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Maya Elhalal

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If you thought that intermittent fasting was just another weight loss method, think again! It turns out the it also helps you to defeat the effects of aging.

Intermittent Fasting affects the body in three key ways:

  • It optimizes your body’s hormonal response
  • It boosts growth hormone release
  • It allows the body to detoxify

Intermittent fasting is an extremely effective way to lose excess body fat. In this article, however, we will focus on the extra benefits that IF provides in terms of anti aging, and longevity. (1)

Intermittent Fasting and Aging: The Science Speaks

There is a lot of research going on regarding slowing down the aging process. The shining star of all of this research was undoubtedly intermittent fasting. One of the most interesting facts to emerge from this research was that the body reacts to fasting the same way that it does to exercise. Both of them place stress on the body. But the stresses that come from fasting and exercise are considered as positive stressors.

When cells are put under mild positive stress, they respond by adapting in order to cope with the stress. This increased resistance to stress allows the body to better cope with the aging process. According to Mark Mattson of the National Institute of Aging (2)

Intermittent fasting increases lifespan and protects various tissues against disease, in part by Hormesis mechanisms that increase cellular stress resistance. A primary reason that intermittent fasting promotes longevity has to do with the switch to a fat burning energy system. 

Fat is a far cleaner form of energy than glucose. As a result, it improves insulin sensitivity. There is a lot less free radical stress than when your body is burning glucose for energy. That means a huge reduction in cellular damage. 

How Fat Energy Keeps You Younger and Smarter

Our bodily organs operate more efficiently when they receive their energy from fat as opposed to glucose. So, as we’ve already discovered, does the brain. When you are in the fat burning state of ketosis, the liver produces a compound called beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). This is an efficient source of fuel for the brain. BHB is also great for the immune system. This results in a reduced inflammatory response. What’s more, research out of the Yale School of Medicine also showed the BHB has the effect of recycling damaged immune cells and regenerating new healthy immune cells. (3)

Intermittent fasting was shown to improve a number of age-related factors, shown in a study that was published in the journal Cell Metabolism. These include rejuvenating the immune system and reducing the cancer risk. It also promotes neurogenesis of the hippocampus and boosts overall cognitive enhancement. (4)

Studies on both mice and humans have shown that intermittent fasting improves longevity by:

  • Reducing visceral body fat
  • Lowering the incidence of inflammatory disease
  • Enhancing brain function
  • Increasing bone density
  • Improving memory

Of course, all of these benefits come without any of the usual side effects that are associated with prescribed medications.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Achieve Such Incredible Results? 

A study that was published in the journal Cell Stem Cell revealed that intermittent fasting elicits particular pathways in the body that enable cells to become stronger and more able to resist toxins. This was seen to reduce immune system weakness and help to alleviate age-related diseases. (5)

Intermittent fasting has also been shown to increase the regeneration of stem cells. It actually activates stem cells to promote self-renewal. In other words, they are able to divide and make more stem cells. As a result, the body is able to regenerate. At the same time there is immunosuppression of cancer cells and decreased autoimmunity.

Intermittent fasting has also been shown to bring about positive changes to the gut biome. Your digestive system consists of some 100 trillion cells. Bacteria outnumber other cells by a ratio of 10:1. Your gut biome is constantly changing in accordance with your dietary and lifestyle choices. The healthier your choices, the greater the ratio of good versus bad bacteria. (6)

Not surprisingly, your eating habits have the greatest impact upon your gut biome. Intermittent fasting is one of the best things you can do to positively alter your gut bacteria balance. Your gut microflora makes up 80 percent of your immune system. As a result, the positive changes to your gut bacteria will have a profound effect upon your immune system. A healthier gut biome will also allow you to sleep more soundly, have greater energy and better concentration.

Summary

Intermittent fasting provides the means to cleanse and clear out your system. In the process, over time, it may eliminate the causes of a whole host of diseases from the body. And, unlike some medications which may cause unintended damage over time, it does all of this with very low risk of harmful side effects.

We have only scratched the surface of the research showing how beneficial an intermittent fasting lifestyle is to the health and well-being of the human body. Intermittent fasting has remarkable curative ability and a powerful anti-aging effect.

References
  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25540982/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Mattson
  3. https://news.yale.edu/2015/02/16/anti-inflammatory-mechanism-dieting-and-fasting-revealed
  4. https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(17)30504-1
  5. https://news.mit.edu/2018/fasting-boosts-stem-cells-regenerative-capacity-0503
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29712667/

Rather than being the latest fad diet kid on the block, intermittent fasting is, in reality, the world’s oldest medical treatment. In fact, the father of medicine, Hippocrates, advocated fasting over medication, once saying . . .

