Caloric restriction, intermittent fasting and joint pain

One of the most fascinating subjects in health is caloric restriction and fasting, since both have been shown to promote healing, health, and longevity.

  • Short-term caloric restriction suppressed oxidative stress and improved cardiac function.(1)
  • Caloric restriction increases the level of the hormone DHEA (short for dehydroepiandrosterone) in muscle and blood, suggesting that DHEA might partially mediate anti-aging, anti-obesity, and
    health-promoting effects.(2)
  • Caloric restriction has been found to reverse the impairment caused by a high-fat diet with very high energy efficiency in a short period.(3) In the context of joint repair, caloric restriction becomes especially intriguing.
  • Caloric restriction may be beneficial for wound healing efficiency in aging individuals.(4)

Fasting triggered stem cell-based regeneration

In 1985, doctors at the University of Southern California released research showing that fasting triggered stem cell-based regeneration. They found that cycles of prolonged fasting not only protect against immune system damage, but also induce immune system regeneration, shifting stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.

Such findings have significant implications for healthier aging, as the decline in immune system function with aging contributes to increased susceptibility to disease. Calorie restriction with adequate nutrition is the only nongenetic intervention, and the most consistent nonpharmacological one, that both extends the lifespan and reduces inflammation.(5,6)

Inflammation and caloric restriction

Arthritis is related to inflammation in the joint tissue. Reducing inflammation through proper food choices and diet is something I recommend to all my patients. Then why do I use the  inflammation of regenerative medicine to heal the body? Consider the following precepts:

1. Musculoskeletal pain and arthritis is often caused by chronic inflammation that is uncontrolled.

2. Regenerative medicine causes a controlled, short burst of inflammation, which is needed to initiate the growth of new tissue.

3. The short burst of inflammation brings new healing cells to the injured or worn tissue, stimulating new tissue growth which stops the chronic inflammation.

Foods that may aggravate arthritis and should be minimized in the diet:

  • Foods high in saturated fat (e.g., dairy, red meat, and baked goods)
  • Coffee (because of the high acid content)
  • Sugary foods
  • Refined grains (e.g., refined pasta, white rice, and white breads)
  • Refined or processed foods (if it’s in a box or a can, it’s processed)
  • Alcohol

Foods that help lower inflammation in the body and should be mainstays of the diet:

Vegetables and certain fruits (create an alkaline environment)

  • Whole grains, such as brown rice and bulgur wheat
  • Sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish (e.g. salmon and mackerel), fish oil supplements, and walnuts
  • Lean protein sources (e.g., chicken, turkey, or beans)
  • Green tea


1 Kobara M, Furumori-Yukiya A, Kitamura M, Matsumura M, Ohigashi M, Toba H, Nakata T. Short-term caloric restriction suppresses cardiac oxidative stress and hypertrophy from chronic pressure overload. J Card Fail. 2015 May 13. pii: S1071-9164(15)00127-X. doi: 10.1016/j.cardfail.2015.04.016. [Epub ahead of print.]
2. Yokokawa T, Sato K, Iwanaka N, Honda H, Higashida K, Iemitsu M, Hayashi T, Hashimoto T. Dehydroepiandrosterone activates AMP kinase and regulates GLUT4 and PGC-1α expression in C2C12 myotubes. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015 May 15. pii: S0006-291X(15)00908-0. doi: 10.1016/j. bbrc.2015.05.013. [Epub ahead of print.]
3. Gong H, Han YW, Sun L. The effects of energy intake of four different feeding patterns in rats. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2015 May 12. pii: 1535370215584890. [Epub ahead of print.]
4.  Yanai H, Toren D, Vierlinger K, Hofner M, Nöhammer C, Chilosi M, Budovsky A, Fraifeld VE. Wound healing and longevity: lessons from long lived αMUPA mice. Aging (Albany, NY). 2015 Mar;7(3):167-76. [Erratum: Aging 2016.]
5. Wu S. Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of damaged, old immune system. USC News. 2014 June 5.
6. Testa G, Biasi F, Poli G, Chiarpotto E. Calorie restriction and dietary restriction mimetics: a strategy for improving healthy aging and longevity. Curr Pharm Des. 2013 Sep 26. [Epub ahead of print.]

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