This article will delineate and discuss several health benefits associated with intermittent fasting.
Due to its purported health benefits, intermittent fasting (IF) has made a splash in the health and fitness communities and has been growing in popularity since 2019. But first, what is intermittent fasting? This dietary practice entails restricting your eating to specific windows of time each day. While there are various fasting schedules to choose from, the health benefits are largely the same regardless of your approach.
If you’re considering adopting a fasting diet, here are several advantages that are associated with practicing intermittent fasting.
1. Weight Loss
While IF focuses more on limiting one’s eating to certain hours rather than reducing caloric intake, it’s been shown to promote weight loss. A 2013 study published in Obesity demonstrated that “people who consumed a certain amount of calories eating a larger breakfast and smaller dinner lost two-and-a-half times as much weight in 12 weeks than people who ate the same exact calories but in reverse (with a smaller breakfast and larger dinner).” In other words, it’s not just about what we eat, but when we eat it. Research shows that consuming the bulk of one’s calories earlier in the day can significantly improve metabolism and digestion, two factors that play a key role in weight management.
2. Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin resistance is a condition in which your body becomes less responsive to insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels and an increased risk of diabetes. Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, potentially reducing the risk of diabetes. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that intermittent fasting improved insulin sensitivity and reduced insulin levels in individuals with prediabetes.
3. Reduced Inflammation
Inflammation is a natural process that helps your body fight infection and heal injuries. However, chronic inflammation can contribute to the development of numerous diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, potentially reducing the risk of these diseases.
A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry demonstrated that intermittent fasting reduced inflammation in mice by suppressing the activity of inflammatory cells.
4. Improved Heart Health
IF has been shown to improve heart health by reducing risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides. By reducing these risk factors, intermittent fasting may help prevent heart disease. A review published in the journal Nutrition Reviews found that intermittent fasting reduced blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides in overweight and obese individuals.
5. Improved Brain Function
IF may improve brain function and protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Furthermore, by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, IF may help preserve cognitive function. For instance, a study published in the journal Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience found that IF improved cognitive function in mice with Alzheimer's disease.
6. Reduced Cancer Risk
IF may reduce the risk of cancer by reducing insulin levels and inflammation in the body. By reducing these risk factors, IF may help prevent the development and growth of cancer cells. For example, a study published in the journal Cancer Research found that intermittent fasting reduced the growth of tumors in mice with breast cancer.
7. Increased Longevity
IF may increase lifespan by improving cellular function and reducing the risk of age-related diseases. By promoting cellular repair and regeneration, intermittent fasting may help delay the aging process. A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that intermittent fasting increased the lifespan of mice.
8. Improved Gut Health
Intermittent fasting may improve gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and reducing inflammation in the gut. By improving gut health, intermittent fasting may help prevent digestive disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome. For instance, a study published in the journal Nutrients found that intermittent fasting increased the abundance of beneficial gut bacteria and reduced inflammation in the gut of mice.
In conclusion, intermittent fasting has numerous potential health benefits, including weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, improved heart health, improved brain function, reduced cancer risk, increased longevity, and improved gut health. If you’re considering intermittent fasting, speak with a healthcare professional to ensure it is safe for you to practice.
Edited by: Whitney Edna Ibe
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