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How Intermittent Fasting Will Heal Your Body and Lengthen Your Life

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is the term used to describe a cyclical pattern of eating and fasting. Although it sounds like a new trend, the truth is that is has been going on since the beginning of time, whether in the form of a religious practice or a forced fast due to a scarcity of food during the hunter-gatherer era.

Whether you know it or not you are actually practising some form of IF already every night when you go to sleep. However, if you want to receive all the incredible benefits of fasting it is important to set some structure to when you chose to eat and not eat. There are various ways you can do this but the most common is a 16 hour fast. For example, you may stop eating at 6 pm and begin eating at 10 am, giving your body 16 hours where it is not digesting any food.

Whatever way you decide works for you the benefits are the same and include but are not limited to:

  • Weight (fat) loss

  • Increase muscle mass

  • Improved gene expression

  • Lower risk of type 2 diabetes

  • Reduced inflammation

  • Reduced oxidative stress

  • Improved heart health

  • Improved brain and mental health

  • Cancer prevention

  • Alzheimer’s prevention

  • Lifespan extension

How does it work?

Fat Loss

When you fast your insulin levels drop and your human growth hormone (HGH) increases, facilitating fat burning and increasing muscle gain (Heilbronn et al., 2005; Ho et al., 1988). Not only does IF affect these hormones, but it can increase metabolism by up to 14% (Mansell et al., 1990), burning even more calories.

Disease Prevention

In addition, the body begins to rid itself of waste and go into cellular repair (Alirezaei et al., 2010). This process is called autophagy and it signifies that the body is healing. Increased autophagy is protective against many serious diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s (Mathew, et al., 2009; Wolfe et al., 2013). It not only prevents cancer but it useful in those who already have cancer as it has also been shown to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy (Safdie et al., 2009). As far as Alzheimer’s is concerned it has not only showed a preventive role in animal studies but 9 out of 10 people with Alzheimer’s saw improvement in their symptoms when they incorporated IF (Bredesen, 2014).

Gene Expression

Epigenetic’s is the study that an individual’s lifestyle and diet determines whether his or her genes will be expressed. If you think of genes, not a predetermined fate but rather a light switch that you can turn on or off depending on the choices you make, then you can see how important it is to keep those bad light switches turned off. IF has been shown to positively affect gene expression (Martin et al., 2006) meaning that just because your mother, grandmother and great-grandmother had a particular disease, doesn’t mean you have to fall into a similar fate.

Blood Sugar Control

Its effect on insulin as previously mentioned does not stop at weight loss but also drastically lowers your risk of developing type 2 diabetes (Barnosky et al., 2014).

Heart Health

It doesn’t stop there, IF has been shown to combat oxidative stress and inflammation, two major contributors toward chronic disease and ageing (De Bont et al., 2004; Johnson et al., 2007) as well as improving cholesterol, blood triglycerides, and blood pressure (Varady et al., 2009; de Azevedo et al; 2013).

Life Extension

One of the most exciting research on IF is its ability to extend your life. Rat studies show that rats who fasted every other day lived 83% longer than rats who didn’t (Goodrick et al., 1982)!

Is it for everyone?

IF is not a diet but a lifestyle choice. Although most individuals can receive huge benefits from incorporating fasting into their life, those who are breastfeeding, pregnant, have menstrual irregularities or fertility issues, a history of eating disorders, low blood pressure, are underweight, or any other serious medical condition should consult a qualified practitioner before taking up fasting.

To sources cited, click here.


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