Benefits of intermittent fasting

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting means switching between eating and fasting at different times. It's become trendy lately, especially for losing weight. But there are many other good things it can do for your body.

There are different ways to do intermittent fasting, depending on how long you fast. For example, the 16:8 method is where you eat during an 8-hour window each day and fast for 16 hours. Or the 5:2 method, where you usually eat for five days and then cut back on calories for two days.

Whatever method you choose, talking to a doctor is smart.

This article talks about ten possible benefits of intermittent fasting.

Weight loss

Weight loss

Recent studies indicate that intermittent fasting could be a helpful way to manage weight. While it's probably not better than just cutting calories, some people might stick with it better in the long run.

A study from 2017 looked at how intermittent fasting compared to a regular diet in terms of weight loss over a year. Both methods were equally good for losing weight. There weren't any significant differences between the two groups in other health measures like blood pressure or heart rate.

A lower risk of type 2 diabetes

A lower risk of type 2 diabetes

Intermittent fasting isn't just about weight loss; it could also help prevent diabetes. Research suggests it can reduce insulin resistance, a critical factor in type 2 diabetes.

Being overweight is a considerable risk for type 2 diabetes, so losing weight can lower that risk, especially if someone has prediabetes.

A review from 2022 found that intermittent fasting can cut insulin resistance. It might happen because eating less can mean the body makes less insulin. But we still need more research and extensive studies to be sure it's better than just cutting calories.

However, a study in rats from 2018 hinted that intermittent fasting might raise diabetes risk. But more research to see if that's true for people.

Another study from 2015, mentioned in a 2017 review, found that intermittent fasting might help men control their blood sugar better than women. After three weeks, men's blood sugar got better, but women's contact was worse.

Improved heart health

Improved heart health

Studies suggest that intermittent fasting might also be good for heart health.

A review from 2016 found that intermittent fasting could lower blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, and triglycerides in both people and animals. Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood that's tied to heart problems.

Improved brain health

Improved brain health

All the ways intermittent fasting can help the body, like cutting inflammation, blood sugar, and insulin resistance, might also be good for the brain.

A study in animals from 2019 found that intermittent fasting might help grow new nerve cells, which could improve brain function.

Other studies in animals have suggested that intermittent fasting might lower the chances of getting brain diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and stroke. But we also need more research to see if this is true for people,

Reduced risk of cancer

Reduced risk of cancer

Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting might lower the risk of cancer.

Recent animal research shows that diets like intermittent fasting could delay the start of tumours. But so far, there's no evidence in humans.

The World Health Organization says obesity can raise the risk of many cancers. So, losing weight with intermittent fasting might help lower that risk.

Intermittent fasting could also bring down things in the body linked to cancer, like insulin and inflammation.

Changes to the function of cells, genes, and hormones

Changes to the function of cells, genes, and hormones

When someone goes without eating for a while, several changes happen in their body:

  1. Hormone levels shift: The body adjusts hormone levels to more easily tap into stored body fat.
  2. Insulin levels decrease: Lower insulin levels help kickstart fat burning.
  3. Human growth hormone (HGH) increases: The bloodstream might see a boost in HGH, which aids fat-burning and muscle growth and offers other perks.
  4. Cellular repair kicks in: Important repairs start at the cellular level, like clearing out waste material from cells.
  5. Gene expression changes: Certain genes switch up in ways that help protect against diseases and possibly increase lifespan.

Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation

Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation

Oxidative stress occurs when unstable molecules called free radicals react with essential molecules like proteins and DNA, causing damage. This process is linked to aging and many chronic diseases.

According to a 2018 review, intermittent fasting could boost the body's ability to resist oxidative stress.

Additionally, a study from 2019 suggests that intermittent fasting also decreases inflammation, contributing to various health conditions.

Induces cellular repair processes

Induces cellular repair processes

When someone fasts, their body starts a cellular cleanup process known as autophagy.

During autophagy, cells break down and recycle damaged or faulty proteins that can accumulate over time.

The uptick in autophagy during fasting periods might offer protection against conditions like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

A 2023 study suggests that intermittent fasting can trigger autophagy. This activation could also enhance the benefits of intermittent fasting.

Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease

A review from 2023 discovered that the body's physiological adjustments during intermittent fasting might delay the start of Alzheimer’s disease.

Animal studies conducted in 2019 also indicated that intermittent fasting could potentially guard against other neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases. However, further research must confirm whether these findings apply to humans.

Improves longevity

Improves longevity

Animal studies suggest intermittent fasting could increase lifespan similarly to long-term calorie restriction.

A study on mice from 2017 revealed that alternate-day fasting led to a 13% extension in their lifespan.

Another study on mice conducted in 2019 demonstrated that intermittent fasting enhanced the overall health of male mice. It helped to delay age-related conditions like fatty liver disease. However, further research is necessary to confirm if these findings apply to humans.

Conclusion

Research suggests that intermittent fasting may offer numerous health benefits, including potential protection against conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and certain neurodegenerative disorders. Animal studies also indicate a possible extension of lifespan and improvement in overall health through intermittent fasting. However, more research is needed to understand its effects on humans and its long-term implications fully.

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