Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RNIntermittent fasting has been practiced for centuries but is now making a pretty big comeback. Why? Because research is starting to show its innumerable benefits.
One of the longest living men in the world, Walter Breuning, actually practiced intermittent fasting. In fact, he attributed his good health to it.
He passed away in 2011 at age 114, but his life can certainly be an example for all of us today.
If you've ever thought about fasting, you may want to seriously give it a chance. After all, it may actually improve your health.
How to Practice Intermittent FastingThere’s no exact way to do it, but basically intermittent fasting involves eating normally during most of the week and picking a few days to fast (usually 2). Some people eat a quarter of their usual daily calories while others skip one meal during the day. Water and tea can substitute a meal.
To maximize the fasting effect, people will minimize their carbohydrate intake during the fast. This helps the body burn glucose so that once reserves run out, it could ultimately burn fat.
The Many Health Benefits of Intermittent FastingIntermittent fasting has been show to prevent disease and extend life span.1 Here is a list of some of the health benefits seen in research studies:
- Enhancing cognitive function in mice2
- Lowering glucose and insulin levels3
- Lowering oxidative stress3 (a cause of aging and disease)
- Decreasing inflammation3
- Reducing body fat3
- Reducing blood pressure4
- Preserving nerve function in rats5
- Lowering LDL cholesterol6
- Promoting weight loss7
- Protecting heart function7
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?When you drastically limit your calories (called caloric restriction), it causes a change in your gene expression. “Good genes” that slow down the aging process are turned on. Studies show intermittent fasting can trigger similar physiological effects as caloric restriction.8
Among the good genes are the SIRTUINs, which regulate life span and cell death. All animals possess these genes which turn on during times of famine.
Caloric restriction has been shown to extend the lives of several species including yeast, flies, worms, dogs, and monkeys.9-11 It has also been shown to visibly slow the signs of aging.12
Okinawa, an island off the coast of Japan, has some of the longest living people in the world. Worldwide, they have the largest concentration of centenarians.
The Okinawans practice a calorically restricted diet, consuming a low-calorie diet, of around 1,200 calories a day, and eating only until they are 80% full.13, 14
Nutrients that Activate the SIRTUIN GenesCan’t fast? Well, you’re in luck. There are specific nutrients that can activate the SIRTUIN genes, including quercetin and curcumin.15
But one of the most popular supplements that can help is resveratrol.16 This antioxidant is found in red wine and is among the most powerful activators of the SIRTUINs.
Pretty amazing, isn't it?
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- Br. J. of Diabetes and Vascular Disease. 2013. Mar 11; 13(2):68-72.
- Exp Gerontol. 2013 Apr 29. pii: S0531-5565(13)00118-6.
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- J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2003;58(3):212-219.
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- Indian J Community Med. 2009 October; 34(4): 273–275.
- The towns where people live the longest. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7250675.stm
- Arch Biochem Biophys. 2010 Sep 1;501(1):79-90.
- Curr Neurovasc Res. 2009 Feb;6(1):70-81.
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