The Science Behind It
Find out more behind the science of why fasting works to reset your body's natural processes and rhythms.
Fasting can mean anything from total abstinence from food and beverages to restricting specific foods or the hours of food intake. Many religions have traditions of fasting, with various restrictions which you can check out on Wikipedia. The reason for religious fasting is not to improve health, but for other purposes like strengthening discipline and demonstrating devotion.
There are many health claims for different fasting regimens:
Daily calorie restriction has been demonstrated to prolong lifespans due to recalibrating cellular organelles and increasing the antiaging human growth hormones.
There is some evidence that intermittent fasting can forestall and even reverse cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders in mice. Clinical trials are now underway with cancer patients to test the success scientists had with mice.
In humans, there is evidence that it helps reduce obesity, hypertension, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Studies have proven the physiologic and metabolic responses to fasting that they lead to an improvement in health.
Intermittent fasting has potential benefits for anti-aging, cancer, cognitive function, inflammation, hypertension, and the metabolic syndrome with hundreds of studies currently happening in various health vectors.
Variations of Fasting:
Calorie restriction (CR) of 20-40% with three meals a day
5:2 or Intermittent energy restriction (IER), e.g., reduce to 500 calories a day on two days a week, the other five days you eat healthy restricting sugar consumption.
Alternate day fasting (ADF – food only every other day)
Time-restricted feeding (TRF) (food intake is limited to a 4-6 hour window)
We can learn so much just by observing the animal kingdom. The eating patterns of mammals typically involve intermittent food intake, not three meals a day. Our modern lifestyle and wide availability of high-calorie foods and sedentary habits make us susceptible to obesity and various diseases.
Breakfast Is Not a Natural Rhythm To Our Bodies
Studies have also uncovered what our natural eating pattern should be by studying the ill effects of shift work. Shift workers exposed to artificial lighting and odd hours disrupt their circadian rhythms contributing to illnesses. There is a circadian rhythm to hunger, with a trough in the morning and a peak in the evening. So maybe eating breakfast isn’t “natural” and isn’t as essential as we have been led to believe.
With the growth of the food industries, Americans have been lead to believe through genius marketing and design that we need to eat more than three meals a day with snacking allowed in between. It's now a matter of getting re-educated in what is the best timing of eating for our bodies, and the choices in the foods we consume.
Benefits of Fasting
Insulin levels: Blood levels of insulin drop significantly, which facilitates fat burning, and lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes (1). Insulin resistance is corrected.
Human growth hormone: HGH works to protect lean muscle and metabolic balance, a response triggered and accelerated by fasting. During the 24-hour fasting periods, HGH increased an average of 1,300 percent in women, and nearly 2,000 percent in men. (2)
Cellular repair: The body induces important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste material from cells, and destroying dysfunctional cells called autophagy (3).
Gene expression: There are beneficial changes in the neurology in the brain stimulating several genes and molecules related to longevity and protection against diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s, and dementia (4, 5).
Cardiac Health: Fasting drastically reduces LDL- C, “bad cholesterol” and triglycerides, and greatly increases HDL-C, “the good cholesterol” (6)
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