“Mr. W” completed three consecutive rounds of the Longevity Fasting Diet between September and November 2019, each round consisting of 5 days of fasting mimicking, as per the published LFD protocol. We recorded his blood work to compare his before and after results.
To give you some background on Mr W, he is a vegetarian who was dealing with insulin resistance, fatty liver disease, obesity, depression and high liver enzymes. Carbohydrates (including alcohol) made up a large proportion of his diet over the past few years and this high consumption of carbohydrates put him at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and a host of other chronic health problems.⠀
Diagnostic blood markers before and after the LFD
As you can see from Mr W’s blood test results above, there were dramatic changes to a lot of the markers we were testing for. But what do these markers mean, how do they effect our overall health and how are these markers effected by fasting mimicking diets like the LFD?
Mr. W had a high fasting insulin level of 15.9, making it extremely difficult for him to lose weight. ⠀
Glucose, also known as blood sugar, is a source of fuel we use for energy. We get glucose from the breakdown of carbohydrates such as grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, alcohol and fruit/fizzy drinks in the body. High glucose levels from our diet can stimulate the release of insulin.
Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that keeps blood sugar levels balanced. It allows cells in the muscles, liver and body fat to absorb glucose and use it as a source of energy. Excess glucose not used by the cells for energy is converted and stored as fat.
Research from as far back as 1966 shows that excess carbohydrate intake is the key driving force for insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when the cells don't use insulin effectively and glucose begins to build in the blood. The more carbohydrates you eat, the more insulin your body produces to try and keep up. Over time, the beta cells in the pancreas which produce insulin get worn out and can no longer keep up with the demand. Blood sugar levels rise along with the risk of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes and possibly eventually type 1 diabetes. You are also at risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which boosts the risk for liver damage and heart disease.
→ Keep insulin low by limiting processed carbohydrates, and yes, this includes alcohol!
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), is another problem associated with insulin resistance, elevating the risk of liver damage. To test for liver damage we measure GGT & ALT. In Mr. W’s case, GGT was 78 (ref range <60) & his ALT was 75 (ref range <45), showing that his insulin resistance is now affecting his liver.⠀
Triglycerides are fats in the blood that are used for energy by the body. You need some triglycerides for good health, however, high triglyceride levels increase the risk of heart disease. The more insulin resistant you are, the higher the concentration of triglycerides. During fasting, triglycerides are broken down and used as fuel for the body which is why Mr W’s levels reduced. ⠀
Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Interestingly, Mr W’s LDL cholesterol levels increased after fasting. Publications to date show that in some individuals, periodic fasting (such as the LFD) initially increases LDL cholesterol, which then drops below the original starting point after a few weeks. This is why we now recommend waiting 3-4 weeks to have your blood retested after completing 3 rounds of the LFD.
There are a variety of tests that we recommend getting if you’re looking to track biomarker changes. A good old “warrant of fitness” general check up and blood testing from your doctor is a great place to start and should be done at least once a year. That way you are able to compare past results and ensure that things are ticking along nicely.⠀
In New Zealand we have some funded tests and a few tests that are no longer funded but for the general population, these tests are usually free:⠀
- Total blood count ⠀
- Lipids (which tests cholesterols including LDL and HDL as well as triglyceride levels) ⠀
- HbA1c which is a marker for diabetes⠀
- Fasting blood glucose ⠀
- Liver and kidney function ⠀
- PSA (prostate-specific antigen)- for men⠀
Tests you will have to pay for as they are not funded: ⠀
- Fasting insulin ⠀⠀
It is important to get your fasting insulin tested as well as HbA1c as it has been shown to be a very important metabolic marker for optimal health. Mr W had been tested for diabetes using the HbA1c test, which came back within the normal range (35 for Mr W and it should be <41). However, since we tested his fasting insulin, which came back at an incredibly high 15.9, we were able to determine why he had high liver enzymes, and the reason for his fatty liver, which we would have missed if we only went off the HbA1c test.⠀
If you’re interested in getting these tests done before your LFD, you can see your GP or other practitioner and ask to get them tested, or you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Mr W’s case highlights the many health benefits on offer from the LFD. After 3 consecutive rounds of LFD, he saw significant changes in his blood work, notably:
Insulin - Prior to the LFD, his high fasting insulin level had made it extremely difficult for him to lose weight. Fasting resolved his insulin resistance and he was able to lose 14kg.
Triglycerides - Previously extremely high, reduced to within normal range.
Liver function - GGT and ALT (diagnostic markers for liver disease) were elevated before LFD and both also dropped to normal range.
HDL cholesterol - Known as “good” cholesterol, and higher levels are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Mr W’s HDL cholesterol levels increased.
Completing the LFD gave Mr W the opportunity to improve his mental and physical health, lose weight and reduce his markers for chronic conditions.
J Nutr. Fasting increases serum total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B in healthy, nonobese humans. 1999 Nov;129(11):2005-8. Sävendahl L1, Underwood LE.
Isr Med Assoc J . Effect of prolonged fasting on plasma lipids, lipoproteins and apolipoprotein B in 12 physicians participating in a hunger strike: an observational study. 2000 Mar;2(3):215-9. Fainaru M1, Schafer Z.
Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 3, Issue Supplement_1, June 2019, https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzz035.P12-057-19
Weight Loss and Transient LDL Increase (P12-057-19) Vijaya Surampudi, Katherine Biggs, Zhaoping Li
Circulation. Fasting Triglycerides, High-Density Lipoprotein, and Risk of Myocardial Infarction. J Gaziano et al. 1997; 96(8):2520–25. https://cholesterolcode.com/category/cholesterol-science-show/ + https://www.dietdoctor.com/fasting-and-cholesterol
American Journal of Managed Care. Targeting Insulin Resistance: The Ongoing Paradigm Shift in Diabetes Prevention. April 11, 2013. http://www.ajmc.com/journals/evidence-based-diabetes-management/2013/2013-1-vol19-sp2/targeting-insulin-resistance-the-ongoing -paradigm-shift-in-diabetes-prevention