Washington – A new study by Salk scientists showed that Time-Restricted Eating (TRE), a meal plan that restricts eating to specific hours, has several health benefits in addition to weight loss. The study also shows that these benefits can vary based on gender and age.
The results of the study were published in the journal “Cell Reports”.
Most of the TRE studies have focused on weight loss in young male mice, but Salk’s scientists wanted to see if TRE provided additional benefits to other populations.
Their results showed that while age and gender influence the results of TRE, the nutritional strategy offers several health benefits for young and old of both sexes, and showed that TRE can be a valuable intervention in type 2 diabetes, fatty liver and liver cancer. and even infectious diseases like Covid-19 in humans.
“In many clinical interventions with TRE, the primary outcome is weight loss, but we have found that TRE is good not only for metabolic diseases, but also for increasing infectious disease resistance and insulin resistance,” said Satchidananda Panda, professor at Salk’s Regulatory Biology Laboratory and Holds the Rita and Richard Atkinson chairs.
Glucose intolerance is the first step on the slippery road to non-alcoholic fatty liver and liver cancer – one of the few cancers whose incidence and death rate have increased rather than decreased over the past 25 to 30 years.
Additionally, over 40 percent of Americans are already diabetic or prediabetic, with the American Diabetes Association predicting 1.5 million new cases each year.
These trends make finding a simple treatment for glucose intolerance a high priority.
The researchers broke the traditional form of young male mice and fed male and female mice in two age groups (equivalent to 20 and 42-year-old people) on a high-fat and high-sugar diet, with food intake limited to nine hours a day.
The team conducted tests to determine how age and gender affect TRE results on a variety of health parameters: fatty liver; Glucose regulation; Muscle mass, performance and endurance; and survival of sepsis, a life-threatening response to infection.
They also took the rare step of adapting their laboratory conditions to the animals’ circadian clocks (mice sleep during the day and get up at night), which often worked with night vision goggles and special lighting.
When analyzing the tissue of mice for TRE to determine their chemical makeup and processes, the researchers found that TRE is highly protective of fatty liver disease, a condition that affects up to 100 million Americans and for regardless of age, gender, or weight loss profile which no medicine is approved.
“This was the first time we’d studied female mice and we weren’t sure what to expect,” said lead author Amandine Chaix, a former researcher in the panda laboratory and now an assistant professor at the University of Utah.
“We were surprised that the females who received TRE were not protected from weight gain, but still showed metabolic benefits, including less fatty liver and better controlled blood sugar,” added Chaix.
Oral glucose tolerance tests in mice after 16 hours of fasting showed that TRE was associated with smaller increases in blood sugar and a faster return to normal blood sugar levels in both young and middle-aged males, with a significant improvement in glucose tolerance in young and middle-aged females .
Similarly, middle-aged females and males on TRE were able to restore normal blood glucose levels more efficiently than control mice, which had food available at all times.
This finding suggests that TRE may be an inexpensive or free, easy-to-use method to prevent or treat diabetes, and supports the results of the 2019 laboratory study of TRE in metabolic syndrome in humans.
The researchers also found that TRE can protect both men and women from death from sepsis – a particular hazard in intensive care units, especially during the pandemic.
After administering a toxin that caused the mice to develop a sepsis-like state, the researchers monitored survival rates for 13 days and found that TRE protected both male and female mice from death from sepsis.
TRE not only protected against fatty liver, diabetes and death from sepsis; it even allowed male mice to gain and add muscle mass and improve muscle performance (the effect did not apply to females).
This finding is particularly important for older people, for whom improved muscle performance can help protect themselves from falls.
This surprising discovery points to the next steps and new questions for Panda’s lab: Is muscle mass increasing because TRE helps muscles repair and regenerate better? What influence does TRE have on muscle metabolism and regeneration?
“These are very exciting questions for us and we look forward to examining them more closely,” says Panda.
The research was supported by the American Heart Association, the National Institute on Aging, the Glenn Center for Aging Research, and the Wu-Tsai Human Performance Alliance.