Intermittent Fasting - What are the benefits?
Fasting can be something you do sometimes or something that that becomes part of your day to day activities. Fasting has been used for thousands of years as a tool to support healing & is a great rejuvenator for the body.
What Happens When you fast -
1. Autophagy is triggered by fasting. Autophagy literally means ‘self-eat’ which refers to the body eating up diseased & old cells. Even better if those cells are cancer cells.
2. Regeneration occurs after autophagy. This means that new cells are created such as immune cells. This is important to help the body age well.
3. Weight loss & sensitivity to insulin. If we are sensitive to insulin, we need less of it. Insulin is the hormone that tells our body to store fat as there is a plentiful supply of food available.
4. Ketones are good for our brains. Ketones are produced by the liver when fat is broken down into energy. These ketones can improve brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is important for memory, mood & can help to reduce depression.
Types of fasting -
1. Periodic fasting basically involves drinking water or black tea/ green tea, without food for up to 5 days. Obviously, this is not for the faint hearted. But many people regularly see & feel the benefits and do this every few months or at the change of a season.
2. Some people choose to not eat for 24 hours once per week.
3. Some people eat normal healthy foods for 5 days then on the other 2 days restrict their calorie intake right down to 500 calories.
4. Intermittent fasting is one of the most beneficial yet easy methods to include. It is also called time restricted eating. This involves eating during a specific window of time. Usually, 8 hours a day is my recommendation. For most people this may mean having dinner at 6 /7pm then breakfast again at 10 /11am. This allows 16 hours for the body to repair & regenerate without the need to digest more foods.
Intermittent fasting is in my opinion one of the best options.
Health benefits – notice how some of the most chronic illnesses faced today are on this list -
1. Improved gut health
2. Insulin sensitivity
3. Weight loss
4. Better cholesterol / cardiometabolic profile
5. Reduced risk of diabetes
6. More energy
7. Better sleep
8. Less depression & better cognitive function
9. Reduced inflammation
10. Autoimmunity reduction
Fasting is not suitable for some people. Pregnant or extremely sick people should not fast. If you are taking medications, you may need to discuss this with your health care provider. Often a reduced dose is required.