Intermittent fasting (IF) has steadily been gaining popularity, and for so many reasons. It has more health benefits than you can count on your fingers and toes; one of the most important ones is that intermittent fasting could slow aging and help you live longer. Here are four reasons why.
Luiza Petre, MD, a weight-loss specialist and board-certified cardiologist, explained that "intermittent fasting aids autophagy, a cell-based self-cleaning function that tears down and recycles molecules that are damaged." When you're fasting and insulin levels drop, autophagy significantly increases. Autophagy can help get rid of weak or damaged cells, which could help prevent diseases such as Parkinson's, dementia, and cancer.
When your body doesn't have a constant energy source from the food you eat, it allows your body to utilize the fat stores it already has, helping you decrease your overall body fat percentage. Maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk of life-threatening diseases such as type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer including breast and colon, heart disease, and stroke.
Decreased Belly Fat
Intermittent fasting lowers insulin levels and increases human growth hormone, both of which increase your metabolism and allow you to tap into stored fat and can help decrease stubborn belly fat. Stephanie Ferrari, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian with Fresh Communications, shared that in a 2014 scientific review on IF, the study participants lost four to seven percent of their waist circumference. "This means they lost a lot of belly fat, which is the harmful fat in the abdominal cavity that can lead to disease," Stephanie said. Less belly fat means a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
Intermittent fasting lowers white blood cell counts, which triggers stem-cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells, which not only boosts your immunity but also plays a role in longevity.
While this hasn't been tested on humans, a study on rats shows that intermittent fasting increased lifespan as well as slowed down the development of tumors. Although humans and rats are very different species, this research is worth noting. Since intermittent fasting offers so many other benefits and has the possibility to help you live longer, doing fasting in some way seems like a no-brainer!
If you want to get started with IF, the best method is the one you can maintain that suits your lifestyle. Begin with 12:12 and work your way up to 16:8 (fasting for 16 hours, eating for eight). Or if you don't want to fast every day, you can do the 5:2 method, which involves eating only 500 calories twice a week and eating normally the other five days. Or you may prefer Eat Stop Eat, where you fast for 24 hours once or twice a week, essentially eating dinner, skipping breakfast and lunch the following day, and then eating dinner that evening. There are so many ways to implement IF in your life; find the one that works for you so you can start reaping all the benefits.