Until someone stumbled across the mythical Fountain of Youth we’ll have to rely on science to tell us how to make the most of our time on this Earth. One of the trends that have increased dramatically in popularity in recent years is intermittent fasting, which is a fancy way of saying that you only eat within a certain time window and abstain from calories for the majority of the day.

Intermittent fasting (IF for short) has been touted as an efficient way to lose weight, but a new review of existing research suggests that its benefits may extend far beyond your waistline. The research, which was published in The New England Journal of Medicine reveals that IF is not only good for shedding unwanted pounds, but it might actually help you live longer.

Research into various types of fasting has revealed health benefits like lower blood pressure. These benefits are clear and the link between better health and IF is relatively well established. However, researchers can’t say for certain whether these health benefits are merely a pleasant side effect of weight loss or if they are directly tied to an IF lifestyle.

Upon reviewing all of the available data, researchers led by author Mark Mattson of Johns Hopkins University suggest that fasting either on a daily basis or for days at a time on a set schedule, can prompt the body to metabolize fats rather than store them. This, of course, leads to weight loss, but it also appears to improve cellular health, which may provide additional benefits.

Some cultures which are known for low caloric intake also tend to live longer, and the researchers suggest that benefits from fasting likely play a role. These days, those who practice IF often opt for the 18/6 style, fasting for 18 hours and then eating over the course of just 6 hours in any given day.

This all sounds like great news for people who enjoy intermittent fasting, but it’s important to note that the body of high-quality research on the topic is still relatively small. As we move forward, new research efforts should reveal more about the benefits and potential drawbacks of regular fasting.