Introduction to Fasting
Over the past decade, intermittent fasting has become increasingly popular and for good reason. Studies continue to showcase the many benefits of fasting, and intermittent fasting has been shown to improve weight, inflammation, hypertension, and insulin resistance. So, whether you are looking to detox, lose weight, or maintain optimal health, intermittent fasting could be a good choice to implement into your daily routine.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Unlike many popular diets that focus on what you eat, intermittent fasting concentrates on when you eat. Also called intermittent energy restriction, intermittent fasting is a cycle in which you switch between eating and fasting, usually on specific schedules. Common intermittent fasting schedules involve daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours several times per week.
This methodology of fasting stems from the ancient hunter-gatherer way of life. Our ancestors did not have the same easy access to food that we do today. Many of them were also faced with extreme climate changes throughout the year, which meant that they relied solely on a successful hunt to provide food—and often fasted to ration food so it would last through extreme seasonal and climate changes.
When you fast, your cells undergo adaptive stress which activates different pathways in the body that increase the production of antioxidants, cell repair, and autophagy. Scientists believe these cellular fasting responses can lead to a healthier, longer life for humans.
Get your free guide to Cellular Health!
Learn how to optimize your cellular health, improve your overall well-being, and extend your lifespan.
What are the Benefits of Fasting?
There are many changes that happen on a molecular and cellular level during fasting periods. Here are some specific ways that fasting aids in positive overall health and puts your longevity genes to work:
- Cell Rejuvenation and Repair: When you fast, studies show that your cells start to repair themselves. One study found that short-term fasting induces neuronal autophagy, which is your body’s way of “cleaning out” any unnecessary or damaged components. In other words, it ignites your body to clean out old cells to make space for new cells that function optimally.
- Raises NAD Levels and Activates Sirtuins: NAD is a coenzyme that is critical in turning nutrients into energy and helps in regulating cellular functions. NAD also activates sirtuins that regulate cellular homeostasis, which helps prevent and stop bleeding and aids in cell repair. It has been proven that sirtuins are activated when you are fasting, a process that helps with metabolic regulation, insulin response, antioxidant defense, and glycolysis.
NAD declines as you age, but fasting has shown to increase NAD levels, which is vital for overall health and longevity.1 To aid in the production of NAD and sirtuins, early time-restricted feeding is recommended (meaning the last meal of the day is eaten in the afternoon).
- Insulin Sensitivity: A small study showed that alternate-day fasting improved insulin sensitivity and dropping insulin levels in the body. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible.
How does Fasting Increase Lifespan?
A well-known method for improving longevity and increasing lifespan is caloric restriction—or the reduction of food intake while avoiding malnutrition. In 1935, a study on caloric restriction in mice showed that reducing food intake by around 40% led to increases in maximum lifespan by 30% to 40%. In the year since, studies have found similar results in species ranging from yeast to worms to rhesus monkeys.
By eating just enough food to function—and no more—your body engages its survival circuitry and activates stress responses that were evolved to increase our chance of surviving adversity. Caloric restriction activates regulatory proteins called sirtuins and longevity-associated genes with the effect of boosting cellular defenses, preventing disease and deterioration, and slowing aging.
But adopting a strict caloric restriction regimen is not an easy choice. As a lifestyle, it requires considerable meal planning and the ability to endure hunger. At the same time, the exact levels of calorie restriction needed to achieve an increased lifespan are still uncertain.
The Science Behind Fasting
Keep in mind that although studies have shown the positive effects and the health benefits of fasting, it is still a new concept. Much of the research has been centered around small, short-term studies or conducted on animals. The best thing to do is to eat a healthy diet that includes a lot of plants and be consistent with exercising. There are many ways to optimize your health on a cellular level. We have created a 5-step guide to help you get started today to optimize your cellular health and improve your athletic performance. Download your copy for free.
1. A Super Brief and Basic Explanation of Epigenetics for Total Beginners, What Is Epigenetics https://www.whatisepigenetics.com/what-is-epigenetics/