The ben­e­fits of in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing

NZ Life & Leisure - - Well & Good -

Short-term fast­ing has been found to in­crease neu­ral au­tophagy, which is how cells re­gen­er­ate, re­pair them­selves and re­cy­cle waste. This equals a boost in me­mory, and brain and learn­ing func­tions. Stud­ies on ro­dents have shown that dur­ing the fast­ing pe­riod, cells are put un­der mi­nor stress to which they re­act by en­hanc­ing their abil­ity to cope with stress. This could help re­sis­tance to dis­eases such as Parkin­son’s, Alzheimer’s, heart dis­ease, can­cer, asthma, epilep­tic seizures, di­a­betes and strokes. The Univer­sity of Illi­nois stud­ied the ef­fects of al­ter­nate- day fast­ing on hun­dreds of obese adults. An 8-10 week trial found par­tic­i­pants lost an av­er­age of 5.8kg and had marked re­duc­tions in choles­terol, blood pres­sure and in­sulin, the fat-stor­age hor­mone.

While the re­duc­tion in over­all calo­ries from in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing will re­sult in some weight loss, there is also a sub­stan­tial ef­fect on fat loss. This is due to higher lev­els of hu­man growth hor­mone but also the sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in in­sulin (in­sulin reg­u­lates your blood sug­ars) and the cor­re­spond­ing in­crease in nor­ep­i­neph­rine – the main neu­ro­trans­mit­ter pro­duced by the sym­pa­thetic ner­vous sys­tem. Th­ese hor­mones ini­ti­ate the break­down of stored body fat to use as an en­ergy source. This in­creases your me­tab­o­lism; stud­ies show this varies from 3.6 per cent at the low end, to 14 per cent at the higher end.

In­ter­mit­tent fast­ing prac­ti­tion­ers re­ported in­creased en­ergy, bet­ter di­ges­tion and sleep, and im­prove­ments to mood and motivation.

If th­ese ar­gu­ments fail to tempt you into fast­ing, take a mo­ment to weigh up the ben­e­fits of main­tain­ing ideal body weight. The scales tip so heav­ily in favour of be­ing on the lighter side; stay­ing slim­mer is one of the most im­por­tant things you can do for your health.

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