Can Intermittent Fasting Help You Live Longer?
Intermittent fasting is not only good for weight management, but researchers believe that it might hold the key to living a longer, healthier life. But with so many different variations of intermittent fasting out there, each with its own advantages and drawbacks, you may find yourself wondering which option, if any, is right for you, and if it actually lives up to its potential of promoting longevity.
Read on to learn about how intermittent fasting can affect your lifespan, and the different types of intermittent fasting that you can try.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves switching between eating and fasting for set periods. There are no set rules on which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them.
There are a few different types of intermittent fasting, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods.
Let's Explore Some of The Most Popular Types of Fasting:
- The 16/8 Method: This involves fasting for 16 hours every day, restricting eating to a specific 8-hour window, such as between noon and 8 pm. This method of fasting tends to be the most popular approach.
- Alternate-day fasting: With this approach, you eat a normal diet five days a week, and fast for two non-consecutive days a week.
- 5:2 fasting: During 2 days of the week, eat only about 500-600 calories while following a regular diet on the other five days.
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Researchers have been studying intermittent fasting for many years, examining both animals and humans to uncover its potential health benefits. So far, scientists have found links between intermittent fasting and improved metabolism and better blood sugar control. This can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions, such as heart disease and obesity.
Can Intermittent Fasting Improve longevity?
Studies demonstrate that intermittent fasting may help extend lifespan by improving a range of age-related disorders, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
There are several mechanisms thought to contribute to this potential boost to longevity.
Firstly, when you fast, your body enters a state of stress that triggers cellular repair mechanisms, including autophagy. Autophagy helps clear out damaged components within cells, preventing the accumulation of waste and potential harm, which can be linked to age-related diseases.
Fasting can also help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, two processes linked to ageing. Oxidative stress occurs when there's an imbalance between harmful molecules called free radicals and protective substances called antioxidants, causing damage to cells. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can lead to tissue damage and various diseases. By lowering oxidative stress and inflammation, fasting may support better longevity and overall health.
Should You Try Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is by no means a one-size-fits-all approach. That's why it's important to find what works best for you and your lifestyle. Remember, anything that is easy to sustain will make it easier for you to maintain in the long term.
While intermittent fasting has potential benefits, it's important to note that it may not be suitable for everyone, particularly older adults. If you are at risk of nutrient deficiencies, low blood sugar, or find it challenging to stick to a diet, it's advisable to chat with your doctor before starting any form of intermittent fasting.
Do You Need Supplements for Intermittent Fasting?
Maintaining your body’s nutritional demands is paramount to remaining healthy while you fast. While getting nutrients from food is ideal, supplements can be a great backup plan during intermittent fasting. They act as an insurance policy to support your health during this period.
As a nutritionist, I’d recommend taking supplements targeted to enhance your overall health and well-being while you fast. Consider including these supplements:
- Curcumin: Helps decrease insulin resistance
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Dials down inflammation
- Fibre Complex: To help increase satiety between meals
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Riya Lakhani ANutr is a registered nutritionist and health writer with a special interest in plant-based nutrition. She has completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Human Nutrition, and has developed a passion for writing about all things plant-based.