Intermittent fasting is one of the most effective ways to eat healthier. Science’s outlook on intermittent fasting has progressed to a point where it is now viewed as an approach to heal your body. Many physicians and nutritionists advocate this along with eating more fresh fruits and vegetables for the prevention of many diseases, cancer included. This is confirmed by Mark Mattson, a senior author and neuroscientist at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Medicine.
There are two popular ways of practicing intermittent fasting. The first focuses on a time-restricted feeding between 6 to 8 hours every day. The second is a 5:2 fasting plan where a person can have just one mid-sized meal on two days each week. Let’s delve in to see how intermittent fasting can boost your health.
Intermittent fasting improves the nerve functions of your brain
The brain function improves with intermittent fasting as it pumps up the creation of a protein known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF propels the neural stem cells to change into new neurons. This leads to various other chemical triggers that benefit brain health. This protein also helps in protecting the brain cells from deteriorations related to Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s.
Fasting is good for your heart
At present, heart disease is the biggest killer on the planet. It’s well-known that numerous risk-factors are related to both a higher or lower chance of heart disease. It has been seen that intermittent fasting lowers the risk factors for diabetes, hypertension and inflammation. These all contribute to a better heart function, since it essentially helps the blood flow better. It is however, best if you exercise for at least half an hour every day when following an intermittent fasting plan.
Your metabolism speeds up with intermittent fasting
The digestive system gets a rest with intermittent fasting, which propels the metabolism to burn calories more efficiently. Poor digestion affects the process of metabolizing food and burning fat. Intermittent fasting helps in promoting healthy bowel function, which regulates digestion and improves metabolic function.
Fasting improves blood sugar control to help you stay away from diabetes
Various studies have shown that intermittent fasting promotes blood sugar control, which is particularly helpful for people that are prone to diabetes. According to a study of 10 people afflicted with type 2 diabetes; short-term fasting can help in remarkably decreasing blood sugar levels (1Trusted Source). Decreasing insulin resistance can heighten the body’s reactivity to insulin, which enables more efficient transportation of glucose to your cells from your bloodstream. In addition to fasting’s possible blood sugar-lowering benefits, this prevents extreme highs and lows in your blood sugar levels by keeping the blood sugar stable.
Intermittent fasting helps you look younger
Studies show that fasting can help simulate the outcome of extremely low-calorie diets that are beneficial for anti-ageing, as per dietitian Foroutan. According to a research paper published in the journal Cell Metabolism in 2014, intermittent fasting can help in decelerating ageing as well as preventing and treating diseases. The study showed that fasting activates adaptive cellular stress responses resulting in a higher capability to bear increased stress and curb disease. Foroutan explained that anti-ageing is brought about by higher mitochondrial stress due to low-calorie diets. Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cells, hence, if it works more efficiently then the body will also work better.
Ideal foods and tips
Though the 16:8 intermittent fasting routine does not highlight which foods to consume and avoid, it is helpful to pay attention to healthy eating and avoiding or limiting junk food. Consuming a high content of unhealthy foods may lead to weight gain, thereby also contributing to disease.
The primary focus of a balanced diet should be on:
● vegetables and fruits, either fresh, canned in water, or frozen
● whole grains such as barley, oats, brown rice, and quinoa
● lean sources of protein including eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, seeds, nuts, tofu, lentils, beans, fish, and poultry
● healthy fats from seeds, nuts, avocados, coconuts, olive oil, olives, and fatty fish
Tips for beginners
Below are the most useful advice for beginners, and I can personally attest to them:
● Hydration is the key. Fasting doesn’t mean that you are not going to be eating or drinking anything. For eating, timing is valuable. However, you should be drinking a lot of fluids all through the day. Keep on having water or unsweetened teas to stay well-hydrated.
● Keep an eye on calorie intake. Ensure that your calorie intake is adequate as it is important for the correct basal metabolic rate. You could hit a plateau or have slow metabolism if it is not maintained.
● Understand when to stop. Back off from your intermittent fasting routine the minute you experience dizziness, weakness, electrolyte disturbance signs, cardiovascular side effects, or have trouble sleeping. Consult a physician when you experience those symptoms.
Take note of the following before you start intermittent fasting
There is no harm in trying intermittent fasting if you are a fit and healthy person. However, people with body dysmorphia or eating disorders, or a history of it, should not attempt intermittent fasting. Pregnant or breastfeeding women, those with type 1 diabetes, as well as people who are on prescription drugs that are meant to be had with food at a definite time should also stay off intermittent fasting.
A few years ago when I was really keen to drop weight, I did a 18:6 combination where I exercised in the morning and only had my first meal at noon and then closed the eating window at 6pm. It was very effective in dropping weight quickly, but ultimately, I think too extreme to be sustainable.
16:8 is the best combination because then the morning isn’t as long and you’re unlikely to get too hungry if you’re eating breakfast at 10am. The best thing about IF is that you stop eating at 6pm which means you’re not snacking before going to bed which is surely the worst thing you can do if you are trying to stay lean.
Thanks for reading my article on how intermittent fasting can boost your health. I hope you found it useful.