Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

The ultimate guide on whether it’s worth it.

For years, we’ve been told it’s important to eat breakfast within an hour of waking up, to rev up our metabolism and get our day started right. But a more recent trend, intermittent fasting, throws that wisdom out the window. The technique relies on restricting your eating to set times and alternating between feasting and fasting.

“Intermittent fasting is allowing the body to have a prolonged period of rest without calorie intake,” explained Dr. Adam Perlman, an internist at the Duke Center for Integrated Medicine in Durham, North Carolina.

Proponents of intermittent fasting say it’s less of a diet than a lifestyle. “What makes intermittent fasting different from dieting is that you are regulating when you eat, not what you eat,” said Dr. Luiza Petre, a board-certified cardiologist and weight management specialist who follows the principles herself. However, she said, limiting your dining window “does not give you an excuse to binge eat, especially on unhealthy foods, when you are not fasting because you will not see the benefits.”

So, what are the benefits of this practice? And should you be doing it? We got the breakdown from experts. Here’s what you need to know:

How it works

There are various ways a person can incorporate intermittent fasting into their daily routine. Below are some of the most popular techniques.

The 16:8 Method: This structure involves consuming your meals within an eight-hour window and giving your body a break from food for the next 16 hours. “You are asleep for the majority of the fasting period, which makes this a medium difficulty compared to other variations,” Petre told HuffPost in an email. “16:8 also is the most common way of intermittent fasting and has gained the most media attention.”

The 5:2 Diet: Also known as the “Fast Diet,” this type of intermittent fasting includes two nonconsecutive days of a strict 500-calorie diet and five days of normal, healthy food. “This method fits the profile of people who have busy family lives or social commitments that would make it difficult for them to stick to a daily regimen,” Petre said. One caveat, per Perlman, is that this eating schedule “can have an impact on a person’s sleep, mood, and energy level.”

Alternate Day Fasting: This, according to Petre, is becoming a popular way to kick-start weight loss. The practice involves fasting every other day but eating whatever you want on the non-fasting days. People who follow this trend typically eat 500 calories during their fasting days and then don’t count calories on the other days.

A study published last year in JAMA Internal Medicine concluded that this fasting method hasn’t proven to be more effective than a restricted-calorie diet. “It is least sustainable of all fasting methods in [the] long term and is associated with more over eating in the non-fasting days,” Petre said.

Eat Stop Eat: This method involves consuming only non-caloric beverages for a full 24 hours, one to two times per week. So, for example, if your fasting day was going to be Tuesday, you’d stop eating after you finished a meal on Monday and wouldn’t eat anything else until that same meal the next day.

The potential outcomes can be beneficial for some…

According to Perlman, the potential benefits of intermittent fasting include weight loss and increased muscle mass. “During the fasting state, the body burns more stored fat for energy,” he said. Intermittent fasting can also enhance metabolism, he said, allowing you to more efficiently utilize food for energy.

“Research has also shown that intermittent fasting has effects on the gut flora, which might also explain some of the effects on metabolism,” Perlman said. He added there may be positive effects on insulin sensitivity and various hormones in the body, which can lead to effects such as decreased appetite and improved energy levels.

My whole body seems more efficient.Jazmine Giovanni, a Los Angeles-based writer who practices intermittent fasting

“My whole body seems more efficient,” said Jazmine Giovanni, a Los Angeles-based writer, of her experience with intermittent fasting. “With digestion limited to those few hours, my body’s energy reserves are focused elsewhere the rest of the time, making healing and recovery faster. I’m more focused and have more pep.”

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can decrease inflammation in the body and improve blood pressure and heart rate. It’s also been claimed that intermittent fasting can lead to improved brain function and decreased risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s, but these claims have less evidence backing them up, Perlman said.

Erin Wathen, a food addiction counselor and author of Why Can’t I Stick To My Diet, says that in general, the practice is a great way to give your digestive system a break. “It reduces the number of opportunities we eat so our body is not constantly having to process food,” she said. “This is a huge benefit for our GI tract, appetite control, sleeping, and even our teeth, which will benefit from reducing how often we ask our bodies to metabolize food.”

…But intermittent fasting is not for everyone

At the most basic level, intermittent fasting can be difficult for your schedule. Fitness and nutrition coach Ivana Chapman warns that people may have a hard time fitting intermittent fasting into their social life, for example. If your friends want to get dinner at 7 p.m. but your last meal has to be done by 6 p.m., that could be an issue.

And when people break the fast, they often overdo the portions. “Larger meals may be harder on the digestive system and can trigger acid reflux in susceptible individuals,” Chapman said.

