Discovering the Link Between Intermittent Fasting and Longevity
September 28, 2015 | 2,978 views
By Dr. Mercola
When the word "fasting" is mentioned in correlation to a diet, there is a sense of hesitation that follows. But intermittent fasting is different – in a good way.
Intermittent fasting entails eating your meals at a specific timeframe and fasting for at least six to eight hours. This can be as easy as skipping breakfast, having lunch as your first meal, and your last meal or dinner no later than 7:00 PM. This scheduled eating plan is designed to allow your body to effectively use stored fats as an energy source.
Compared to existing diets today that involve strict calorie-counting, limiting meal portions, or even skipping meals altogether, intermittent fasting has extensive health benefits, especially when it comes to improving your longevity.
The Link to Longevity
More than a diet, intermittent fasting is a way of life that I religiously follow, as I believe it can help you live a longer, healthier lifestyle. Fasting, it turns out, has a number of health benefits that most people seek: from improved cardiovascular health and reduced cancer risk, to gene repair and longevity.
According to Dr. Michael Mosley, a British journalist and author of The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting, our eating cycle today sees us consuming more food compared to our ancestors, which then speeds up the "disease process" and results in a lack of natural "repair and rejuvenation programming" in the body.
Some of the most known benefits of intermittent fasting include:
- Getting rid of unhealthy cravings effectively
- Normalizing insulin and leptin sensitivity and ghrelin (“hunger hormone”) levels
- Repairing damaged genes
- Enhancing memory and learning
- Stimulating the production of human growth hormone or HGH, which has anti-aging and fitness benefits
- Prompting stem cells to generate new white blood cells and helping to regenerate the immune system1
- Decreasing triglyceride levels, oxidative stress, inflammation, and free radical damage
- Boosting the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which initiates the conversion to new neurons of brain stem cells to and triggering other chemicals that promote neural health
In addition, intermittent fasting positively affects your body’s ability to combat diseases – including dementia, epilepsy, modern autism, and Alzheimer’s – and improve their biomarkers.2
Careful Considerations on Fasting
I have experimented with different types of scheduled eating for the past few years and have concluded that it’s easiest to comply with the type of fasting that I recommend, which is to simply restrict your daily eating to a specific window of time, such as an eight-hour window, especially once your body has shifted from burning sugar to burning fat as its primary fuel.
But aside from this type of intermittent fasting, there are also other fasting plans you can incorporate into your lifestyle, such as:
- 5:2 Intermittent Fasting
In his book, Dr. Mosley suggested the 5:2 intermittent fasting plan, wherein you only have to fast for two days a week by cutting food intake to one-fourth of your normal daily calories (around 500 for women and 600 for men). For the rest of the week, you can forget about the calorie restriction and eat as you please, as long as it’s still healthy wholesome foods.
- Alternate-day Fasting
Conceptualized by Dr. Krista Varady, author of The Every-Other-Day Diet: The Diet That Lets You Eat All You Want (Half the Time) and Keep the Weight Off, this fasting scheme is quite easy to understand. Basically, you fast every other day, eating 500-calorie meals on fasting days and going back to your regular eating pattern on non-fasting days. As a result, the fasting hours are longer (around 32 to 36 hours).
To know more how your body’s longevity can come into play when you practice intermittent fasting, read this article: "How Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Live Healthier, Longer."
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