More Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

More Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Anti-aging is one of the more popular health benefits of intermittent fasting, which is why we dedicated an entire article to this topic recently. However, intermittent fasting has many more advantages to our health in addition to the positive spin it can have on aging and longevity, and they can be pretty impressive.

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Overall, intermittent fasting tends to make individuals eat fewer meals. Unless you compensate by eating more food during the remaining meals, you will likely lose weight. Here are some of the things that happen when you practice intermittent fasting.

When you stop eating for a half day or longer, your body begins to undergo various changes, including cell repair that involves removing waste material from cells and increases in growth hormone levels, which boosts fat burning and muscle gain. Your blood levels of insulin also decline significantly, which enhances fat burning, while an increase in norepinephrine (noradrenaline) increases the metabolism of fat and makes it easier to use it for energy.

In fact, short-term fasting (i.e., intermittent) can boost your metabolism rate by 3.6 to 14 percent. In addition, a 2014 scientific review reported that intermittent fasting can result in a weight loss of 3 to 8 percent over three to twenty-four weeks plus a 4 to 7 percent reduction in waist circumference.

Read about can intermittent fasting slow aging

Reduces type 2 diabetes risk. Insulin resistance is a major feature of high levels of sugar in the bloodstream and the development of type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting has been shown to significantly improve insulin resistance and as a result lower blood sugar levels. In a study appearing in Translational Research, the authors reported on how this approach resulted in a 20 to 31 percent reduction in fasting insulin levels and a 3 to 6 percent decline in fasting blood sugar levels. It should be noted, however, that at least one study found that blood sugar control got worse among women who followed a 22-day intermittent fasting program.

Improves heart health. Some of the more significant risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, elevated total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and high levels of triglycerides, blood sugar, and inflammatory markers. Intermittent fasting has been shown to help improve all of these risk factors, mostly in animals but also in some human studies.

Enhances brain function. Countless processes are involved in keeping the brain functioning, and intermittent fasting may help some of them. Animal studies indicate that intermittent fasting may boost the growth of new nerve cells, reduce inflammation, and lower blood glucose levels and insulin resistance. In addition, you may experience a rise in levels of the hormone brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Low levels of BDNF have been associated with depression.

Read more about BDNF promotes brain health

May help prevent cancer. Although the jury is still out on this benefit because human studies are needed, evidence from animal research indicates that intermittent fasting may enhance the effect of some chemotherapy drugs as well as help slow or prevent certain types of cancer.

Is intermittent fasting for you? Do you believe you might reap some benefits from this lifestyle? If intermittent fasting sounds like something you want to incorporate into your life, be sure to consult with a knowledgeable healthcare provider before you embark on this journey, especially if you have a chronic health condition and/or are taking any medications.

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Heilbronn LK et al. Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005 Jan; 81(1): 69-73
Ho KY et al. Fasting enhances growth hormone secretion and amplifies the complex rhythms of growth hormone secretion in man. Journal of Clinical Investigation 188 Apr; 81(4): 968-75
Lee J et al. Dietary restriction increases the number of newly generated neural cells, and induces BDNF expression, in the dentate gyrus of rats. Journal of Molecular Neuroscience 2000 Oct; 15(2): 99-108
Lee C et al. Fasting cycles retard growth of tumors and sensitize a range of cancer cell types to chemotherapy. Science Translational Medicine 2012 Mar 7; 4(124): 124ra27
Rocha NS et al. Effects of fasting and intermittent fasting on rat hepatocarcinogenesis induced by diethylnitrosamine. Teratogenesis, Carcinogenesis, and Mutagenesis 2002; 22(2): 129-38
Varady KA et al. Short-term modified alternate-day fasting: a novel dietary strategy for weight loss and cardioprotection in obese adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009 Nov; 90(5): 1138-43
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Andrea Donsky, B. COMM is an international TV Health Expert, Best Selling Author, Nutritionist Podcast Host, and Founder of NaturallySavvy.com—a recipient of Healthline’s Best Healthy Living Blogs for 2019. As a pioneer and visionary in the health food industry, Andrea’s passion is to inspire people to make healthier choices. Andrea has combined her background and expertise as both a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and an entrepreneur ("She Boss!") to educate the public on living a healthy lifestyle through the creation of her businesses, books, articles, podcasts, videos, talks, and TV and radio media appearances. Andrea founded Naturally Savvy Media Inc. in 2007 in order to share her passion for healthy living, and love for natural products and companies. Among her numerous publications, Andrea co-authored Unjunk your Junk Food published by Simon and Schuster, a book that journalist, author and mother Maria Shriver endorsed: “Unjunk Your Junk Food has certainly made me more aware about the food that my children eat and the effects it has on our body and mind."</P. Andrea also co-authored two e-books entitled Label Lessons: Your Guide To A Healthy Shopping Cart, and Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s Lunch Box.