Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
By Sogol Mousavi (BSc, MIPH)
While last year’s trend – the ketogenic diet – is still going strong, an emergent body of research suggests that intermittent fasting (IF) is one of the best-proven ways to improve health. In addition, many people have found success using IF to lose weight. However, its benefits go far beyond just that. IF is also linked to improved blood-glucose, decreased inflammation and increased cognitive function (1).
This is because similar to the Paleo diet, it resembles the way our ancestors ate. According to renowned cardiologist Steven Gundry (3), “our ancestors didn’t crawl out of their cave and say ‘what’s for breakfast?’ There wasn’t any refrigerator or even any storage system.” This meant that at times, our ancestors would not eat until midday or even in the evening. Scientists are now discovering that this length of time spent fasting might actually have a therapeutic effect, both on the body and the brain (2).
One of the biggest misconceptions about intermittent fasting is that it focuses on calorie deprivation for weight loss. However, integrative medicine specialist Amy Shah recommends fasting to her patients in order to fight inflammation, improve digestion, and improve their longevity (1). “By modulating your hormones (insulin and growth hormone) and increasing cellular repair, intermittent fasting is a multitasking anti-inflammatory powerhouse. (1)”
Furthermore, according to integrative neurologist Ilene Ruhoy, who uses IF as a brain-boosting tool, “IF is beneficial because it slows the regular transport of glucose into the brain cells and allows the existing glucose and glycogen stores to be converted to energy. This energy can then be used to focus on brain cell metabolic processes, enhancing brain function and allowing one to gain greater energy and mental clarity. (1)”
There are several conditions which can benefit from IF, including people who are obese, have type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and fatty liver disease (1). However, according to Jason Fund, author of The Complete Guide to Fasting, the biggest benefits are seen in the prevention of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease (1). Essentially, fasting is like decluttering for your brain, a restorative timeout for your gut, and gives your cells the time to clear out old proteins and other material so they can properly rebuild and regenerate (4).
1. mindbodygreen. Your official list to what’s going to be HUGE in 2018 [Internet]. mindbodygreen. mindbodygreen; 2017 [cited 2018Jun11]. Available from: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/wellness-trends-2018
2. Lidicker G. New Research Shows How Intermittent Fasting Is Like Decluttering For Your Brain [Internet]. mindbodygreen. mindbodygreen; 2016 [cited 2018Jun11]. Available from: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-28129/new-research-shows-how-intermittent-fasting-is-like-declutteri…
3. Intermittent Fasting: Fad or the Future? [Internet]. mindbodygreen. mindbodygreen; 2017 [cited 2018Jun11]. Available from: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/revitalize/video/intermittent-fasting-fad-or-the-future
4. Shah A. Intermittent Fasting Can Heal Your Gut & Calm Inflammation. Here’s Exactly How To It [Internet]. mindbodygreen. mindbodygreen; 2017 [cited 2018Jun11]. Available from: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-28912/intermittent-fasting-can-heal-your-gut-calm-inflammation-heres…