Sunday, January 5, 2020

Intermittent fasting - is it for you?

As my favorite medical assistant used to say, "I need to get my mind right". My photo today is a Christmas image of a 'Yuletide' camellia bloom next to the salt lamp in my home office. It helps me to center and focus on what matters.

I need this reminder to help me resist the urge to eat up all the leftover Christmas goodies! Clothes are getting tight and I need to get back to my yoga routine and then this article came to me through my IFM email.

The original article from the New England Journal of Medicine is 11 pages and highlights the research behind the touted benefits of intermittent fasting.

So I thought I'd introduce the concept here and if anyone wants further info, just email me through my website

There are a multitude of ways to achieve the benefits of intermittent fasting but the two most common strategies studied involve either limiting your eating to a small window each day (most patients adhere to a 6-8 hour window, for example, I have patients who only eat between noon and 6 pm daily) or doing a 5-2 eating plan that involves only having one moderately sized meal on two days of the week and eating regularly (2-3 meals) on the other 5 days.

I also have some patients who stop eating at least 3 hours before bedtime and then maintain a minimum 12 hour fast before any caloric intake the next day. An example of this would be eating dinner at 6pm and finishing food intake before 7pm for a 10pm bedtime and then waiting until after 7am before having any calories.

This daily intermittent fast will ensure a ketogenic environment overnight to improve the production of BDNF - brain-derived neurotropic factor - which does what is sounds like, it encourages new neuronal growth and connectivity to improve brain function, something we all need as we age!

The intermittent fasting strategy isn't for everyone but provides immense benefits to those who are able to adhere to it. The main benefits are improved glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, lower inflammation, greater abdominal fat loss, better blood pressure and heart rate regulation and better tolerance of stress, along with weight loss and improved brain performance.

These things are achieved by ketone signaling that prompts metabolic switches that regulate glucose usage, trigger anti-aging pathways that reduce free radicals, allow DNA repair and conserve cellular pathways that allow resistance to potentially damaging influences and encourage cellular pathways that recycle and reuse certain cellular constituents to improve cellular health and longevity.

The operative word here is KETONES. Ketone bodies are released from fat cells when glucose levels drop after a fasted state has been maintained longer than 12-14 hours. If you are unsure about whether you should try intermittent fasting (and whether you should get into ketosis) to improve your brain and sugar metabolism (among other benefits) then talk to your functional or integrative provider about potential risks and weigh those against the benefits.

2020 is here and as time is marching on we all need help to slow down the aging process and improve our health for the long haul. Whatever strategy you choose, may your food choices bring you better health and a long life that you can enjoy.


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