Did you know that you do not have to be constantly eating 3-4, or more meals a day to be healthy?
You may have heard of intermittent fasting. So does it work? How is it physically possible? Are there any benefits? Is it likely to cause problems?
Let’s take a look…
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What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating where you have periods when you are eating for a certain length of time and periods when you are not eating. It is NOT a diet
. What you eat doesn’t change, it is when you eat
We humans beings have practised fasting for centuries.
Our ancestors ate what was freshly accessible, they didn’t have access to a grocery store and occasionally they couldn’t find anything to eat. Their bodies evolved gradually to be able to function without food for longer periods of time.
In this present day, we still have similar biology. Fasting has also been practised for centuries in various religions for spiritual reasons.
So does intermittent fasting work?
Here are 6 benefits of Intermittent Fasting…
1. Intermittent fasting promotes longevity
The cells in your body do require energy to survive and function effectively but did you know that eating so much food over long periods can compromise the function of your cells?
When you allow your body time without food, it triggers and accelerates the production of the human growth hormone (HGH) which is a fat burning hormone vital for health, fitness and longevity.
It has been found to extend life expectancy.
A research published in 2011 by the Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute
found that intermittent fasting activated a 1,300% rise of HGH in women and an amazing 2,000% rise in men (1).
2. Intermittent fasting enhances brain function
Did you know that your brain can benefit from intermittent fasting?
When you do not eat for a period of time, your body will use your fat stores for energy and ketones which are fatty acids
will be released into your blood stream. Ketones have been shown to slow down disease processes in the brain.
A study published in 2003 in the Journal of Neurochemistry
found that intermittent fasting stimulates the production of new neurons from stem cells which may increase the ability of the brain to resist aging and it can protect neurons against degeneration (2).
3. Intermittent fasting reduces inflammation and free radical damage
Did you know that inflammation is the root cause of most chronic diseases?
Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce inflammation. A study published in 2012 in the Nutrition Research
found that intermittent fasting calmed the inflammatory status of the body by holding back the proinflammatory cytokine expression and circulating levels of leukocytes, a white blood cell (3).
Oxidative stress which promotes aging and numerous chronic diseases involves free radical damage.
Intermittent fasting can help control oxidative stress. A study published in 2005 in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry
found that intermittent fasting improves the body’s resistance to oxidative stress (4).
4. Intermittent fasting promotes fat loss
When you eat, your body spends a few hours processing the food, burning what it can from what you just ate, but when you are in a fasted state, your body doesn’t have a recently consumed meal that it can use for energy, instead it uses your fat stores as its primary energy source helping you lose abdominal fat
A review published in 2014 in the Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine
found that intermittent fasting caused weight loss and loss of a lot of belly fat of 3-8% over 3-24 weeks (5).
Intermittent fasting will also boost your metabolism, it will increase your metabolic rate which will, in turn, help to reduce weight gain.
5. Intermittent fasting reduces insulin resistance
When you are not eating, your insulin and blood sugar level is not elevated. Intermittent fasting reduces your insulin and blood sugar level which will increase your insulin and leptin sensitivity and protect against type 2 diabetes.
A study published in 2005 in the Journal of Applied Physiology
found that intermittent fasting increases insulin sensitivity on the whole body level as well as in the adipose tissue (6).
6. Intermittent fasting promotes a healthy heart
Did you know that cardiovascular disease
is regarded as the number 1 cause of death globally? Intermittent fasting can help support the health of your heart.
A study published in the British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease
suggests that intermittent fasting may help those with diabetes and cardiovascular disease (7).
So is intermittent fasting for everyone?
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Avoid intermittent fasting or any type of fasting if you have type 1 diabetes, are pregnant, breastfeeding, hypoglycaemic or living with chronic stress.
If you are on prescribed medications, it is important for you to see your doctor before you start any form of intermittent fasting.
The bottom line
Does intermittent fasting work? Intermittent fasting can be beneficial to your health.
It is an excellent and powerful way to take care of your health and fitness level.
One final tip – always listen to your body when doing intermittent fasting.
Connect with Expert Awele Anne Anyia.
1) Eurekalert, Study finds routine periodic fasting is good for your health , April 3,2011.
2) Mattson M P, Duan W, Guo Z (2003) Meal size and frequency affect neuronal plasticity and vulnerability to disease: cellular and molecular mechanisms. Journal of Neurochemistry, 84: 417-431.
3) Faris M A, Kacimi S, Al-Kurd R A, Fararjeh M A, Bustanji Y K, Mohammad M K, Salem M L (2012) Intermittent fasting during Ramadan attenuates proinflammatory cytokines and immune cells in healthy subjects. Nutrition Research, 32: 947-955.
4) Mattson M P, Wan R (2005) Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 16: 129-137.
5) Barnosky A R, Hoddy K K, Unterman T G, Varady K A (2014) Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, 164: 302-311.
6) Halberg N, Henriksen M, Soderhamn N, Stallknecht B, Ploug T, Schjerling P, Dela F (2005) Effect of Intermittent fasting and refeeding on insulin action in healthy men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 99: 2128-2136. PUBMED.
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