“Instead of medicine, fast for a day.”

When they are unwell, every animal, apart from humans, refrains from eating. They do this in the instinctive knowledge that not eating, has a powerful healing effect on the body. This has been known by humans, too, for thousands of years. Yet, it is only within the last few decades that researchers have been able to produce the science to prove it. 

Intermittent fasting has emerged as a very popular means of weight loss in recent years. Yet, the more research focus that it receives, the greater the benefits for overall health and longevity that are being discovered. 

As a result, fasting is being recognized as a legitimate breakthrough in the fields of weight loss, lean muscle increase, anti-aging and overall well-being.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating plan that revolves around strategically not eating for periods of time either every day or several times a week. This is done in order to develop metabolic flexibility and promote positive adaptations in the body that lead to specific outcomes. It is not a diet in that it does not stipulate a reduced daily caloric count (though this usually results anyway). Rather, intermittent fasting is a lifestyle pattern that is designed to be followed over the long-term. 

There are many variants of intermittent fasting, which we will detail in the next section. Each of them is based on the concept of going for a set length of time without, then eating during a short ‘feeding window.’ This is then repeated. It is intended as a long-term lifestyle choice rather than a short-term diet. 

The body of any living being can be in one of two states:

  • Fasted
  • Fed

These two states are, obviously, counters to one another. Modern life allows many of us to never experience the fasted state during waking hours, and that, turns out is not all beneficial. To borrow a Chinese concept, the two states are the Yin and Yang of your body. You need both to balance each other, and an optimal balance may promote your healthy longevity.

How Intermittent Fasting Keeps You Young

Growth hormone, also known as somatotropin, is a protein hormone that is made up of 191 amino acids. It is released by somatropin cells located in the anterior pituitary gland. Growth hormone is an important component of human development, making it vital for the muscle building process. It is also an important fat burning hormone. Just check out what optimized levels of growth hormone can do for your body:

  • Increased muscle strength
  • Enhanced fracture healing
  • Boosted weight loss
  • Increased bone strength
  • Lowered risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Enhanced virility
  • Improved cognitive functioning
  • Better sleep

When you have high levels of glucose in your blood, the pancreas releases a chemical called somatostatin. It has the effect of suppressing the production of human growth hormone. So, the more times that you eat through your day, the less growth hormone you will release into your body. The opposite is also true – the fewer times you eat, the more growth hormone your body will produce.

Growth hormone release decreases with age, but when you practice intermittent fasting, your body releases growth hormones and slows down the aging process. (1)

Brain Boosting Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Our understanding of the human brain has undergone some profound changes in recent times. It used to be thought that the brain was static and unable to be changed. Now we know differently. The brain has the ability to constantly adapt and change. 

The term neuroplasticity has been coined to describe the ability of the brain to form new connections. The brain can also heal itself. New brain connections are facilitated by a family of proteins known as neurotrophic factors. One specific neurotropic factor has been identified as being most crucial. It is called brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). 

BDNF activates brain stem cells to produce new brain cells. So, the more BDNF you have, the greater your potential to increase the number of brain cells. So, what can you do to maximize your body’s production of BDNF?

Intermittent Fasting!

And not just by a little bit! 

Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase BDNF production by between 50 and 400 percent! (2) (3)

The benefits of intermittent fasting, as we are starting to discover, go well beyond fat loss. It will encourage the body to dramatically increase the production of hormone and neural factors that will improve the functioning of our bodies and our brains.  But there is far more to the IF story than that.

 In Part Two, we drill down on the life enhancing benefits of intermittent fasting.

References

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC329619/?page=6

(2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16011467

(3) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15741046

When it comes to runners, Anne McGowan could be considered a late bloomer. She didn’t start pounding the pavement until she was 49. Anne began running to help her cope with the loss of her husband, yet she soon fell in love with the activity.

Born in 1925, Anne has been running regularly since 1974. In 1991, in the wake of a mastectomy, she ran in the 1991 National Senior Games, in which 50+ athletes who have qualified at regional level compete for national honors. As well as competing on the track in the 100, 200 and 400 yard sprints, Anne has also gone toe to toe with the best seniors in the country in such power events as the hammer throw, discus, javelin and long jump.

Anne is now 95 years old and still going strong. In fact, she’s in better shape than most people half her age. She is still competing at the National Senior Games, being just one of eight super agers to have competed in every game since their inception in 1987. Anne is a sterling example that over 80 doesn’t have to mean over the hill!

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