Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that has shown to be effective for those that are looking to manage their weight, maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and boost overall health. 

Fasting is hardly a new concept, many religions incorporate it.  For instance, once a year during Ramadan, Muslims observe a month-long period of fasting from dawn until sunset.

Science suggests that fasting can positively impact cells by assisting to fight free radicals. Practicing intermittent fasting can also support your body’s ability to deal with stress at a cellular level, which could support healthy aging as well as overall health. 

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

  • Boosts Weight Management.  Numerous people turn to intermittent fasting for weight management. By reducing your eating window, intermittent fasting can help reduce your overall caloric intake, as well as power-up fat-burning by pushing your body into ketosis.

    Ketosis is a metabolic state in which your body uses fat for fuel instead of sugar. Intermittent fasting works by depriving your body of its principal source of energy, forcing it to start breaking down fat cells instead.

  • Heart Health. A lot of the intermittent fasting research has focused on its ability to help with heart health. Studies show that intermittent fasting can positively influence heart health factors, including supporting healthy levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. It may also assist in reducing inflammation, another major factor that can benefit a healthy heart.
  • Reduce Inflammation.  Inflammation is a normal immune response created to protect the body against injury and more. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can lead to chronic issues.
  • Improved insulin sensitivity & glucose levels.

    After eating, the body breaks the food down. Then glucose from the food goes into your bloodstream for transportation to your cells. Glucose is fuel for the cells to do their jobs. Once your body gets the signal you have eaten, β cells (in your pancreas) produce insulin. This now tells the cells to “open the door” and let the glucose in from the bloodstream.

    Insulin resistance is when the cells do not allow glucose in, leaving it to stay in your bloodstream. When glucose has been in the bloodstream for a while, it gets stored as fat for later. This is because it thinks your cells don’t need it now as it is not being let in as it should.

  • Reduce Inflammation.  Inflammation is a normal immune response created to protect the body against injury and more. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can lead to chronic issues.  Intermittent fasting has been shown to suppress inflammation and reduce oxidative damage.
  • Research shows that intermittent fasting can be protective against neurological diseases.  This is due to the production of ketone bodies (byproducts of fatty acid breakdown, which are a healthy and preferred fuel for your brain) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF, which activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons and triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health).

Is intermittent fasting for me? 

When the body’s blood sugar levels are too low, cortisol is released to bring your blood sugar back to a stable range. If you have dysregulated blood sugar, fasting may increase your cortisol levels.  Signs of blood sugar dysregulation can be;
– Feeling light-headed between meals.
– Feeling really tired after eating.
– Strong sugar cravings.
– Noticeable energy fluctuations throughout the day.
– Shakiness.

If you are eating a lot of processed foods or a diet that is high in carbohydrates and thinking of giving fasting a go, then firstly you will need to clean it up and move over to a whole food diet.  Please avoid refined carbohydrates, sugar/fructose, and grains.  Focus your diet on vegetables, moderate healthy protein, and healthy fats.

You could try the 5:2 approach to begin and see if fasting is suitable for you.  This means eating your whole food diet for 5 days and intermittent fasting for the other 2.

As always please see your Naturopath for individual dietary advice for YOUR body.

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