Intermittent and periodic fasting (IF and PF, respectively) are emerging as safe strategies to affect longevity and healthspan by acting on cellular aging and disease risk factors, while causing no or minor side effects. IF lasting from 12 to 48 hours and repeated every 1 to 7 days and PF lasting 2 to 7 days and repeated once per month or less have the potential to prevent and treat disease, but their effect on cellular aging and the molecular mechanisms involved are only beginning to be unraveled. Here, we describe the different fasting methods and their effect on longevity in organisms ranging from yeast to humans, linking them to the major nutrient-sensing signaling pathways and focusing on the benefits of the fasting and the refeeding periods. We also discuss both the therapeutic potential and side effects of IF and PF with a focus on cancer, autoimmunity, neurodegeneration and metabolic and cardiovascular disease.
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