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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

NUS researcher’s digital health study reveals benefits of intermittent fasting

Professor Dean Ho from NUS documents significant health improvements through a meticulously monitored regimen of intermittent fasting and exercise.

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In a pioneering study, Professor Dean Ho from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has documented the profound health benefits of intermittent fasting coupled with a rigorous exercise regimen, using himself as the subject. Over a seven-month period, Prof Ho engaged in daily 20-hour fasts while adhering to a stringent fitness and diet plan, demonstrating significant improvements in both physical and metabolic health.

Harnessing technology to enhance health outcomes

As the Director of the Institute for Digital Medicine (WisDM) and a leader at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Prof Ho incorporated various digital health technologies to monitor and analyse his health . By integrating sensors and wearable devices, he was able to track changes in his body's ketone and glucose levels, blood pressure, and overall weight throughout his fasting journey. These technologies not only facilitated a deeper understanding of the metabolic switch to ketosis—a state where the body burns fat for energy instead of sugars—but also highlighted the dynamic nature of health responses to dietary and exercise interventions.

Prof Ho's disciplined approach included a “clean eating” diet focused on Mediterranean staples such as leafy greens, seeds, and lean proteins, paired with strength and cardiovascular each morning. This rigorous routine led to remarkable outcomes: a 7.5 kg weight loss, a 20% increase in grip strength, the ability to lift heavier weights, and completing 1,000 push-ups in under 40 minutes. His A1c levels, which reflect average blood sugar concentrations, remained well within the normal range at 4.8% (29 mmol/mol).

Personalised health management: A new frontier

The results of this comprehensive self-study, published in the peer-reviewed journal PNAS Nexus, underscore the potential for personalized health management. Prof Ho's findings suggest that visualising one's biomarker data can significantly bolster adherence to health regimens, turning the pursuit of wellness into a highly engaging, game-like experience.

“As individuals are all different from one another, and even from themselves over time, this approach represents a shift towards more personalised and engaging health management,” Prof Ho explained. He advocates starting with small, manageable changes, such as reducing sugar intake, to gradually foster a more extensive health regimen.

The study not only advances the “Quantified Self” movement, where individuals use digital tools to track and improve their health outcomes, but also sets the stage for broader applications in health economics, clinical innovation, and community health strategies. These insights pave the way for future research aimed at understanding how personal health data can drive long-term behavioural changes at an individual level.

As the field of digital health continues to evolve, Prof Ho and his team are planning further studies to explore how continuous monitoring of health metrics can influence and sustain positive health behaviours across populations.

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Nurin Sofia
Nurin Sofia
Nurin Sofia is a news editor at Tech Edition. Her interest is in technology and startups, occasionally crunching news for gaming. Sofia enjoys playing video games, going on bike rides, and gardening when she isn't behind a keyboard.

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