Who knew that just imitating a fast could help slow down the aging process? A recent study says that  a five-day diet that mimics fasting can help add years to life by slowing the aging process.

A team of researchers at the University of Southern California says it discovered how fasting can help lengthen human lives. The team conducted its study on human subjects and the study findings could soon actually be regarded as the “first safe and effective diet intervention,” reported Medical Daily.

In 2014, the same team of researchers found that regeneration of the immune system is facilitated by fasting. However, now the team claims that even the intake of calorie-restricted diet can have the same effect.

According to the researchers, consuming a diet comprising of chamomile tea and vegetable soup for five days in a month can help increase longevity, and the person can eat anything for the rest of the month.

“Strict fasting is hard for people to stick to, and it can also be dangerous, so we developed a complex diet that triggers the same effects in the body,” said the lead researcher, Valter Longo, in a statement. “I've personally tried both, and the fasting mimicking diet is a lot easier and also a lot safer.”

The human trial conducted by the researchers involved 19 participants. The intent of the trial was to replicate Longo's previous study that involved a trial on yeast and mice. During the clinical trial, the participants were asked to lower their calorie intake by 34 to 54 percent for five days a month, to mimic the effect of fasting. For the remaining days, they were allowed to eat whatever they wanted to.

At the end of the third month, the researchers took a note of the biomarkers of the participants. The team observed that all the participants were at a decreased risk of aging, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Reportedly, the number of stem cells also increased in the participants, ultimately enhancing the life span of the individual.

The “fasting mimic diet” was found to have decreased the belly fat in the participants. In addition, the mimic diet helped enhance memory and learning skills in the individuals.

The complete study results have been published in the journal Cell Metabolism.