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Muhammad correct on fasting, scientists find

By News | Last updated: May 16, 2003 - 11:55:00 AM

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( of the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad echoed in the news recently, as scientists delivered their findings from a recent study on fasting.

The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online Early Edition the week of April 28, suggest that fasting every other day prolongs life and prevents disease. The study, which used mice as the subject, also reveals there is a benefit to prolonging the time between meals even if one gorges during the time of the meal.

Mice that fasted every other day but were allowed to eat unlimited amounts on intervening days had lower blood glucose and insulin levels than either a control group that was allowed to feed freely, or a calorically restricted group that was fed 30 percent fewer calories daily than the control group, the study found.

"The implication of the new findings on the beneficial effects of regular fasting in laboratory animals is that their health may actually improve if the frequency of their meals is reduced," said Mark Mattson, Ph.D., chief of the National Institute of Aging’s (NIA) Laboratory of Neurosciences. "However, this finding, while intriguing, will need to be explored further. Clearly, more research is needed before we can determine the full impact that meal-skipping may have on health."

The mice that fasted also were found to be more resistant to diseases that strike at older ages.

Dr. Mattson also has found that meal-skipping diets can stimulate brain cells in mice to produce a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that promotes the survival and growth of nerve cells.

Dr. Carol Braunschweig of the University of Illinois at Chicago, who was not part of the study team, told the Associated Press that she was intrigued by the suggestion that a drastic change in eating patterns might have benefits.

"With the current epidemic of obesity and physical inactivity facing the U.S. today, identification of a beneficial eating pattern that could address some of the untoward effects of excess weight would be a very significant finding," she said.

In the 1930s, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad debunked the western notion that three meals a day produces good health when he introduced to his followers a diet based upon one meal a day and regular fasting. He published a comprehensive view of his dietary teaching in 1967 with the release of his groundbreaking book "How To Eat To Live—Book I." He published the follow-up, "How To Eat To Live—Book II" in 1972.

"Eat one meal a day or one meal every other day, and it will prolong your life. Do not think that you will starve. On the contrary, you will be treating yourself to life, and a life filled with sickless days," he writes in "How To Eat To Live—Book I."