One day in the not-so-distant future, you may find yourself receiving some unusual health advice from your GP: fast two days a week to prevent your brain shrinking with age.

You might be given the same advice to lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes — and even tackle cancer.

Fasting was a common medical treatment in the past, but now new research suggests there may be good reason for it to make a comeback. This is because it seems to trigger all sorts of healthy hormonal and metabolic changes.

Researchers have long known that cutting back animals’ calories over an extended period can make them live up to 50 per cent longer — it’s been harder to prove benefits in humans because few people can stick to this restrictive regimen.

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