With the rise in interest towards gyms, fitness and weight loss, in the first month of this new year, we have also seen a spike in interest towards intermittent fasting. So we wanted to bring to you 10 Research based intermittent fasting benefits in 2016 so that you actually get to know what Intermittent fasting means to your body.
1. Intermittent fasting benefits on cellular and overall body functionality
Alright, so this is nothing very new. Intermittent fasting has had its predecessors right from the advent of human beings(the Cave Man). It was very common amongst hunters, gatherers that they might go 3 days without food. It’s same with the animals because they don’t have food available every day.
Imagine you are in such situation or in such times, what would happen to your body when you fast like this?
Well, we can see this in Cells if you put them in culture[Artificial environment] and starve them for 3 days.
The cells just shrink in size.
All of these cells they cannibalize themselves and they shrink in size but they are still fully functional so everything a larger cell can do, a smaller cell can do that too and that is how we maintain full functionality.
Our bodies after a fast are designed to cannibalize ourself, shrink our bodies, but we retain full functionality so we can still go out and hunt, fight or whatever we need to do.
This is very basic to biology.
It’s also very crucial for our health to go through this fasting and feeding cycle because when we are fasting we are cannibalizing that’s actually a very smart process.
What happens is our body looks around for everything inside us that we don’t need like bacteria, viruses, damaged mitochondria & other damaged things.
We don’t cannibalize the healthy tissue we cannibalize the unhealthy tissue.
Thus it leads to this internal and very natural cleaning process of unhealthy and unwanted materials present in our bodies, and when you feed your body the next time it can rebuild all that tissue and cells that shrunk earlier.
2. Intermittent fasting benefits on losing weight and belly fat
That extra flab you think you have around you its just unused fat or energy sitting around.
This is what happens every time you eat.
Your digestive system converts your food into energy which goes to your liver and is stored there in the form of glycogen. This is the first go-to source of energy for your body in any case of energy deficiency. It takes about 10-12 hrs before you deplete the glycogen stores in your liver. So if you eat 3 meals a day you never deplete glycogen stores in your liver although if you exercise you can.
One thing that when you fast and does not happen when you eat 3 meals a day is your energy metabolism shifts so that you start burning fats.
Only once you’ve burnt the glycogen reserves in your liver you start burning fats and you produce what is called ketone bodies. It turns out ketone bodies are very good for your brain too.
Intermittent fasting helps you lose those extra belly pounds by letting you switch on the fat burning mode present in your body by default.
Simple steps to turn this fat burning mode on:
- Step 1: Have your dinner 2-3 hrs before you sleep
- Step 2: Have a good 7-8 hrs of sleep
- Step 3: Slowly and gradually delay your time of breakfast
what these 3 simple steps do is create a fasting window for your body by tapping into the 8 hrs sleeping(no food) time that already exists.
3. Intermittent fasting benefits for people with Diabetes
Diabetes is one of those ailments that just never got the tag of the epidemic that it is.
The majority of the health community believes that type 2 diabetes is chronic and progressive, but according to Jason Fung both bariatrics and fasting proves them wrong.
The fact that fasting can help in curing diabetes has been known for the last 100 years approximately.
According to Dr. Elliot Joslin- one of the most famous diabetologists in the history of the world, The fact that fasting can help in curing diabetes has been known for the last 100 years approximately.
He wrote about this in Canadian Medical Association Journal in 1916. Not only this he thought it was so obvious that this fact didn’t even need any researching.
and just to give you a context of the magnanimity of this guy Harvard University has a Joslin Center for Diabetes, and yes you guessed it right it’s after this guys name.
On a general outlook Type 2 diabetes can be cured and reversed with, in technical language Ketosis (discussed in point 2), in nontechnical language Intermittent fasting which is a combination of carb negative diet and exercise in this case.
Most of the prescribed drugs for Diabetes can get your HbA1c down to 6.5% at best (which is well managed but still diabetic). Whereas intermittent fasting with a carb negative diet can it down to 5% which is nondiabetic.
4. Intermittent Fasting benefits on reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the body
What exactly is oxidative stress?
In the simplest language, the imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to neutralize their harmful effects with antioxidants is called Oxidative stress.
Now, what the hell are Free radicals?
A free radical is a highly reactive molecule containing oxygen. It’s reactive because it has one or more unpaired electrons.
Why are they bad?
Well technically not all reactive oxygen molecules are bad, some are used to fight pathogens and microbes.
But the free radicals can be nasty.
They have the ability to chemically interact with cell components like DNA, lipids, and proteins.
They steal one of their electrons to stabilize themselves and force them to steal from others causing a free radical chain reaction.
Coming back to the topic.
There is evidence not only from the animals but from the humans that fasting helps the body.
It will reduce inflammation & It will reduce oxidative stress in organ system throughout the body.
5. Intermittent Fasting benefits for heart-related issues
Egyptian pyramid inscription, 3800 BC- “Humans live on one-quarter of what they eat; on the three-quarters lives their doctor ” about 6000 yrs ago
With a sharp increase in cardiovascular diseases over the past decade, looking at this situation with a new perspective is a dire need of the day.