Lisa Cooper, a dietitian with Orlando Health, noted that fasting can come with some initial side effects, such as “increased hunger, low blood sugar, headache, irritability, hypoglycemia/low blood sugar, dizziness, lightheadedness, tiredness, nausea, and fatigue.”

The practice can be particularly dangerous for people with certain health conditions.

“Some women, especially those who are already lean and who are active, may encounter hormonal issues if they reduce calorie intake and intermittent fast for days on end, or simply too often,” said Josh Axe, a clinical nutritionist and author of The Real Food Diet Cookbook. “These women may benefit from intermittent fasting only a few days a week, rather than every day, and by paying close attention to how their body responds.” He also emphasized that pregnant and nursing women should avoid intermittent fasting.

People with certain diagnoses who require calories or set meal timing, such as those with diabetes, hypoglycemia or underweight, should avoid fasting, along with people who require food to be taken with medications.Lisa Cooper, dietitian at Orlando Health

Cooper said fasting would not be appropriate in circumstances where people need extra calories or nutrients for growth and development, such as during childhood or adolescence, or when breastfeeding. “People with certain diagnoses who require calories or set meal timing, such as those with diabetes, hypoglycemia or underweight, should avoid fasting, along with people who require food to be taken with medications,” she said.

And anyone who has a history of eating disorders should forgo the practice. Perlman said that for people with such a history, any type of dieting or food restriction program “runs the risk of increasing the focus on food and exacerbating an already challenging if not unhealthy relationship with one’s diet.”

Axe noted that eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia, “can lead to malnutrition, which has a variety of negative effects on hormonal balance and someone’s metabolism.” Intermittent fasting can make those problems worse if someone is already undereating and struggling to produce sufficient hormones.

“Fasting may basically make all types of symptoms associated with eating disorders more severe, especially if someone is already underweight or very active,” Axe said.

What you need to know before you try it

Many experts endorse the practice of intermittent fasting, as long as it is properly and safely carried out. Part of this means continuing to adhere to a healthy eating plan, regardless of when you are consuming your calories.

“I’ve seen some people go overboard with the food during their feeding window,” said Sunny Brigham, a board-certified clinical and integrative nutritionist in Texas. She emphasized that the goal is to maintain a healthy amount of calories for your body, not to “rebound eat.”

If intermittent fasting is incorporated, it should be included as part of a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle change and under the supervision of a health care provider.Lisa Cooper

The bottom line, Cooper said, is that “if intermittent fasting is incorporated, it should be included as part of a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle change and under the supervision of a health care provider.”

For those starting out, Petre suggested implementing a 12-hour fasting/12-hour eating window and building up from there, eventually finding the schedule that works best for you. She also stressed the importance of breaking your fast with fresh, unprocessed, nutrient-dense whole foods, prioritizing healthy sources of protein and not going crazy with junk food, as that would negate the benefits.

Source: huffingtonpost.com ~ By:  Nicole Pajer ~ Image: Pixabay.com

How fiber and gut bacteria reverse stress damage

How fiber and gut bacteria reverse stress damage
In the stressful world we inhabit, many of us are keen to protect our bodies from the harmful effects that stress can produce. A new study hints that a high-fiber diet might go some way to achieving this.

 

A new study looks deeper at links between gut bacteria and stress.

The bacteria that live in our gut are as numerous as the cells in our body. As medical research progresses, the influence that these billions of tiny creatures have on our health is becoming ever more apparent.

It comes as no surprise that they might play a role in gastrointestinal issues, but the microbiome’s influence flies much further afield.

Most recently, it has become apparent that there is a significant relationship between gut bacteria and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.

Stress, the gut, and the brain

Although the thought of a microorganism in our intestines affecting our mental well-being seems like a leap, the gut and brain are deeply entwined. As an example, most people will know how a nerve-wracking situation can influence the speed of our bowels and, vice versa, how being hungry can cast a shadow over our mood.

A troubled brain can inform the gut, and a troubled gut can inform the brain.

Stress, although it is a mental state, can physically affect our gastrointestinal system and the bacterial residents within it. A recent study found that high levels of stress can affect gut bacteria to a similar degree as a high-fat diet; while other studies have shown that reducing the number of bacteria in the gut can produce stress-induced activity in mice.

So, it seems that the road runs both ways: stress can alter gut bacteria, and gut bacteria can influence stress levels. It is a complicated web.

