Johns Hopkins: Intermittent Fasting Could Help You Live Longer

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.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting

Mark Mattson, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins Medicine 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 the professor of neuroscience.

The intention of the new review article was to shed more light on the science behind the practice. Therefore enumerate its clinical applications and make it easier for physicians to advise patients who might be considering intermittent fasting.

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 metabolic process is slower compared to the usual.

Mattson identified two main types of intermittent fasting in his analysis; time-restricted feeding and 5:2 fasting. The former refers to limiting eating to a 6-8 hour window in 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 neuroscience professor, 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, 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, Mattson observed. Many do not attempt it and those who do are unable to stick to it.

The neuroscientist 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.

References

https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMra1905136

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