Martin Wegman, an ICHP fellow and M.D.-Ph.D. student in the College of Medicine and the College of Public Health and Health Professions, co-authored an article on the benefits of intermittent fasting that was featured in the journal Rejuvenation Research and picked up by a number of online outlets, including the Huffington Post, Science Daily and The Conversation, where the article was one of the site’s top 10 performers. The article explores the practicality of ocassional fasting and its effects on the body’s genes and metabolism, as studied in the team’s clinical trial.
The research team measured and analyzed weight changes, heart rates, glucose levels, blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammatory markers and genes involved in cell responses and, among fasting participants, found an increase in the SIRT3 gene, which promotes the production of protective proteins called sirtuins that are associated with longevity.
While fasting, the body switches its metabolism in a way that may cause a spike in free radical production. Though free radicals are molecules most commonly associated with aging and disease, researchers believe that a temporary rise in these molecules can promote the development of protective pathways.
“The hypothesis is that if the body is intermittently exposed to low levels of oxidative stress, it can build a better response to it,” said Wegman in the Huffington Post article.
The study was developed as part of a class in the UF M.D.-Ph.D. program that teaches students to bridge the gap between clinical research and bedside medicine, during which students design a clinical trial through the UF Clinical Research Center.