What if you were told you could add decades on to your life in just five days? It may sound too good to be true, but one scientist believes the answer is simple: Fasting.

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Italian scientist Valter Longo has studied the effects of fasting and believes that by occasionally avoiding solid foods, our bodies will start to grow younger.

“If you take a bacteria and you starve it, the bacteria live longer, become stronger,” Dr Longo told Sunday Night reporter Denham Hitchcock.

In one of his studies, several mice were put on strict diets to mimic the fasting process.

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Dr Valter Longo believes fasting is the key to a longer and healthier life.

Dr Longo found that the mice lived 11 to 18 per cent longer than mice on a normal diet.

Follow up tests on volunteers suggested the extreme diet caused something extraordinary to happen within the human body: It killed off damaged cells that create diseases like cancer.

“The body gets rid of damaged cells simply to save energy,” he explained.

But remarkably Dr Longo found that when a patient began to eat again after the fast, new stem cells were created.

Stem cells are the body’s building blocks and have the ability to become any cell in the human body.

Dr Longo argued that it is possible to rebuild a healthier body from the inside out by fasting, but recommended the process be completed under the guidance of a GP.

During the fasting period, participants consume only a third of calories of a regular diet.

Dr Longo said that for many, a five-day fast once a year will make a huge difference to health and longevity.

“To a percentage of people, this could make a difference to getting cancer and not getting cancer, or getting cardiovascular disease and never getting cardiovascular disease, or getting diabetes and never having diabetes,” he said.

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