Good cleanses are based on the principles of intermittent fasting – i.e. regular short-term bouts of abstaining from food intake.
Intermittent fasting has garnered a lot of attention in the past ten years or so as an extremely effective tool for managing weight and improving body composition. Less appreciated, however, are its effects on other aspects of health.
Here are a few ways intermittent fasting helps promote good health beyond weight loss.
It may help prevent some diseases through autophagy
Intermittent fasting may play a role in preventing several diseases.
It does this by increasing autophagy.
Autophagy is a normal process within the cells of the body that includes regulated protein degradation and turnover of worn out cellular components that are unnecessary or dysfunctional. The word literally means self-eating. Its derived from the Greek words “auto”, which means self, and “phagy”, which means eating.
Fasting increases cellular autophagy. It’s the body’s natural response to nutrient deprivation
In Canada alone, over 200,000 new cases of cancer were estimated to occur in 2017. 50% of us will have cancer in our lifetime. These are staggering numbers.
Autophagy helps prevent the development of cancerous cells by safeguarding normal cells against metabolic stress.
The induction of autophagy, which is increased during intermittent fasting, does this by promoting the turnover of the energy producers of cells (mitochondria) and getting rid of dysfunctional proteins.
When mitochondria are worn out, they don’t function properly and create reactive oxygen species that can promote DNA damage and the formation of cancerous cells.
Neurodegenerative diseases include Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, among others. Autophagy is generally impaired in neurodegenerative disorders suggesting a lack of proper autophagy may play a role in the formation of the disease.
Huntington’s disease causes uncontrolled movements, emotional problems, and the loss of thinking ability. It’s caused by the accumulation of proteins that results in the death of brain cells. Autophagy may help rid the brain of these bad proteins; a study from the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research showed the dysfunctional proteins associated with this disease can be cleared by autophagy.
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. It also involves the accumulation of dysfunctional proteins. And research shows autophagy is abnormal in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients.
Parkinson’s disease affects movement. The most well-known symptom is visible shaking of a hand, but it can also include stiffness or slow movement.
Parkinson’s has been linked with mitochondrial dysfunction. Autophagy promotes the turnover of mitochondria, which may help prevent some of the bad biological processes that develop Parkinson’s disease.
It helps regulate hunger, which can help you make healthier choices
Intermittent fasting is linked to changes in a peptide involved in regulating hunger: peptide YY.
Peptide YY is linked with feelings of fullness and satiety. Normally, it’s released from cells in the small and large intestine after a meal is consumed and from a small population of neurons in the brain stem.
Interestingly, a study conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago showed increases in levels of peptide YY after 10 weeks of intermittent fasting.
It improves insulin sensitivity
Insulin is a hormone secreted from the pancreas that helps glucose get into the cells of the body where it can be used for energy right away or stored for later use.
Insulin sensitivity refers to how much insulin you need in your blood stream for it to do its job effectively.
High insulin requirements (insulin resistance) are associated with a lot of health risks. Insulin at high levels can cause damage to blood vessels and its linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, heart failure, obesity, osteoperosis (thinning bones), and certain types of cancer.
Fasting increases insulin sensitivity. That means you need less insulin in your blood for it to adequately get glucose out of the blood stream and into your cells.
Because you need less insulin, you mitigate a lot of the risks associated with high circulating insulin.
It may help you live longer
Intermittent fasting is linked to increasing lifespan in animals and improving overall health as we age in human populations.
A study performed at the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy showed dietary restriction decreases visceral fat and improves inflammatory profiles. Visceral fat is the fat found deep within a person’s abdominal cavity, close to many organs and it has a profound influence on how hormones function in the body. Inflammation, especially the chronic kind, is linked to many age-related diseases.
While the link between intermittent fasting and health has been known for a long time, it wasn’t until recently that the underlying biology was better understood. Studies in animals, worms to be exact, suggest it has something to do with mitochondria.
A group of scientists from Harvard showed that restricting a worm’s diet caused changes in the shape of mitochondria, maintaining them in a more “youthful” state. Exactly how this translates to increasing how long we live and our health is still unclear, but it may have something to do with how these healthier mitochondria communicate with other organelles in the cell called peroxisomes and their ability to alter fat metabolism.
Cleansing – by way of intermittent fasting – has proven abilities in weight loss and weight management. But you shouldn’t just be interested in it if you’re looking for those two things. I mentioned a few benefits of it for overall health and wellness in this article today, but we’re just scratching the surface here.
If you’re interested in the different types of fasting protocols, please contact me. I can make sure you’re doing it right and maximizing its benefits.
I hope you enjoyed the article and have a great week!
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