Scientists have done tests on mice that show fasting can have health benefits. Fasting is eating or drinking little or nothing for a short period of time - 24 hours or sometimes a few days. The tests were done at universities in the USA and Italy. Scientists found that fasting in mice can lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other diseases. The scientists fed mice for four days on a diet low in calories, protein and carbohydrates but high in fat. They then gave the mice just 10% of their normal food for three days. The scientists found this made the pancreas in the mice work better.
The pancreas is the organ that uses special beta cells to produce the hormone insulin. The body uses insulin to break down sugar in the blood. People with diabetes cannot produce enough insulin so they have health problems and it can be deadly. There is too much sugar in their blood. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas stops producing insulin. In type 2 diabetes, either not enough insulin is produced or the insulin has no effect. Scientists said the fasting mice produced increased amounts of insulin. They said their results were promising and tests now needed to be done on humans.