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You might have heard about intermittent fasting but did you know it has many amazing health benefits? Some people believe it’s not healthy, while some might even call it dangerous but there is enough studies out there to prove it’s heath benefits.
There’s also studies showing that fasting for 48 – 72 hours can not only boost your immune system but actually help regenerate it. Fasting can also help in repairing or improving gut health, which is key to good health and well being.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern which involves restricting your food or cycling between periods of fasting and eating. It’s currently a hot topic at the moment within the health and fitness industry.
There are many variations but these are the most common methods:
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 diet: With this methods, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.
- The 16/8 method: This method involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.
What Happens to Your Body when Fasting?
Your body will go through some changes that are beneficial to your health and longevity. These are some of the things that will happen,
- Cellular regeneration: When fasting, your cells start the repair process. This includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells.
- Gene expression: There are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease and recovery.
- Increase in human growth hormone (HGH): The levels of growth hormone increase, sometimes by as much as 5-fold. This has huge benefits for fat loss and muscle gain.
- Improvement in insulin levels: It helps improves insulin sensitivity and levels of insulin can drop dramatically. High insulin levels can cause damage to the body so it’s important to keep insulin levels low and regulated.
With these changes, your body will start to feel the health benefits of intermittent fasting.
What are the Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Here are the more commonly known health benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Anti-aging: Intermittent fasting has shown to extend life span, where studies where conducted in animals . Studies showed it increased the life span of rates from 15 – 30 %.
- Protects the brain: Intermittent fasting boosters the production of the brain hormone BDNF and may aid the growth of new nerve cells. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease
- May prevent cancer: Fasting starves cancer cells allowing the immune system to help the body fight off the cancer.
- Improve heart health: Intermittent fasting may reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance which all contribute to heart disease.
- Inflammation: Autophagy from fasting helps the body cleanse itself of old or damages cells therefore reducing inflammation.
- Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%, which should protect against type 2 diabetes
- Weight loss: One the biggest reason, intermittent fasting is popular is that it help you lose weight and belly fat, without having to consciously restrict calories
There are some important notes that you must heed, if you have a medical condition, you should consult with a medical professional before trying intermittent fasting.
This is particularly important if you:
- Are underweight
- Are a woman who is trying to conceive.
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Are a woman with a history of amenorrhea.
- Have a history of eating disorders.
- Have diabetes.
- Have problems with blood sugar regulation.
- Have low blood pressure.
- Taking medications.
With all that being said, intermittent fasting has some amazing health benefits. It might not be fit for all but it’s a great way to detox the body and is also safe enough to adopt as a lifestyle change. It doesn’t have to be permanet but can be use as a natural remedy or treatment to heal the mind and body.