breakthrough” discovery, it includes several quotes from doctors, both confirming the conclusions and addressing the safety of such a diet. Furthermore, I believe this is a credible article aimed at presenting new scientific discoveries as it warns readers that, “the results of the study are encouraging and warrant more research,” rather than implying that fasting will definitely improve one’s health.