What, When & Why of Fasting

What, When & Why of Fasting

fasting

The ongoing pandemic has brought health back to centre stage.

Being healthy is largely a choice, and while exercise remains irreplaceable for good health, a good diet plan is a critical tool in building a healthier lifestyle.

The health-conscious population is moving from once-popular small meals multiple times in a day to the trending intermittent fasting, as the age-old practice of having a substantive gap between the meals gets more and more validation from science.

If we zoom in, we would be able to decipher how 'when we eat' potentially holds as much importance as 'what we eat.'

In the last few decades, the stakeholders in the ever-growing snack food industry have pushed us towards snacking between the meals routine, which has palpably not done any good to our health.

If it was a complete marketing gimmick or had some scientific relevance, we are left to wonder. 

The emerging studies argue for maintaining larger gaps between meals.

This act of willing abstinence or abatement from all or certain food, drinks, or both, for a period is referred to as fasting.

Read More:- Recipes for Diabetics: Healthy and Delicious Meals

Fundamentally, regulating the gap between meals is known to improve blood sugar and thereby emerge as a potential cure for diabetes (Hyun Lee JH, 2020).

It was recently shown in mice that just caloric restriction without a longer period of fasting was not enough for improved health and longer lifespan 

(Pak et al., 2021). It improves brain function and structure, resulting in increased nerve cell generation which may enhance cognitive function(MCL, 2019).

You can read more on our blog: 10 reasons why fasting could be your elixir of life  and Fasting for a healthy mind: 9 reasons, why it is a no brainer!

 

Health

Furthermore, fasting helps in reducing inflammation which leads to the pathogenesis of several chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis etc.

These biochemical changes occur inside the body, which can assist one in leading a happy and healthy life.

Apart from the above-mentioned health benefits, it's essentially weight loss and delayed ageing, which is helping it to gain its vogue fast. 

It's advised to keep oneself hydrated enough during fasting.

Read More:Weight Loss Meal Replacement Smoothies Recipes

If one feels unwell or observes fatalistic signs, it's pertinent to stop fasting immediately and revive the fasting schedule that better suits the mind and body.

Furthermore, increasing the gap between meals is a bit like training for endurance running.

One should try to build the capacity to fast between meals over time as you would practice for a marathon. 

You can read more on our blog:  5 Reasons Intermittent Fasting Is Good for Cardiac Health

Fasting has many forms and some of the prominent ones are:

Types of fasting

Frequently Asked Questions.

 Here we explore the back and forth of fasting, and try to figure out the questions which pop up in our minds every time we talk about fasting:

  • Can there be a single fasting suitable for all?
  •  

    There is no one-size-fits-all approach to maintain a healthy body.

    The type of fasting needs to be individualized considering the response of the body.

    During fasting, our body produces signals in the form of neurotransmitters and hormones that clean up our system, boost our immune system, and effectively strengthen the muscles and regulatory mechanisms.

    However, the change in the system is widely similar, but the response of the body may vary from one individual to another. 

    You can read more on our blog: 10 reasons why fasting could be your elixir of life  

  • Which is better- time restriction or calorie restriction?
  •  

    There is plenty of data available in support of a time-restriction diet or IF as a better fasting practice than calorie restriction.

    A recent study in rodents showed that calorie restriction with fasting is necessary to make the most of eating less.

    It is certainly easier to practice also as one can have his regular meal but in a compressed eating window.

    For the best results, it is also advisable to exercise restraint in choosing the meals. 

  • What about the notable results, when to expect them and for how long it stays?
  •  

    Everyone has a different rate of metabolism which leads to different systemic responses to calorie intake or restriction.

    Someone may lose a few pounds in a week, whereas the other may take up to six months for the same.

    Except to those with specific medical conditions, fasting does not do any harm to our system, which makes it an outstanding addition to our way of living.

    The results would surface sooner or later and shall stay for long.

    You can read more on our blog: Fasting for a healthy mind: 9 reasons, why it is a no brainer!

    Combination of health

  • Are fasting outcome gender-based?
  • Metabolic response varies between male and female system and so is the fasting outcome.

    Studies showed that a drop in glucose levels was more prominent, whereas free fatty acids and insulin resistance were higher in females than males.

    In females, fasting worsened the blood sugar control (Heilbronn LK, 2005).

    It may also disturb the cycles including menstrual, ovulation etc.

    Fasting affects the hypothalamus, a part of the brain, resulting in disruption of gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which controls the release of two reproductive hormones: luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone(Meczekalski B, 2014). So, yes, fasting outcomes are gender-related.

  • Does fasting have any side effects?

  • When we say side-effects, we need to look at both- short term and long-term effects.

    As discussed above, the initial response of the body to fasting may vary from one person to another.

    One may experience headache, tiredness, digestive issues, sleep disturbance, etc initially, but these shall go away once the body adjusts to the fasting routine.

    If it persists then, one may make favourable changes in the fasting pattern.

    There is no evidence supporting systemic damage due to fasting, but it needs more investigation as some medical conditions including hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia may lead the body to react differently and it's advisable to seek a physician’s advice before starting to fast if one has an existing medical condition.

    The practice of fasting allows the body to put digestion on hold, while focusing more energy into the process of effective immune regulation, tissue repair, and hormone optimization.

    Some form of fasting is a necessary part of the toolkit towards attaining a longer and healthier life. 

    You can read more on our blog: 10 reasons why fasting could be your elixir of life  

    Bibliography

    Heilbronn LK, Civitarese AE, Bogacka I, Smith SR, Hulver M, Ravussin E. 2005. "Glucose tolerance and skeletal muscle gene expression in response to alternate day fasting." Obes Res 574-581.

    Hyun Lee JH, Han K, Huh JH. 2020. "The sweet spot: fasting glucose, cardiovascular disease, and mortality in older adults with diabetes: a nationwide population-based study." Cardiovascular Diabetology 19: 44.

    MCL, Phillips. 2019. "Fasting as a Therapy in Neurological Disease." Nutrients 2501.

    Meczekalski B, Katulski K, Czyzyk A, Podfigurna-Stopa A, Maciejewska-Jeske M. 2014. "Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea and its influence on women's health." J Endocrinol Invest 1049-1056.

    Motori A, Puyal J, Toni N, Ghanem A, Angeloni C, Malaguti Met al. 2013. "Inflammation-Induced Alteration of Astrocyte Mitochondrial Dynamics Requires Autophagy for Mitochondrial Network Maintenance." Cell Metab 844-859.

    MP, de Cabo R and Mattson. 2019. "Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease." N Engl J Med 2541-2551.

    Trepanowski JF, Kroeger CM, Barnosky A, et al. 2017. "Effect of Alternate-Day Fasting on Weight Loss, Weight Maintenance, and Cardioprotection Among Metabolically Healthy Obese Adults." JAMA Intern Med 930-938.




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