Increasing your healthspan across generations
For most people in our society, being hungry is not an issue. Food is available on demand and if left to our own devices, most of us, would reach for something to eat at the first sign of hunger. And yet, there is an increasing body of evidence that suggests reducing calorie intake can have major health benefits such as improving metabolism and healthspan and that intermittent fasting can improve overall body composition ie. less body fat while preserving more muscle, optimize human performance and even slow the process of aging and disease.
Common types of fasting
There are different types of fasting that offer many benefits, so let’s take a look and some of the common types.
Intermittent Fasting can fall into 3 broad categories:
Time restricted eating refers to limiting one’s intake of food to certain hours of the day without trying to overtly reduce the number of calories consumed. The most common version of this protocol is the 16:8 ratio, which translates into eating during an 8 hour window and fasting for 16 hours on a daily basis. For example, if I had breakfast at 9 am I would then finish eating supper by 5 pm and only consume water or tea (without sugar or milk) after that until bedtime. A 14:10 ratio also considered to be effective with a 10 hour window of eating time.
Allowing your metabolism to rest or quiet down for 14 – 16 hours can be quite beneficial. When the body runs out of food it starts digging into reserves like fat and scavenging dysfunctional cells in the body, which can be conceived of as a house cleaning.
Alternate day fasting
Is just what the name implies, fasting on alternate days. A variation of this protocol allows for a small amount of food, approximately one quarter of normal calories consumed on fasting days. For some individuals this is more sustainable and this method seems to have the same effects as other variants of fasting, particularly where weight loss is concerned.
Periodic or prolonged fasting
Prolonged Fasting also promotes cellular and systemic clean-up through physiological programs such as apoptosis and autophagy. Most healthy individuals can endure several days fast without harm.
Typically prolonged fasting involves more than a 48 hours fast and sets off a different set off metabolic events such as a deeper ketosis and depletion of glycogen stores. Prolonged Fasting (consuming only water) also promotes a more thorough cellular and systemic clean-up through programs such as apoptosis and autophagy. Most healthy individuals can endure a several days fast for the health benefits and undergo prolonged fasting 5 to 7 days once or twice a year for it’s cleansing effects on the body. Even so, if you plan to fast several days or longer, you should get the ‘Green light’ from your doctor.
People who fast regularly report feeling energized and more alert by the end of their fast. Fasting appears to be linked to certain repair and rejuvenation mechanisms in the body physiology and may also optimize lifespan and healthspan. Something we should all take seriously. Dr. David Sinclair a medical researcher at Harvard University has written an excellent book Lifespan in which he discusses his ground breaking research on healthspan and ‘reverse aging’. Dr. Sinclair highly recommends intermittent fasting as one of the central things we can do to improve healthspan (being healthly into our old age). Other bona fide medical researchers such as, Rhoda Patrick also strongly advocates intermittent fasting for similar reasons. Her website is a treasure trove of information in the public domain.
Time restricted eating has been very beneficial in my case. After 9 months of intermittent fasting using a 10:14 eating ratio. That is, an eating window of 10 hours and 14 hours of fasting I effortlessly lost 14 lbs. Remember that mindless and unnecessary eating is mostly a habit, and that habits can be broken. Once 5pm comes around, I simply forget about food. I will have one or two teas in the evening and that satisfies my desire to consume.
Good news – habits can be changed
The good news is that most of the fasting is done at night when you are asleep so it’s easy as pie. By the way, being a little hungry from time to time actually feels good. Getting use to this regime takes a bit of time. After about one or two months and it becomes second nature. I allow one cheat day a week and eat what I want when I want. That’s perfectly OK. My attitude towards food in general is; “I eat to live, I do not live to eat” While I enjoy my food, my attitude is that eating is a means to an end. Eating gives me the capacity to do things I value most in this world and that is, after all what is most important.
By: Eddy Basch D.O.
Clinique Osteopathie Montreal
Eddy Basch DO treats a baby patient at: Clinique Osteopathie Montreal
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