We all know the benefits of intermittent fasting – our insulin levels drop; blood levels of the human growth hormone increase – and both can lead to fat burning and muscle gain – and much more. But did you also know intermittent fasting can slow down the ageing process? Here are four ways intermittent fasting can not only help you lose weight and become healthier – but live longer.
- Insulin. Recent studies show the lower our insulin levels, the longer we live. Resistance to insulin is reduced through fasting, which can dramatically improve diabetes, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and elevated blood lipids which are all risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease.
- Our cells. The human body is amazing in many ways. It regenerates new, healthier cells when you fast, which contributes to longevity. This is called autophagy. Cells are the basic building blocks of the body’s tissues and organs, and as we get older, they can become defective – or stop working altogether.
- Our brain. Research shows insulin resistance accelerates cognitive ageing and is an early predictor for cognitive decline. Seeing a loved one’s memory loss is both sad and difficult – and knowing your own memory is declining can be extremely distressing.
- Inflammation: The Mayo Clinic in the US says intermittent fasting can also reduce inflammation, and improve conditions associated with inflammation such as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, asthma, multiple sclerosis and strokes.
Are you keen to try intermittent fasting? The other big benefit is, of course, weight loss. In the absence of food, the body exhausts its glucose stores and starts burning stored fat. I have a firm rule: I always leave five hours between meals (no snacking, ever!) and once or twice a week I miss a meal – for instance, I skip breakfast, then eat lunch at noon and dinner at 6pm.
This is time-restricted eating, and often easier for some people than fasting for an extended period. Choosing foods that elicit a lower insulin response is also known as nutritional fasting, which can mimic many of the positive effects of fasting.
Try it! It is not as hard as you think, and the benefits are well worth it.