1 of 12
UPSIDES OF INTERMITTENT FASTING: A growing body of evidence from short-term studies point to a number of benefits from intermittent fasting (IF). Across the different IF types, research on both humans and animals show number of upsides — ranging from improved metabolism, fat loss and protecting against neurodegenerative diseases.
Image Credit: Gulf News
2 of 12
TYPES: IF has different versions: there’s the Circadian Rhythm Fast, 16:8 Fast, 5:2 Fast, Alternate-Day Fast, Ramadan Fast. When done right, IF leads to real benefits. IF simply means reducing your food intake, eating only during a specific time. Experts now point to the possibility of “reversing” Type 2 diabetes — by following a whole food, low-carbohydrate diet and intermittent fasting, which will fix insulin resistance. Many have done it already. Following are the known IF benefits, as per human and animal studies:
Image Credit: Seyyed dela Llata / Gulf News
3 of 12
 CURBING CARBOHYDRATE TOXICITY: A condition known as “carbohydrate toxicity” is real. Excessive intake of carbohydrates — from digestible polysaccharides to refined sugars — is known to lead to noxious effects on human health, a phenomenon known as “carbotoxicity”. This condition refers to an excess of lipids ( fatty, waxy, or oily compounds) — or particular classes of lipids known to have toxic effects, thus the term “lipotoxicity”. “Hyperlipidemia” means your blood has too many lipids (or fats), such as cholesterol and triglycerides. Common warning signs of over-eating carbs include weight gain, lethargy, increased sugar cravings, skin breakouts, bloating and constipation, high cholesterol, more cavities and brain fog.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
4 of 12
 PROTECTS AGAINST NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASES: In a 2019 study published in the journal Nutrients, researchers showed that fasting induces an altered metabolic state that optimises neuron bioenergetics, plasticity, and resilience in a way that is seen to keep at bay a range of neurological disorders. While fasting prevents and treats the metabolic syndrome —a major risk factor for many neurological diseases — it also helps alleviate human cancers, including cancers that involve the brain. Fasting is shown to ameliorate chemotherapy-related adverse effects and may protect normal cells from chemotherapy.
Image Credit: Pixabay
5 of 12
 INSULIN LEVELS DROP AND HUMAN GROWTH HORMORE INCREASES: Your cells initiate important cellular repair processes and change which genes they express Many of IF’s benefits have to do with hormonal changes, cell function, and gene expression, say experts. In general, fasting triggers insulin levels to drop and human growth hormone (HGH) levels to rise.
Image Credit: iStock
6 of 12
 REDUCES INSULIN RESISTANCE AND LOWERS BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS: Intermittent fasting has been shown to have major benefits for insulin resistance and leads to a considerable reduction in blood sugar levels. A study published in March 2022 in the International Journal of Endocrinology, reviewing 10 randomised controlled trials of intermittent fasting showed that across the 10 trials, fasting blood glucose levels dropped at a statistically significant level after the IF diet. Meanwhile, insulin levels also dropped and average weight and waist circumference also decreased.
Image Credit: Supplied
7 of 12
 REDUCES RISK OF HEART DISEASE: The Cleveland Heart Lab has cited research suggesting that intermittent fasting also improves heart health. More significantly, this can happen even if you do not lose weight while you are doing it. The current scientific understanding shows the link between excessive weight to heart disease. Intermittent fasting is also known to improve sleep and a person's overall quality of life as it reduces the risk of heart disease.
Image Credit: File / Gulf News
8 of 12
 REDUCES BLOOD PRESSURE AND CHOLESTEROL LEVELS: In general, studies on obese people show that limiting food intake does helps in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure and cholesterol, alongside diabetes and weight, are the major risk factors for heart disease. In general, reducing those factors leads to a reduction in blood pressure — and the risk of heart disease.
9 of 12
 BOOSTS METABOLISM FOR FAT LOSS: While there are currently no long-term clinical studies on how intermittent fasting boosts metabolism, short-term fasts have shown to boost metabolism by up to 14%, according to one study. This helps your body burn fat. How? It’s known as the “metabolic switch” mechanism triggered by fasting. However, it should be noted there are currently no long-term clinical iTRF studies conducted in humans.
Image Credit: Istock
10 of 12
 EXTENDS LIFESPAN, HELPING YOU LIVE LONGER: Details of the study (“Circadian autophagy drives iTRF-mediated longevity”) published September 29, 2021 in the journal Nature point to how intermittent fasting extends lifespan through what is known as “Circadian Autophagy”. In one animal study, Columbia researchers used a fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to develop an intermittent time-restricted feeding (iTRF) diet. Interestingly, those that were in iTRF regimen robustly extended their lifespan and delayed the onset of aging markers in the muscles and gut. Researchers called it the “iTRF-mediated lifespan extension”.
Image Credit: Supplied
11 of 12
 REDUCES OXIDATIVE DAMAGE, INFLAMMATION IN THE BODY, & CUTS LEPTIN LEVELS: It is now known that fasting helps the body burn through all the sugar in the liver. Ultimately, then it has to transition into burning “fat for fuel”. This starts a “cascade” of biological events in the body that helps, among others, suppress inflammation, starts to repair damaged cells, and results in cellular-level action that contributes to desired health benefits. A number of studies have also shown that intermittent fasting — even without immediately fat loss — has resulted in a reduction of leptin levels. Leptin is a hormone (protein) produced by fat cells that acts mainly in the regulation of appetite and fat storages. IF was also seen to increase of adiponectin, which results in improvements of insulin resistance.
Image Credit: Pixabay
12 of 12
 REMOVES WASTE MATERIAL FROM CELLS: Fasting, restricting your calorie intake, can stimulate the process of autophagy — which occurs as your body removes and replaces damaged cell components. While your body has an entire system to remove waste and toxins, fasting and calorie restriction helps promote healthy detoxification. This is because reducing calories and fasting prompts your cells to ramp up the cleaning “cell death” process. One study found that rats who ate a high-fat diet — but only during an 8-hours window each day — didn't develop the same health concerns as rats who ate the same amount of food but could eat any time they wanted. After 24 months, rats given a restricted diet had more youthful immune systems and recovered better from heart attacks than the non-fasting mice. More info here: https://gulfnews.com/1.1653532607627
Image Credit: Agency