fasting for health and longevity
We often focus on what to eat when it comes to good nutrition for health, longevity and weight loss. But what if when you eat (and when you don’t eat for that matter) was equally as important? The concept of fasting has become popular in the mainstream over the last few years and with good reason. Using fasting as a tool to lose weight has been successful for many who have tried it. But the benefits of fasting are much more far reaching. And it is a very natural human practice. Back when we were hunter-gatherers, humans hardly ever had consistent meal times. Feasting followed by fasting was the norm.
SOME BENEFITS OF FASTING
Fasting initiates a process known as autophagy. This helps to remove waste materials from the cells in the body while lowering inflammation and improving mitochondrial function. Overall organ function can also be improved by this cleanup.
Metabolic & Gut Function
Shown to help bring blood glucose, blood pressure and liver function into normal range; regular fasting when done under the right circumstances, can improve metabolic function. Giving the gut some regular down time from food, can also make for better digestion.
While it naturally controls calories and burns fat stores, fasting can even have a positive mental effect. Re-educating us about our relationship with food and hunger can empower us to have more control over cravings.
HOW TO START
There are many different ways to fast, but here are some of the more popular methods:
This approach calls for eating normally most days, and then abstaining from eating completely for 24 hours, 1-2 times per week.
The 5:2 Diet
This version allows you to eat without restrictions for 5 days a week, and then keeps calories to
500-600 on two days of the week.
Time Restricted Eating
Also known as 16/8 and the most popular method, the daily fast requires that you fast for 16 hours and restrict your eating time to 8 hours in a 24 hour period. For example fasting between 8pm at night after dinner until lunch at 12pm the next day. Different versions of this method call for fasting for 14 hours or even as little as 12 hours per day.
It may be difficult at first. Fasting is a skill that will improve with practice. You may experience some side effects like headaches, constipation, and cramps. Stay hydrated and give yourself time to get used to it. But stop if you are very uncomfortable or experience severe blood sugar crashes.
Stay busy. Going about your normal activities and keeping your mind busy so it is off of food is the easiest way to get through the fasting window. The busier the better when it comes to fasting.
Hunger. You will be hungry at times while fasting - sometimes more so than others. If you allow the hunger to come and go, you will find that it passes eventually. Again, drink plenty of water when fasting.
Don’t Fast. Fasting is not right for everyone. Anyone considering fasting should check with their doctor first. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not fast. Children under 18 should not fast. Anyone who has a history of disordered eating, is underweight, or under an extreme amount of stress should avoid fasting.