A recent piece of research, published in The Journal of Physiology, takes a fresh look at how gut bacteria are involved in gut health problems induced by stress. The work was carried out at APC Microbiome Ireland at University College Cork and Teagasc Food Research Centre in Ireland.

The role of SCFAs

The team of scientists was interested in short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Gut bacteria produce SCFAs when they digest fiber; the cells of the colon then use SCFAs as their primary source of energy, making them vital for good gut health.

The researchers found that when they introduced SCFAs to the guts of mice, stress and anxiety-based behaviors were significantly reduced.

After demonstrating that SCFAs reduce anxiety, they wanted to understand how these small molecules influenced physical, stress-related gut damage.

Known as a “leaky” gut, high levels of stress over time increase the intestine’s permeability. This means that particles, such as bacteria and undigested food, can move more easily into the bloodstream, which can cause damaging chronic inflammation.

The researchers found that by introducing SCFAs, they reduced the gut leakiness caused by persistent stress.

There is a growing recognition of the role of gut bacteria and the chemicals they make in the regulation of physiology and behavior. The role of short-chain fatty acids in this process is poorly understood up until now.” Lead author, Prof. John F. Cryan

What does it all mean?

Fruits, vegetables, and grains naturally contain high levels of fiber. Although this study was conducted on mice, the inference is that a high-fiber diet might prompt gut bacteria to produce more SCFAs — thereby bolstering our gut’s natural defenses against the damage caused by stress.

Of course, plenty more research will be necessary before that conclusion can be written in stone; as Prof. Cryan says, “It will be crucial that we look at whether short-chain fatty acids can ameliorate symptoms of stress-related disorders in humans.”

Future work will also need to dig deeper to get a better understanding of exactly how SCFAs provide these benefits. Unwrapping the molecular shenanigans behind the scenes is likely to be challenging.

The authors hope that the current findings will, eventually, help in the “development of microbiota-targeted therapies for stress-related disorders.”

However, for now, attempting to minimize stress in one’s life while upping consumption of fruit and veg is likely to be a sensible recommendation, whether it impacts levels of SCFAs or not.

Source: medicalnewstoday.com ~ By:  Tim Newman ~ Image: pixabay

Newsletter, 3/8/24

Seasons of Life

Newsletter

Understanding the Seasons of Life

The idea of seasons in life refers to the different stages we experience throughout our lives. Just like nature has spring, summer, fall, and winter, each with its own characteristics, our lives go through periods of growth, stability, reflection, and change.

Here are some ways to understand the seasons of life:

Life Stages:

A common way to view seasons is through traditional life stages like childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, retirement, and elder years. Each stage brings its own opportunities, challenges, and expectations. READ MORE

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Embracing the Seasons of Your Life

Seasons of Life

Life, like nature, goes through seasons. There are vibrant springs of new beginnings, scorching summers of passion and growth, mellow autumns of reflection, and introspective winters of rest and preparation. Each season of life has its gifts and challenges, and embracing them all is the key to living a fulfilling life.

Here are some tips for embracing each season of your life:

Spring: Finding Joy in the New Beginnings

    • Savor the Moment: Don’t take the good times for granted. Be truly present and appreciate the happiness and opportunities that come your way.
    • Celebrate Milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments, big or small. READ MORE

Four Seasons of Life; How to Thrive

  • Have you ever heard an older person be referred to as “no spring chicken”?This common term is used to describe someone who is typically past young adulthood, but may still be trying to look and act younger than his age.While this isn’t typically meant as a compliment, it acknowledges the seasons of life that we all experience and the actions and mindsets that are associated with each.In this article, we will talk about the different seasons of life and the necessary transition of your mindset and actions between each season.  READ MORE

Isagenix Protein Cookies

Isagenix Protein Cookies

Make your own yummy protein cookies with Isagenix Protein Powder or your own favorite choice of protein powder. This recipe is made with some healthy ingredients like LSA, maca powder, honey, and cacao. Yumm!!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Mixing Bowl
Wooden Spoon
Baking Tray*
Sheet of Baking Paper
Cookie Cutter (optional but makes the nicest cookies)

*The baking tray can be a standard solid baking tray like this “Rectangular heavy duty non-stick sheet oven tray” or if you like making cookies, this “Perforated Rectangular heavy duty non-stick sheet baking tray“.

