Intermittent Fasting is a diet that promotes having a 16 hour fast from food each day. That looks like finishing dinner by 7 pm and not eating until 11 am the next day. Intermittent fasting has a number of positive benefits on the body. Lets have a look:
Brain - improved cognitive function, stress resistance and reduced inflammation, reduce Parkinson's symptoms
Heart- lowered heart rate & blood pressure, increased stress resistance
Fat Cells- breakdown
Muscle Cells- increased insulin sensitivity, efficiency and reduced inflammation
Blood- decrease in inflammatory mediators, leptin hormone, increased ketones from ketogensis
Liver- increased insulin sensitivity, ketone production, decreased inflammatory mediators
Intestines- reduced energy uptake, inflammation and cell proliferation
What does all of that mean?
- Better memory and ability to think clearly & a reduced risk of age-related dementia
- Decreased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure-related issues & diabetes
- LOSE WEIGHT, avoid age related health issues, maintain lobido
- Reduce gas, bloating and digestive disorders
What is a ketone?
Ketone bodies are the product of fat metabolism. In the absence of sugar, or the storage form of sugar known as glycogen, the body has to utilize another source of energy to power our bodies, brain and heart. That source is fat. Fat is broken down in the cells to produce ketones which are used as energy currency throughout the body.
When we fast, our body goes through a process of using up our stored energy beginning with glucose. Once that is complete, it looks to the liver where glycogen (stored glucose) is kept. Finally, in the absence of glycogen it moves on to fat. Re-teaching the body how to use up its glucose stores is the key behind the benefits of fasting. Large amounts of stored sugars leads to increased fat production, decreased insulin sensitivity, the development of diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Ketogenic diets are used currently by many MDs and hospitals for the treatment and management of seizures in epilepsy.
What is Insulin Sensitivity?
Each one of our cells has insulin receptors on it. Why? Because sugar powers our cells. That means to run all the necessary functions, our cells have to take in sugar from the blood stream and convert it to energy, especially the brain. Insulin sensitivity is a measurement of how easily our cells are able to bind the circulating sugar and bring it in.
In the presence of too much sugar, our cells down regulate the number of insulin receptors to reduce the amount of sugar being brought in. The cells become LESS sensitive to circulating insulin, and blood sugar levels rise as we consume sugar but don't take it up. This is the mechanism behind Type 2 diabetes: too much sugar consumption, fat production, insulin resistance and the oxidation of that fat leading to disease.
Excess sugar becomes fat!
Excess blood sugar is stored in the liver as glycogen. When there is too much glycogen, it is broken down into its components, one of which is Acetyl-Co A. Acetyl-Co A is subsequently transformed into fatty acids. Too much sugar is therefore converted to fat in the liver.
Why would I want to lower my leptin?
Leptin is the hormone produced in our fat cells that relays a message to the brain telling it how much fat we have. In a normally functioning system high leptin levels will relay a satiety signal to the brain, decreasing our desire to consume food. Why would we want to lower it? In a malfunctioning system where there are too many fat cells, there is also too much leptin. Too much leptin leads to leptin resistance in the brain. The satiety signal is never released and MORE fat is consumed. Decreasing the amount of leptin promotes leptin sensitivity in the brain and decreases the desire to consume fats in the diet.
How Intermittent Fasting works
It takes 13 hours for all the glycogen in our livers to be used up. If we eat 3 meals a day, we don't have time to use up our glycogen, and therefore don't enter into fat breakdown. Intermittent fasting allows for the breakdown of fats to Ketone bodies. Why is this a good thing?
Profound affects on Brain Health
1. Stimulates neurotropic factors (e.g. BDNF)- promote the growth, connection and strengthening of neurons in your brain. Neurons are our individual brain cells that are connected through electrochemical transmissions using neurotransmitters such as: dopamine, epinepherine, norepinephrine, serotonin, histamine, GABA and glutamate.
Challenges to the brain in the form of fasting, exercise and learning increases these neurotophic factors.
2. Increases the energy in our cells - Mitochondria are the power houses of the cell. They produce all the energy the cell needs to function. Intermittent fasting increases the number of mitochondria produced in our neurons due to the up-regulation of BDNF produced from the stress of the fast. The increase in mitochondrial energy production increases both the number of neurons formed and the strength in their connection improving our learning and memory abilities.
3. Enhances neuronal ability to repair DNA - fasting produces a small oxidative stress which causes our cells to increase its protection and repair of DNA.
Intermittent fasting is a stress on the body that increases memory and the ability of our brain to learn. It reduces the risk of developing serious life-threatening diseases.
How do I intermittent Fast?
1. Reducing your eating time to 8 hours per day
2. Taking a break from eating from 7 pm - 11 am the next day
3. The "5:2 Plan" - 2 days a week eat only 500 calories
Below is a presentation by Mark Mattson, Chief of Laboratory Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging and a professor at John's Hopkins University, discussing the benefits of Intermittent Fasting based on the studies he's read and performed.
To learn more about how to implement an Intermittent Fasting protocol, the best thing to do is consult a trained professional. Book an appointment with us to discuss how Intermittent Fasting can work for you.
Dr. Ariel Jones ND