23 May 2023

Interval fasting has a negative effect on fertility

Biologists at the University of East Anglia analyzed the effects of time-limited eating, a type of interval starvation, on fertility. A study on fish showed negative effects on sperm and eggs that persisted for some time after returning to normal food intake.

The researchers used danio rerio fish as a model organism to analyze the changes that can occur in people who adhere to interval starvation. They measured how males and females reallocate limited resources between normal body function, germ cell production and offspring creation.

The analysis showed that female fish "redistribute" resources toward somatic growth (changes in body size) after returning to normal nutrition, while reducing egg quality. In particular, fin growth was accompanied by a decrease in the 24-hour survival rate of the offspring after fertilization. Males subjected to a similar treatment showed a decrease in sperm velocity and a decrease in offspring survival 24 hours after fertilization.

These results underscore the importance of considering not only the effects of starvation on body maintenance, but also on egg and sperm production. It is important to note that some negative effects on eggs and sperm quality can be observed after animals return to normal food intake after time-limited feeding.

Time-limited eating is a diet in which people limit their food intake to certain hours of the day. Previous studies have shown that starvation increases longevity in invertebrates and improves health biomarkers in vertebrates. In addition, this approach is increasingly popular with humans as well.
The researchers note that so far, the effects of starvation have been studied mainly on weight and health, but not on fertility. The new data show possible negative effects, further analysis is needed to understand how long it takes for sperm and egg quality to return to normal after starvation.

Source: Transgenerational fitness effects of lifespan extension by dietary restriction in Caenorhabditis elegans | Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (royalsocietypublishing.org)

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