9 health benefits of intermittent fasting
Through intermittent fasting and controlling the intake of calories, the human body can increase the amount and function of stem cells, which are vital to delay our aging process and reduce inflammation.
“Fasting” means not eating or drinking anything that contains calories for a period of time. During intermittent fasting, one can drink water, black coffee, or other calorie-free drinks.
Recently, the New England Journal of Medicine released a collaborative review titled “Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease.” The article comprehensively concluded the research results of intermittent fasting.
Three kinds of intermittent fasting were studied, including Alternate-Day Fasting (ADF), OMAD (one meal a day). And 5:2 diet, having five-day regular meals and eating fewer than 500 calories for two days
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
Eating less can help our body produce fewer harmful metabolites, including free radicals. More importantly, it can improve the reactivity of cells and organs, promote the regulation of blood sugar and pressure resistance, and simultaneously suppress inflammatory responses.
A free radical is a type of unstable molecule that is made during normal cell metabolism (chemical changes that take place in a cell). Free radicals can build up in cells and cause damage to other molecules, such as DNA, lipids, and proteins. This damage may increase the risk of cancer and other diseases.
The lifestyle of having three meals a day, occasional snacks in between, and mostly sitting, is harmful to our body. More exercise and taking in sufficient or limited calories is beneficial to health. Intermittent fasting protects and heals our bodies.
2. Weight loss.
Normally the body offers energy through glucose transformed from the consumption of carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables. In overeating, the liver will transform excess glucose into fat and store it up. Overeating, inadequate exercise, and too much sitting, causes fat stored to be stored in our bodies. Fasting for more than 16 hours causes the body to consume stored glycogen first, then burn fat. The dissolution of fat will produce ketone bodies which offer energy to our brain and play the important role of transmitting signals between organs and participating in the function of cells and organs.
3. Igniting autophagy
During fasting, a series of chemical reactions occur in the body, including promoting antioxidant mechanisms, recovering the material of inheritance DNA, increasing protein quality, increasing ATP synthase in the mitochondria, self-renewal function of cells, as well as reducing inflammation. The self-renewal function of cells is done by a mechanism called autophagy. It is very important to our body’s recovery.
4. Improving chronic disease
Intermittent fasting not only assists weight loss, but can also increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin to reduce blood lipids, blood sugar, and blood pressure thus improving chronic inflammatory diseases.
Researchers divided 100 obese women into two groups—one group reduced 25 percent consumption of food, and the other group underwent the 5:2 diet. After six months, both groups lost similar weight, but the 5:2 diet group had a much higher sensitivity to insulin and obvious loss of belly fat.
5. Increased exercise endurance and performance
Researchers compared the physical activity level of mice undergoing ADF and having regular meals. The ADF mice had far better running endurance than the regularly fed mice and showed better balance and coordination ability. In addition, young males, who fasted for 16 hours, lost fat without muscle loss.
6. Cancer prevention
Most animal research found that restriction of calorie intake and ADF can reduce the risk of tumors, inhibit tumor growth, and increase sensitivity of tumors to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The curative effect is shown to be noticeably magnified.
7. Decreasing the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
Through animal research, it was found that both occurrence and progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s can be postponed through ADF. Intermittent fasting brings many benefits to our brain, including promoting neuronal remodeling to counteract nutritional stress, strengthening the function of brain mitochondrion, stimulating cell renewal and the generation of nerve protection factors, antioxidant function, and recovering inheritance genes.
8. Reducing immune disease
Recent research found that if patients of multiple sclerosis (MS) persist in intermittent fasting, the disease symptoms improved within two months. This might have to do with the function of reducing inflammation.
Therefore, it can also benefit rheumatoid arthritis and other immune diseases. MS is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. In MS, the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body.
9. Reduction of damage caused by concussion
This may come as a surprise—repairing damage such as memory loss, lack of concentration, increased temper tantrums, and hypersomnia due to concussion is an unexpected boon for people with brain injuries.
One significant benefit of intermittent fasting is that it can directly activate the anti-aging tunnel in our body and thus reduce the aging process.
Source: The Epoch Times