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The Big Q: Want to lose belly fat, get smarter and also live longer?

A set of new studies finds that a periodic diet that mimics fasting works in animal studies could help humans live longer too.

The University of Southern California, aka USC, team reports the diet works in yeast and mice, and that a small pilot study showed it also decreased in people risk factors that include aging, as well as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

In the human study, 19 participants followed a complex, customized diet, for 5 days each month that slashed their caloric intake down to 34-54% of normal, with a specific composition of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and micronutrients.

The diet decreased amounts of the hormone IGF-I, which is a promoter of aging and has been linked to cancer. The benefits also persisted even after the study period was over, the researchers said.

They are now testing the diet in a randomized clinical trial with 70 people. If the results are confirmed, they to meet with US Food and Drug Administration officers to have it approved for disease prevention and treatment.

The researchers warn against trying to copy the plan with a water-only fast or in some other way, noting that fasting can be dangerous for some people.

Have a terrific weekend.