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10 Facts On The Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting

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  • 10 Facts On The Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
  • Intermittent Fasting Is Becoming An Increasingly Popular, But Does It Improve You Health?


What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Fasting is defined as abstaining from all or some kinds of food or drink for long periods of time.

So whats the difference with fasting and intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting is more concerned about the timings of your daily meals.

With intermittent fasting you typically have a daily eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.

Whether its the 16/8 or 5:2 methods a number of studies have shown that there are benefits to restricting the times at which you eat.

Lets take a look at some of them.

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1Changes The Role Of Hormones, Cells And Genes In Your Body

When you abstain from food for a number of hours your body starts to make adjustments in order to cope with the lack of intake.

Your body will start to change the hormone levels in order to make any stored body fat more accessible.

Insulin levels in your body drop significantly which is associated with burning fat as energy.

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Human growth hormone levels (HGH) also increase during this time and is linked with fat burning and muscle gain.

In addition to these hormonal changes, now that the body doesn't have to spend time on digesting food it initiates a cellular repair processes such as removing waste from cells.

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2Helps To Lose Weight And Visceral Fat

Those who try intermittent fasting typically start because they want to lose weight.

By limiting the times at which you can eat during the day, generally speaking you will be eating less calories per day and therefore losing weight.

But it's not just the fewer calories from a intermittent fasting protocol that helps with weight loss.

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The lower levels of insulin throughout your body allows your body to tap into those fat stores more easily so you will be burning fat like never before.

Studies have shown that by tapping into body fat as fuel via short term fasting, your metabolic rate will actually increase which in turn helps you burn more calories.

These benefits are potentially life changing.

A study carried out of 6-24 weeks showed that participants who were intermittent fasting lost between 4-7% of their waist circumference which is a lot of visceral fat.

That's alot!

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3Helps Reduce Insulin Resistance And Lowers Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is becoming more and more prevalent in society in recent times and in the US an incredible 32.2% of the population may have it.

The main feature of this condition is the high blood sugar levels present in the body.

One of the reasons for this is the high levels of insulin resistance, which is where your cells stop responding to the amounts of insulin in your body.

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Therefore anything that reduces insulin resistances should help protect against type 2 diabetes.

This is what intermittent fasting has been shown to do and do it well.

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can reduce blood sugar levels by 3-6% over 8-12 weeks in people with prediabetes.

There may be differences between the sexes as one study exclusively in women showed that blood sugar management deteriorated after a 22 day long intermittent fasting protocol.

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4Helps Reduce Inflammation And Slows Down The Aging Process

Oxidative stress involves the process of unstable molecules present in the body disrupting and damaging other important molecules such as protein and DNA.

This is obviously a bad thing and detrimental to your health as it is a step towards aging and many chronic diseases.

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A number of studies have shown that intermittent fasting may enhance the body's resistance to oxidative stress.

It has also been shown that intermittent fasting can also help reduce inflammation which is a significant driver in the development of common diseases.

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5May Be Beneficial For Heart Health

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world.

So if there is anything that can potentially improve your heart health you should be taking note.

There are a number of health markers that are associated with your overall heart health which intermittent fasting has been shown to improve.

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These health markers include, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, blood triglycerides, total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and inflammatory markers.

One point to note that these markers were improved in studies done on animals.

Whilst these are still encouraging and positive results more research needs to be done before recommendations can be made for this reason.

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6Induces Various Cellular Repair Process

Autophagy is the process where the body starts to clean up any cellular waste.

This complex process involves the cells breaking down and metabolizing broken and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside over time.

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It is believed that this self cleaning process the body undergoes may provide protection against a number of diseases including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Intermittent fasting triggers this process and is thought to be one of its major benefits.

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7May Help Prevent Cancer

Cancer is caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body.

Studies have been carried out that have shown encouraging signs that intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer or reduce the effects of it.

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Whilst a majority of these studies have been carried out on animals there is still evidence that fasting or diets that mimic fasting could have the same impact in humans.

However, the scientific community remain cautious and agree that more research needs to be carried out.

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8Beneficial For Your Brain

Not only may intermittent fasting be beneficial to your heart but it can also be good for your brain.

Some of the most important health markers for good brain health are improved with intermittent fasting.

These markers include a reduction in in oxidative stress (less free radicals), inflammation, blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.

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Studies in mice and rats have demonstrated that intermittent fasting may increase the growth of new nerve cells, which should also have benefits for cognitive function.

Fasting and fasting mimicking diets have also show to increase levels of the brain hormone called brain-derived neurotrohpic factor (BDNF).

A deficiency in this hormone has been linked to depression and other mental related issues.

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9May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the world's most common neurodegenerative disease.

It is a disease that causes the brain to shrink in size (atrophy) and for brain cells to die. This results in the decline of cognitive function including thinking and the ability to function independently.

Unfortunately there is no cure to this disease which is why prevention plays a huge role.

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There have been encouraging studies in rats and mice that show that intermittent fasting may delay the onset of Alzheimer's or even reduce its severity.

The reports suggest that daily short term fasts that are prescribed in intermittent fasting protocols were able to significantly improve Alzheimer symptoms in 9 out of 10 people.

The scientific literature is still in its early stages and whilst more research needs to be done the early signs are encouraging.

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10May Extend Your Lifespan And Live Longer

Whilst we have shown some of the potential benefits from intermittent fasting, undoubtedly one of the most profound impacts is that it could extend your lifespan and help you to live longer.

Studies have demonstrated that rodents on an intermittent fasting protocol extending their lifespan in the same way that a calorie restricted diet also does.

The results in these rats were quite dramatic with those which fasted every other day living 83% longer than their non fasting counterparts.

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Not only did fasting extend the expected lifespan of the mice but it also reduced the onset of diseases and conditions associated with old age including fatty live disease and hepatocellular carcinoma.

Although this is not to say the same effect would happen in humans it is encouraging to see these results.

Given the improvement in the health markers previously mentioned it would make sense that it would help extend your life.

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Final Thoughts On Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has become one of the most popular weight loss methods is recent years.

Whilst most forms of calorie restricted diets will help you lose weight, very few will have the same impact on your body as intermittent fasting.

There are many ways to start intermittent fasting but as is the case with a number of diets always consult your doctor before starting and ease yourself gently into it whilst your body becomes adapted.

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone but for a number of people its impact has been profound.

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