Let Intermittent Fasting Light the path.
Lots of research on animals show lower total cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations, a lower heart rate, improved cardiac response to myocardial infarction, and lower blood pressure using intermittent fasting.
If you did not understand half the terms given above don’t worry, this is all you need to know. Test on animals shows Intermittent fasting is good for their health.
The limited data on humans shows
- Higher HDL-cholesterol concentrations
- Lower triacylglycerol concentrations
- Decreased LDL-cholesterol and TAG concentrations
- Peak LDL particle size increased
- Proportion of small LDL particles decreased
- Proportion of large LDL particles increased
All these pieces of evidence suggest that Intermittent fasting can be used to improve your cardiac conditions
6. Intermittent Fasting Benefits for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Arthritis: the disease of the bones and old age. Causing you or your loved ones pain in their joints, especially in the winter season.
Well, we have some good news for you here too.
According to a study, some healthy patients of rheumatoid arthritis had shown significant improvement by practicing prolonged fasting for 7-10 days.
The logic behind this can be the anti-inflammatory effect(talked in point no. 4) that Intermittent fasting brings along with all the benefits it comes with.
When reviewing these test subjects many showed reduced pain, stiffness and overall discomfort, similar to the effects of consumption of analgesics, several clinical variables, and serum concentration of orosomucoid.
7. Intermittent Fasting Benefits for Cancer and its prevention.
Alright time to enter the big league. The bad boy of all diseases. Cancer: simply put, is the overgrowth or uncontrolled growth of cells in a particular part of the body.
Chemotherapy is the most prominent cure for this disease, but with it brings lots of side effects and other discomforts to the patients.
According to a 2009 case study, Ten cancer patients underwent fasting prior to and after chemotherapy treatment. With fasting times ranging from 48-140 hrs prior to and 5-56 hrs after all were successful in reducing the side effects of chemotherapy.
Round 1: A woman of 51 yrs of age suffering from breast cancer went through chemotherapy in a fasted state of 140 hrs. She felt well enough to go to work and continue with her daily activities.
Round 2: In this case, she underwent 2 chemotherapies but with her regular diet and suffered from really pronounced side effects
Round 3: This time she fasted again and the effects were minimized again
8. Intermittent Fasting benefits to your Brain
Intermittent Fasting does good things to the brain, according to studies, in the animals we have seen some neurochemical changes happening in the brain which makes us say this.
Everyone knows in certain religion people will fast periodically. Down through history many famous people with good brains have fasted regularly
Plato- I fast for greater physical and mental efficiency”
Why does Intermittent Fasting bolster brain power?
During development of your brain but also during adulthood neurons are developed from stem cells.
They grow out their axons and dendrites, they form connections with each other(synapses) and communicate with each other. During aging many people’s brain ages successfully, the stay cognitively intact whereas unfortunately others develop a disease.
Take home bit: Fasting is a challenge to your brain and your brain responds to that challenge of not having food by activating adaptive stress response pathways that help your brain cope with stress and risk resist disease.
Does this make sense in evolutionary terms?
If your hungry and haven’t found food you better figure out how to find food. You don’t want your brain to shut down if you’re hungry in fact that is what we find in the animals neural circuits are more active.
The neurochemical changes happening in the brain during intermittent fasting are very similar to exercise.
A runner in a cross country race feels this extreme challenge in his brain, that why even am I running, but after it is over they feel great and they feel relaxed.
Why does this happen?
Exercise and intermittent fasting both produce proteins in the brain called “neurotrophic factors” which promote the growth of neurons, promote the connection of neurons and strengthens the synapses.
9. Intermittent Fasting Benefits for Alzheimer
Studies on Effects of Intermittent Fasting on the brain in the context of age-related neurodegenerative disorders found that we could slow down the abnormal accumulation of amyloid or degeneration of dopamine neurons in Alzheimers and Parkinsons by reducing energy intake, which we also term as Intermittent Fasting.
As discussed earlier Intermittent Fasting imposes stress on the brain(in a good way) that puts in in a shocked state. In this state to cope up with this shock, the brain has to create new neurons which make the brain more resistant towards protein plaques which cause diseases like Alzheimer and Parkinson.
In these conditions of hunger induced stress by fasting the brain produces neurotrophic factor which coaxes the brain stem cells to convert into neurons and trigger chemicals promoting neural health.
10. Intermittent Fasting Benefits for extended lifespan
Well this has been known for a long time one way to extend the lifespan of lab animals is to reduce their energy intake and in rats and mice one can increase their lifespan by 30-40%
When it comes to humans there are no particular studies that we could find that pointed out to the conclusion of this statement.
But come on use your common sense, you have just read 9 amazing research-backed health benefits of intermittent fasting so far. If it can help you in achieving even in some of the above-mentioned benefits, well half your journey towards this goal of yours is taken care of.
Which was the most relevant Intermittent fasting benefit for you? Which one do you think we missed? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.