Intermittent fasting is steadily rising as a health and fitness trend around the world. Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating cycle that involves periodic intervals of eating and fasting. Some popular IF methods include the 16 to 8 technique, the 5 to 2 technique, and the eat-stop-eat technique, in which a person eats nothing for a whole 24 hours once or twice a week. Fasting is believed to have many medical and nutritional benefits, and many studies are backing it up with research.
Some of the key benefits of intermittent fasting backed by science include the following:
The majority of people doing intermittent fasting do it to shed extra weight from their body. Fasting means taking less food, hence fewer calories. A 2014 study concluded that IF could facilitate weight loss by 3 to 8% in 3 to 24 weeks. Subjects of the research also had significant reductions in the belly fat.
Previous trials on weight loss compared IF and a calorie restriction diet over a period of one year. Both methods proved effective as they all turned out positive.
Reduced Insulin Resistance
Reducing insulin resistance means improved insulin sensitivity. High insulin resistance makes the body vulnerable to contracting type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting has shown some promising results in reducing insulin levels, leading to low blood sugar levels.
There’s still research going on, but a previous study showed that men responded better to blood sugar control better than women, where the situation worsened. Nonetheless, don’t rely solely on the research; you must consult your doctor for more insights before fasting.
Induced Cellular Repair
Intermittent fasting may help in autophagy, the cleaning of damaged cells to give room for new healthy cells. This is a waste removal process in the body that can help in protecting the body against some infections. Intermittent fasting may help in breaking down the cells to remove waste and dysfunctional proteins in the cells.
Find out the more on how intermittent fasting helps in autophagy.
In 2019, Mount Sinai researchers found out that intermittent fasting reduces pro-inflammatory monocytes in the blood. These cells associated with chronic inflammatory become inactive during fasting sessions, reducing the risk of inflammations.
Hence, intermittent fasting can also help reduce oxidative stress by maintaining a balance between antioxidants and free radicals in our bodies.
Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Diseases like stroke, coronary artery disease are expected to be lowered by IF. IF, as said earlier, helps in lowering blood pressure, which causes heart disease and stroke. Studies in animals are promising, but IF can also be beneficial for humans as it boosts the cardiovascular and metabolic systems.
Better Brain Functioning
A study on mice found that intermittent fasting improves brain function because of the increased growth of nerve cells. Further studies reveal that IF may help in boosting the brain function by protection against memory loss due to aging. Therefore, intermittent fasting may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease and improve brain structure. Studies are being performed to validate if it’s applicable on humans.
A study from John Hopkins linked intermittent fasting to increased lifespans. Evidence from human studies supports that improved brain health, blood sugar regulation, support of cellular health, and minimizing risks like blood pressure can help add some time to our lives.
Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that kills some parts of the brain. They are hard to cure, so it’s better to prevent them. Research shows IF has the capability to delay the onset of the disease or reduce the severity of it. Improvement of cognitive functions and brain structures in mice is a good sign that it may help humans as well.
Protection Against Cancer
Intermittent fasting may help in increasing the tolerability of chemotherapy in humans by reducing side effects. A 2017 study on impacts of fasting in cancer identified the suppression of tumors and chemoprotective results. This research still needs some clinical practicality, but it’s promising.
LDL “bad” cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease and stroke; this is according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. IF is observed educe fats in the blood that cause the diseases. Also, IF is known to help by lowering cholesterol and LDL cholesterol with some additional exercises.
Some of these findings are from animals. Results are promising, but more research is still needed to discover benefits in humans. Find out more information on IF in this intermittent fasting guide.