Health

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting has been making quite the buzz among health trends. It has been becoming increasingly popular since 2012 and people continue to be curious about what it’s all about. 

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting or IF is an eating pattern where you cycle between times of fasting and eating.  The idea behind IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off  fat.The nice thing about IF is that it offers flexibility. You can fast for as long or as short as you want. There are a few popular regimens that most people do. When researching this subject I came across a ton of info and resources but I wanted to try to condense it down so it was not so overwhelming and give just the basics on the subject.

Methods

16:8

The 16:8 method involves daily fast for 16 hours a day. You have a 8 hour eating period, where for example you would eat from 10am-6pm. 

20:4

There is also the 20:4 method where you would only have a 4 hour eating window and fast for the remainder of the 20 hours of the days. 

24 hours+

 Some also choose to do longer fasts where theft fast for an entire day or many days. Longer fasts are encouraged to be done under the supervision of medical professionals. 

Benefits

  • Weight Loss
  • Lower blood insulin and sugar levels
  • Reversal of Diabetes
  • Deceleration or prevention of Disease

One of the biggest benefits of IF is weight loss, but there are many more amazing health benefits. The entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat. Therefore lowering blood insulin and sugar level, possibly reversing type 2 diabetes.  There is a large amount of evidence that shows fasting being associated with deceleration or prevention of most chronic degenerative and chronic inflammatory diseases. Intermittent fasting may also be useful as an accompanying treatment during chemotherapy. It is always 100% recommended to consult your healthcare professional before attempting even a short fast especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are undergoing any type of treatment or medication regimen. It is also recommended that IF be accompanied by a healthy whole food diet and physical activity to enhance the benefits and keep the body healthy during and after the fast. 

The Science

There are many studies that have been done proving the science behind the effectiveness of intermittent fasting. An article in The New England Journal of Medicine found here, talks about the results found in studies done showing how Intermittent Fasting affects general health indicators and slows or reverses aging and disease.  During fasting, cells activate pathways that enhance intrinsic defenses against oxidative and metabolic stress and those that remove or repair damaged molecules. Cells respond to IF by engaging in a coordinated adaptive stress response that leads to increased expression of antioxidant defenses, DNA repair, protein quality control, mitochondrial biogenesis and autophagy, and down-regulation of inflammation. There is so much more evidence and information on the scientific benefits of IF on the body, if you are interested in really getting into the science and the information provided in the studies follow the link and sources for more information. 

Sources

Effects of intermittent fasting on health, aging, and disease. de Cabo R, Mattonson MP. New England Journal of Medicine, December 2019

Michalsen A, Li C. Fasting therapy for treating and preventing disease – current state of evidence. Forsch Komplementmed. 2013;20(6):444-53. doi: 10.1159/000357765. Epub 2013 Dec 16. PMID: 24434759.
Monique Tello, MD. “Intermittent Fasting: Surprising Update.” Harvard Health Blog, 10 Feb. 2020, http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156.

Monique Tello, MD. “Intermittent Fasting: Surprising Update.” Harvard Health Blog, 10 Feb. 2020, http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156. 

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