Fast­ing your way to bet­ter health

Weekly Trust - - Front Page - Judd-Leonard Okafor

Fast­ing an en­tire Ra­madan or Lent is re­li­gious. In ad­di­tion to sharp­en­ing your spir­i­tual life, it turns out some amount of fast­ing also helps your health, re­search sug­gests.

It is called in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing, and it is be­com­ing pop­u­lar among peo­ple look­ing to shed ex­tra kilo­grammes without turn­ing skinny. It is ac­tu­ally a form of diet, and re­search ar­gue it may slow down age­ing and dis­ease.

So what’s in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing? In one type, you go without food for some pe­riod of the day—say 16 hours—then you eat what­ever you want the rest of the day.

In the sec­ond, you al­ter­nate the days you eat and the days you go without food—fast­ing one day and feast­ing the next.

This helps ex­plain how in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing works. Your body runs of glu­cose, and un­used glu­cose is stored as fat for later use. When you fast for long, glu­cose be­come un­avail­able. To get an­other fuel or en­ergy source, your body con­verts the stored body fat into fatty acids, which are ab­sorbed by the blood.

Fatty acids pro­duce ke­tones— the new body fuel. It is es­sen­tially “flip­ping the meta­bolic switch,” says Stephen An­ton, a re­searcher at the Univer­sity of Florida Col­lege of Medicine in Gainesville.

“This switch,” ex­plains An­ton, “can hap­pen after a cer­tain pe­riod of time fast­ing. It’s a gra­da­tion in which your me­tab­o­lism over time shifts to use higher and higher amounts of ke­tones for en­ergy.”

His team re­viewed stud­ies fo­cused on the switch mech­a­nism and ben­e­fits of in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing and pub­lished the re­sult of their re­view in the jour­nal Obe­sity.

The re­view sug­gest in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing is more health­ful than other di­et­ing strate­gies, since ke­tones put less stress on cells than the byprod­ucts of other di­et­ing styles, ac­cord­ing to a Med­i­cal News Today re­port on the re­search.

In all 10 clin­i­cal tri­als as­sess­ing the ef­fects of al­ter­nate-day fast­ing, the re­sults con­clu­sively pointed to this strat­egy’s ef­fec­tive­ness when it came to shed­ding ex­tra ki­los. And, 3 out of the 4 stud­ies fo­cused on the re­stricted tim­ing type of in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing had sim­i­lar re­sults.

“So in my mind, it’s not a ques­tion of whether it works for pro­duc­ing fat loss,” says An­ton. What’s more in­ter­est­ing and more im­por­tant is what kind of tis­sue is lost through in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing.

Other stud­ies re­viewed re­vealed that par­tic­i­pants did lose body fat, but did not lose any sig­nif­i­cant amount of lean tis­sue— which in­cludes which in­cludes organ tis­sue, mus­cu­lar tis­sue, and bone tis­sue.

Lean tis­sue al­lows your body to keep func­tion­ing.

The re­searchers say that it could help to pro­long life­span, im­prove func­tion­ing of meta­bolic pro­cesses, pro­tect cog­ni­tive func­tion, en­hance phys­i­cal per­for­mance, re­duce harm­ful in­stances of in­flam­ma­tion, and shield against car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases.

“An im­por­tant take­away is that we all have the abil­ity to switch our me­tab­o­lism from glu­cose to ke­tone uti­liza­tion. And that switch has the po­ten­tial to have pro­found health ben­e­fits for us, in ad­di­tion to the pos­i­tive changes in body com­po­si­tion,” said An­ton. But first get your doc­tor’s ad­vice be­fore fast­ing.

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