Eating Within a Short Window Daily Might Make You Live Longer
There are numerous things people do these days to stay in shape and enjoy great health. Intermittent fasting is one that appears to be getting more attention, and with good reason too.
de Cabo, Ph.D., and Mattson, Ph.D., reported in a recent review in The New England Journal of Medicine that there is notable evidence that intermittent fasting can promote good health outcomes. “It could be a part of a healthy lifestyle,” according to Mattson, a professor of neuroscience.
The intention of the new review article was to shed more light on the science behind the practice and therefore enumerate its clinical applications.
Having studied fasting for two decades, Mattson is quite knowledgeable about the health benefits people can enjoy. In addition, he has been practicing intermittent fasting for about 20 years
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Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Research, both in animals and humans, has demonstrated cellular health benefits derived from alternating between periods of eating and fasting. However, scientists are yet to fully understand the mechanisms responsible for this.
The belief is that this has a connection to what is known as metabolic switching. This refers to a means of survival when there is a lack of access to food. When this switch occurs, cells turn to body fat for energy generation due to the shortage of sugar. This is slower compared to the usual metabolic process.
de Cabo and Mattson identified two main types of intermittent fasting in their analysis; time-restricted feeding and 5:2 fasting. The former refers to limiting eating to a 6-8 hour window on an average day. As for 5:2 intermittent fasting, 5 days a week are normal eating days and 2 days involve limiting oneself to one meal.
According to the researchers, studies have shown that the metabolic switch that occurs from fasting helps to regulate blood sugar. It is also useful for fighting inflammation and protecting against harmful stress.
According to the review article, four studies in animals and humans showed that intermittent fasting reduces blood pressure, blood lipids, and resting heart rates. Also, a recent University of Toronto trial showed that this practice could potentially be beneficial to brain health in non-obese adults.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, de Cabo and Mattson noted that there is increasing evidence that intermittent fasting can help reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes. In a UK study, overweight women who practiced the 5:2 fasting technique saw similar weight loss effects as women on calorie restriction. They also experienced a greater reduction in belly fat and increased insulin sensitivity, compared to those in the other group.
Practicing Intermittent Fasting
Sadly, most individuals do not get to enjoy the supposed benefits that come with this practice because they eat three full meals in a day, possibly with snacks in-between.
Fasting is a difficult thing for many people to do, the researchers observed. Many do not attempt it and those who do are unable to stick to it.
The researchers said patience and guidance can make it easier for people to try and adhere to fasting regimens.
“Patients should be advised that feeling hungry and irritable is common initially and usually passes after two weeks to a month as the body and brain become accustomed to the habit,” Mattson said.
Therefore, he advised against “going cold turkey” when starting out. Patients should be advised to take a gradual approach to it. furthermore, they should aim to increase the frequency and duration slowly over several months.