Intermittent Fasting: Why Is It Important To Fast Periodically!!
Updated: Mar 28, 2019
Fasting has been gaining interest of many for quite sometime. There are lots of questions about intermittent fasting from the people I meet. Hence I have compiled this write up for my patients and readers.
What is fasting?
Fasting means not eating any food or drinks or eating certain foods or drinks for a length of time.
Why is fasting important?
Intermittent fasting is important to have a healthy functioning body. Our body needs time to rest so it can regenerate and repair organs, tissues, DNA, mitochondria and other cells.
Fasting can be done in several ways. Some of the popular ways are:
Intermittent fasting or Time restricted Eating:
This type fasting involves fasting for 12-36 hours or more. Some popular time restricted eating patterns are 16:8 ; 18:6, or 20 :4 hours fasting and feeding periods.
Lets look into 16:8 fasting and 20:4 fasting as an example:
16 : 8 fasting : This means fasting for 16 hours and then eating nutrient rich foods during the 8 hours of feeding time. A good way to start this is to start with breakfast by 9 am and finish feeding period of 8 hours with dinner by 5 pm. After 5 pm continue fast till the next day 9 am.
In a 20:4 fasting: Fast for 20 hours, Feed for the next 4 hours. Whatever method one use, consume all the required calories for that day during the feeding period.
Two Meal a day: Another popular method is having two meals a day during the feeding period. Consume all the caloric intake of that day during these two meals.
One Meal a day (OMD) 23:1 : Here consume all the calorie and nutrient requirement of that day in one meal within a period of one hour.
Alternate day fasting (ADF): Alternating a feed day and fasting day. The Fasting day also can be continued with a 75% calorie restriction.(2)
One day fast: Fasting for one day in each week.
5:2 Diet: Eating a healthy nutrient rich diet with normal caloric intake for 5 days. The next two days reducing the calorie intake to 25%. Example if total calorie intake of one day is 2000 kCal/d . On the fasting days 500 kCal/ day is consumed. (That is 25% of 2000)
How many days a week should I fast?
Some experts believe a time restricted fasting and feeding of few days a week, all through out the week, or sometimes for months can be beneficial. Even one or two days a month of fasting have shown benefit.
Can I Drink water and fluids during intermittent fasting?
During fasting period you can drink water, herbal teas or coffee without any sugar or milk added. Note that this does not include people who fast for religious reason by abstaining from all food and drinks.
Can I do bone broth or do juicing during an intermittent fast?
During a true intermittent fasting period if anything with caloric value is taken, it breaks the fast. Fruit juice, vegetable juice or broths all have caloric values. However studies have shown that during a fasting period a calorie restricted diet to be beneficial as well.
Juice fasting or bone broth fasting is a variant of fasting where there is calorie restriction. During this type of fasting when low caloric nutrient rich drinks are consumed, the nutrients in them are better absorbed in the gut and taken to the cells.
Is there anything else I should know before going on to intermittent fasting?
A person who has never fasted before should slowly build up their timing of fasting.
Fasting should be done under medical supervision, if the fasting involves longer periods of time, if there is any Liver disease, kidney disease, cardiac arrhythmias, Diabetes, autoimmune diseases or any other chronic illness.
Now lets look into some studies which has been done showing the benefits and importance of fasting!
Intermittent Fasting decreases pro-inflammatory cytokines , IL- 1β , IL -6 and Tumor necrosis factor α, thus halting inflammatory response in the body(1).
Enhances mitochondrial health, DNA and cell repair(11).
Studies shows that Insulin resistance and fasting insulin levels improved during Intermittent fasting(2).
Promotes weight loss and can improve metabolism(3,4).
Studies shows that 12-24 weeks of Intermittent fasting every day (all day) reduces blood cholesterol levels by 5-20%; Triglyceride levels by 17-50% (4).
Intermittent fasting or calorie restriction has anti-inflammatory effect on brain improves neurogenesis and increases synaptic plasticity(5). This can be important for patients with any neurodegenerative changes in the brain like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson disease or Multiple Sclerosis(9).
Fasting minimizes aging process by decreasing the activation of inflammatory cytokines leading to reduced oxidative stress and improved mitochondrial functions(5).
Intermittent fasting can increase lifespan even when there is little or no overall decrease in calorie intake(6).
Fasting can regenerates diseased immune system: Prolonged fasting promotes hematopoietic stem cells self-renewal to reverse immunosuppression(10).
Studies shows that Fasting sensitizes tumor cells to chemotherapeutic agents, and may aid in reducing dose of chemotherapeutic agents, perhaps maybe even replacing them(7,8,9)
Hope this information is helpful to kick start Intermittent Fasting and incorporating Intermittent fasting in your health care regimen so that your body can have a chance to detoxify, regenerate and heal. If more information is needed on fasting, detoxification or any other naturopathic protocols send me a message on my Facebook page. ***************************************************************************************** ************************************
1) Faris MA et al, ‘Intermittent fasting during Ramadan attenuates proinflammatory cytokines and immune cells in healthy subjects’. (2012) Nutrition Research, 32 (12), 947-955
2)Barnosky AR et al, ‘Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings’.(2014), Translational Research. 164 (4), 302-3011
3) Varady KA et al, ‘Intermittent versus daily calorie restriction: which diet regimen is more effective for weight loss?’ (2011), Obesity Review. 12(11), 593-601.
4) Tinsley GM et al, ‘Effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and clinical health markers in humans’. (2015) Nutrition Reviews. 73(10), 661-674
5) Hadem IKH et al, ‘Beneficial effects of dietary restriction in aging brain’(2019). Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy. 95, 123-133
6)Honjoh S. et al, ‘Signalling through RHEB-1 mediates intermittent fasting-induced longevity in C. elegans’.(2009) Nature International Journal of Science 457, 726-730
7- Changhan Lee, et al, ‘Fasting Cycles Retard Growth of Tumors and Sensitize a Range of Cancer Cell Types to Chemotherapy’ (2012). Sci Transl Med, 4(124):124ra27
8) Naveed S. et al ‘Starvation based differential chemotherapy: a novel approach for cancer treatment’ (2014), Oman Medical Journal , 29(6): 391-398
9) Written by Rachael Link, MS, RD; 8 Health Benefits of fasting, July 2018; https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fasting-benefits#section8
10 ) Chia_Wei Cheng, et al. ‘Prolonged fasting reduces IGF-1/PKA to promote Hematopoietic stem cell based regeneration and reverse immunosuppression’ June 5, 2014, Cell Stem Cell,
11) Mark P. Mattson, et al, ‘Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes’ (2017) Ageing Research Reviews, 39; 46-58.