BOSTON (CBS) — More and more dieters are turning to fasting as a way to shed pounds, and now research suggests that fasting may also slow down aging and help prevent disease.

Researchers at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville reviewed numerous studies and found that intermittent fasting was not only associated with significant weight loss but could also stave off disease and perhaps prolong life.

Fasting schedules vary. Some people fast for 16 hours every day. Some fast for a 24-hour period a couple of times a week, but what fasting does is force the body to switch from using glucose or sugar as fuel to using fat. While fasting helps get rid of fat, it also preserves lean muscle mass, unlike some other weight loss programs.

Researchers say intermittent fasting may also decrease inflammation, protect against heart disease, and preserve brain function, but more research is needed. In the meantime, you shouldn’t try to fast unless you talk to your doctor first.