Ingredients
    1. 1x sachet of Isalean Pro (69 grams approx 17 teaspoons)
    2. 1x large egg
    3. 2x tablespoon of LSA
    4. 2x tablespoon of Chia seeds
    5. 2x tablespoons of maca powder
    6. 2x tablespoon of raw cocoa
    7. 2x tablespoons of organic honey*
    8. Splash of water (approx 3 tablespoons) to make the dough pliable
Instructions
    1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a wooden spoon.
    2. Roll dough into a ball and roll out to about half the thickness of your thumb.
    3. Use a cookie cutter to get nice even shapes.
    4. Bake until golden brown approximately 12 or so minutes at 180 or 200 degrees C.
    5. Let the cookies cool down on the tray as they might look a bit soft still.
Notes
    1. *As you can see by the ingredient list, the result will be quite raw/bitter tasting so if you have a sweet tooth and would like to add some more honey, I would recommend you add 4 to 5 tablespoons of honey to make it sweeter.
    2. This recipe makes exactly 8 cookies. They’re very filling!
Source: carolinebakker.com ~ By Caroline Bakker ~ Image: carolinebakker.com

What are electromagnetic fields?

What are electromagnetic fields
    • Electric and magnetic fields describe the spatial distribution of a force that can act upon electric charges and currents.
    • Electromagnetic fields can be generated artificially, but also occur naturally in the environment. They belong to “non-ionizing radiation“.
    • With static and low-frequency fields the electric and the magnetic components are considered separately. In the case of high-frequency fields, the two components are closely interrelated and are referred to as electromagnetic fields.
    • Low-frequency electric and magnetic fields can produce electric fields and currents in the human body. High-frequency electromagnetic fields can heat up biological tissue.
    • It is the task of radiation protection to ensure that the strengths of the fields are so low that no health damage occurs.

Electromagnetic fields are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Over its entire range, the spectrum extends from static electric and magnetic fields over optical radiation to very energetic gamma radiation. For the part of the spectrum in between static electric and magnetic fields and infrared radiation, the generic term “electromagnetic fields” is common.

When do we speak of fields and of waves or radiation?

Instead of the term “electromagnetic fields”, the expressions “electromagnetic waves” or “electromagnetic radiation” are also used. The various terms describe different physical properties:

    • field” describes the spatial distribution of a force that can act upon electric charges and currents
    • “wave” describes the propagation of a time-varying field in space
    • radiation” describes the transport of energy.

How are electromagnetic fields categorized?

In the same way, as the entire electromagnetic spectrum is divided into regions, electromagnetic fields are categorized into different types based on their physical properties. This is done either

    • according to their frequencies or
    • according to their wavelengths.

The unit of measurement for frequency is Hertz (Hz; 1 Hz = 1 oscillation per second). The wavelength is specified in meters (m). Frequency and wavelength are interlinked by the velocity of propagation. At high frequencies, the wavelengths are small, whereas low frequencies are associated with large wavelengths.

Frequencies above 300 gigahertz are generally referred to as “radiation”. The term “field” is not used for this range of the spectrum.

Why do we differentiate between static and low-frequency electric and magnetic fields and high-frequency electromagnetic fields?

With static and low-frequency fields the electric and the magnetic components are considered separately. In the case of high-frequency fields, the two components are closely interrelated and are referred to as electromagnetic fields. As the various ranges of electromagnetic fields have different physical properties, also their effects on biological organisms differ.

Where do we find static, low-frequency, and high-frequency fields?

    • A naturally occurring static field is the Earth’s magnetic field.
    • In the atmosphere, between the Earth and the ionosphere, there is a permanent electric field: the fair weather field.
    • Artificial low-frequency electric fields are present around all electrical wires and appliances to which a voltage is applied.
    • Low-frequency magnetic fields occur around all electrical appliances and wires with alternating current flowing through them.
    • High-frequency electromagnetic fields are used in mobile communications, WLAN, or cordless phones, for example.

What are the effects of electromagnetic fields?

Due to their different physical properties, the various ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum have different effects on biological organisms. In the process, the energy of the individual photons is particularly significant. It increases constantly with increasing frequency.

Electromagnetic fields belong to “non-ionizing radiation“. In contrast to ionizing radiation, the photons of non-ionizing radiation do not have enough energy to ionize atoms and molecules, that is, to “eject” electrons from the shells and to produce positively charged particles (ions) as a result. Among other things, this means that – in contrast to X-radiation – their energy is too low to cause direct damage to genetic material and to be directly involved in the development of cancer.

However, electromagnetic fields can cause health damage in other ways:

    • Low-frequency electric and magnetic fields can produce electric fields and currents in the human body.
    • High-frequency electromagnetic fields can heat up biological tissue.

It is the task of radiation protection to ensure that the strengths of the fields are so low that no health damage occurs.

Source: bfs.de ~ Image: bfs.de

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