The majority of people who ask me about intermittent fasting are wanting to lose weight and not eating seems like the quickest route to achieve that goal. Sure you can lose weight through intermittent fasting. I have seen it happen time after time. However, there are so many more benefits of intermittent fasting than a quick weight loss scheme.
Why might you want to start practicing intermittent fasting?
Benefits of intermittent fasting are more than weight loss
Many people when they are looking at fasting as weight loss support are essentially going after caloric restriction. They are fasting as a way to decrease their calorie intake.
The problem with this is that many people end up malnourished and energy depleted in the process and actually create a weakened immune system. This is the opposite of what we are looking for when using intermittent fasting as a tool to enhance our health.
The power of autophagy
The underlying mechanism I would suggest gives a fasted lifestyle its star power can be found in something called autophagy.
Cellular senescence is a normal part of aging. Basically, it is the process by which cells lose their capacity to grow and divide. However, these senescent cells don’t just go away. They continue to hang out in our body spreading inflammation and wasting energy.
Some researchers refer to senescent cells as zombie cells. They are in the body but they are not helping the body. In fact, animal studies have shown that when we destroy senescent cells, we can actually slow down the aging process and enhance overall health.
Of course, the more we trash our bodies with processed food, overeating, chronic negative stress, sleeplessness, chemicals, and fear, the more inflammation and oxidative stress we create in our body, which leads to DNA damage and an increase in cellular senescence.
The act of being alive and doing all the right stuff will not stop your body from creating these zombie cells. However, it can significantly slow the senescence process while empowering your regenerative processes. That is what we call a double win. Slowing an undesirable health pattern while increasing a desirable health pattern.
Oxidative stress and inflammatory activity are decreased in the fasted state as well, which compounds to slow the creation of more senescent cells.
In fact, fasting has been shown to turn on sirtuins as well, which act to regulate genes within our cells.
As sirtuin activity increases, DNA repair is enhanced and longevity of our body is promoted. Increasing sirtuin activity has even been shown to play a role in stopping replications of viruses.
A strong immune system
On the immune front, I would like to note that practicing intermittent fasting helps to clear aged immune cells which is crucial to having the capacity to mount a powerful but controlled immune response when pathogens show up on or in your body.
Also, if one has an autoimmune condition, the anti-inflammatory effects of fasting could serve to complement other lifestyle therapies to promote the most intelligent response of the immune system and curtail the autoimmune tendencies.
Intermittent fasting helps on so many levels. What I have just reviewed is really just the tip of the iceberg.
The main things to consider are that intermittent fasting can help your body clear old cells, repair DNA, increase longevity, decrease overall body inflammation and strengthen your immune system. And sure, you will probably lose some inches in the process.