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Our Nutrition Team's Top 5 Researched Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Our Nutrition Team's Top 5 Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting (IF): 

  1. Weight Loss 
  2. Improved Brain Function 
  3. IF Gives Your Digestion A Break 
  4. Induces Cellular Repair 
  5. Reduced Risk Of Chronic Health Infections  

1. Weight Loss 

Intermittent Fasting (IF) may speed up weight loss by lowering insulin levels. The body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose; which your body can either use for energy or store for use at a later date. Insulin is a hormone which allows your cells to use the glucose, and it drops when food is not being consumed (1).

During a period of fasting, your falling insulin levels cause your body to use up your stored glucose as energy, which is what facilities your body to lose weight (2). IF also means you are consuming fewer calories than normal, which also contributes to losing weight (3). 

 

2. Improved Brain Function. 

Various animal studies have confirmed that IF is positive for the functioning of our brains, and suggests fasting could suppress inflammation in the brain, therefore reducing chances of various health conditions in the future. 

It has also been found in these studies that fasting, along with exercise, stimulates the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF (4). 

This protein plays critical roles in learning, memory, and the generation of new nerve cells in the brain. BDNF also makes neurons more resistant to stress, which can benefit brain function. 

 

3. Gives Your Digestion A Break. 

Digesting food takes up a lot of time and energy for our bodies. Giving your digestion a break means that energy can go towards repair; allowing the body’s enzyme system to focus on cleansing and breaking down toxins in the body, quickly and efficiently. This can also speed up your metabolism to help you burn calories more efficiently. If your digestion is poor, this can effect your ability to metabolise food and burn fat (5). 

Fasting can also improve the good bacteria in our gut, which can in turn benefit our immunity and brain function, due to our important brain neurotransmitters being primarily produced in the gut (6). 

 

4. Autophagy (Cellular Repair). 

Autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer and healthier cells. It is our body’s way of up-keep and self preservation. It is also a key component in anti-aging and supports this process. 

Autophagy seems to play an integral part in the immune system, by cleaning out toxins and infectious agents. There is also evidence that it may help to control inflammation, and to protect cells against incoming microbes (7). 

It can be triggered by fasting and calorie restriction. When this happened the cells must work more efficiently, and causes the body to ‘clean out’ or recycle any damaged cells. 

 

5. Reduced Risk of Chronic Health Conditions. 

Studies have shown that IF may help to fight inflammation, a key driver of various common diseases (8). It may also increases the body’s resistance to oxidative stress, which could benefit the body as a preventative measure to avoid chronic health conditions (9). 

 

References: 

  1. Zauner C, Schneeweiss B, Kranz A. et al. (2000). Resting energy expenditure in short-term starvation is increased as a result of an increase in serum norepinephrine. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun;71(6):1511-5. 
  1. Varady KA. (2011). Intermittent versus daily calorie restriction: which diet regimen is more effective for weight loss? Obes Rev. 2011 Jul;12(7):e593-601. 
  1. Barnosky, A., Hoddy, K. Unterman, T. (2014). Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings. Translational Research, 164(4), pp.302-311.
  1. Lee J, Duan W, Long JM. et al. (2000). Dietary restriction increases the number of newly generated neural cells, and induces BDNF expression, in the dentate gyrus of rats. J Mol Neurosci. 2000 Oct;15(2):99-108.
  1. Li, L. Su, Y. Li, F. Wang, Y. et al. (2020). The effects of daily fasting hours on shaping gut microbiota in mice. BMC microbiology, 20(1), 65.
  1. Hu, D. Xie, Z. Ye, Y. et al. (2020). The beneficial effects of intermittent fasting: an update on mechanism, and the role of circadian rhythm and gut microbiota. Hepatobiliary surgery and nutrition, 9(5), 597–602.
  1. Alirezaei, M. Kemball, C. and Flynn, C., 2010. Short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy. Autophagy, 6(6), pp.702-710.
  1. Johnson JB, Summer W, Cutler RG. et al. (2007). Alternate day calorie restriction improves clinical findings and reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in overweight adults with moderate asthma. Free Radic Biol Med. 2007 Mar 1;42(5):665-74.
  1. Aksungar FB, Topkaya AE, Akyildiz M. (2007). Interleukin-6, C-reactive protein and biochemical parameters during prolonged intermittent fasting. Ann Nutr Metab. 2007;51(1):88-95.