A growing body of research shows that intermittent fasting might slow down the aging process and lead to longer life. However, as anyone who's ever fasted for religious reasons or before a surgery knows, it can be difficult to stick to a true fast. 

This was the motivation behind a recent study conducted at the University of Southern California (USC) on the effects of a "fasting mimic" diet. Developed by the researchers to imitate the effects of a fast while still allowing dieters to eat once in a while, the diet calls for spending five days out of every month consuming only chamomile tea and vegetable soup.

The researchers recruited 19 participants for the study, who followed the prescribed diet for three months. At the end of the third month, they were examined for biomarkers, or biological signs that point to increased risk of certain diseases, like diabetes and cancer, as well as aging. The researchers found that all of the participants displayed significant reductions in their aging, diabetes, cancer and heart disease markers. Moreover, the participants were discovered to have more stem cells, possibly leading to a longer lifespan.

"Strict fasting is hard for people to stick to, and it can also be dangerous, so we developed a complex diet that triggers the same effects in the body," lead researcher Valter Longo explained in a statement. "I've personally tried both, and the fasting mimicking diet is a lot easier and also a lot safer."

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