Regular fasting may do more than just help people shed weight, a new study found, suggesting that it can also improve longevity while lowering the risk of chronic ailments.

The study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, focused on 34 people who were monitored by researchers. While 19 participants followed the Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD), the others were kept on a regular diet, The Times Gazette reported. An FMD diet is low in proteins and calories and is followed for a minimum of five days a month.

The participants who followed the FMD diet showed a significant reduction in the risk of developing type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, The Times Gazette reported. Participants also lost weight at the end of the three-month trial, and their blood sugar levels were lower.

However, not all in the medical community support the FMD diet arguing that shocking the metabolism can cause disturbances to sleep patterns. Opposing researchers also claim plenty of cancer markers remain unaffected by the diet, The Times Gazette reported.