Doctors devise new diet that can help asthma and arthritis

Doctors and scientists, who have been testing the diet on themselves for three years, say it can have health benefits on diverse conditions ranging from asthma to heart disease.

Dr James Johnson, who co-wrote the report with colleagues from Stanford and New Orleans universities, said the diet involves eating normally one day and then cutting food intake the next day to between 20 and 50 per cent.

Dr Johnson, who reports having lost 35lbs in the first 11 weeks of being on the diet, said: "We have observed improvement in a variety of disease conditions, starting within two weeks, including insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, infectious disease, periodontal disease, and cardiac arrhythmias."

For people who want to lose weight, according to the report, the diet has the psychological advantage of not subjecting them to permanent food deprivation. But the scientists said what they call "up-day, down-day" dieting also has health-promoting effects.

"For three years we have experimented with an alternate day pattern of eating in which intake is limited to 20-50 per cent of estimated daily requirement one day followed by ad lib eating the next day," the report said. "This alternate day calorie restriction appears to have health-promoting effects in the absence of weight loss."

The report added: "Based on a broad range of calorie-restriction studies in animals in which virtually all diseases are delayed, prevented or ameliorated by calorie restriction, we propose that this dietary pattern will delay, prevent or improve a wide variety of human diseases, including multiple sclerosis."