2020 Natural Health Trend: Intermittent Fasting
One of today’s most popular ways to nourish is not so much about what you eat, but when! Intermittent fasting is surprisingly beneficial for your health.
Intermittent fasting has become extremely popular in health, wellness and fitness circles, and is touted for its powerful effects on the body, brain health and longevity.
Contrary to many popular eating patterns, this one dictates not what you eat, but when. Intermittent fasting includes intentional periods of fasting – where calories are completely restricted as no solid or liquid food more than 50 calories is consumed. The practice varies: someone may fast daily for a period (12-16 hours) or choose to fast for certain days throughout the week.
Because of the variety of benefits, intermittent fasting has become very popular as an alternative to nutrition programs with constant calorie restrictions or limited types of food to eat.
Constant access to food is a relatively modern concept in human history. Our ancestors depended on hunting and gathering to obtain food, rather than a short trip to the grocery store or refrigerator. This frequent scarcity resulted in the adaptation of humans’ ability to endure long periods of time without eating.
Intentional fasting is also associated with traditions, ceremonies and faiths around the globe, woven into almost every culture or religion as a period of physical, mental or spiritual “clearing.”
Today, many of us are accustomed to eating from morning to evening, giving the digestive system little time to rest and the body less opportunity to repair – which some believe is linked to some modern disease and health conditions. Intermittent fasting programs are designed to give the body the opportunity to focus on certain facets of health and some of the benefits include:
When not participating in the digestion and metabolism of food, our cells can repair themselves. One of the benefits of fasting is that it puts your body into a state called autophagy – where your body can catch up on some vital and healthy cellular “housekeeping.” This has been linked to improved insulin resistance, anti-aging and disease prevention factors.
While there is a restriction of calories that goes along with intermittent fasting, extended periods without food allow the body to make hormonal adjustments (e.g. drop in insulin) which facilitate weight loss. These hormonal shifts make stored body fat more accessible to “burn” as energy and have also been known to increase metabolic rates. Intermittent fasting has also been indicated to retain lean muscle mass more efficiently than calorie-restriction approaches in eating, and people tend to be more mindful about what foods they eat during non-fasting periods, leading to healthier dietary choices.
While inflammation is an important protective response of our body to injury and disease, an excessive amount can be problematic. In these cases, periods of fasting have been found to be helpful for decreasing inflammation. Studies have found that fasting is linked to a reduction of monocytes – a type of white blood cell that can cause inflammation.
Supporting Your Intermittent Fasting Program
Certain foods and supplements can make your intermittent fasting program more efficient, supporting the body in times of “fast” and “feed,” including:
It’s important to ensure that the body is properly hydrated with plenty of water during fasting periods and with ample electrolytes, like sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium – a few of the mineral nutrients that our body needs to function properly. A supplemental blend of electrolytes can help ensure healthy levels.
These bacterial friends help with nutrient absorption and healthy elimination (along with many other benefits) and greatly complement an intermittent fasting program.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids
For those committed to fitness programs, branch-chain amino acids are helpful to take. Many opt to take them as they re-enter an eating period (as they technically will break a fast), but they can be supportive of the body for physical activity during fasting days/periods by helping to counter mental and physical fatigue.
What You Eat
When you are eating, it’s important to make healthy decisions so you can nourish the body. Choosing organic, unprocessed, whole foods that are free of artificial additives and pesticide residues will support your body’s metabolic and detoxification functions and amplify the benefits of an intermittent fasting program.
It’s also best to take many supplements during periods of eating, especially fat-soluble nutrients like Vitamins A, D, E and K – as well as any essential fatty acid supplement.
A natural living lifestyle best compliments any health-promoting eating practices and your CHFA Member health food store offers the highest quality foods and supplements to support and enhance the benefits of the intermittent fasting program that works for you.
- Alirezaei, M., et al. (2010). Short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy. Autophagy. 2010 Aug 16; 6(6): 702–710. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3106288/
- Heilbronn, LK. et al. (2005). Alternate day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1):69-73. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15640462
- Johnstone, A. (2015).Fasting for weight loss: an effective strategy or latest dieting trend? Int J Obes (Lond). 2015 May;39(5):727-33. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25540982
- Varady, KA. (2011). Intermittent versus daily calorie restriction: which diet regimen is more effective for weight loss? Obes Rev. 2011 Jul;12(7):e593-601. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21410865
- Varady, KA. (209). Short-term modified alternate-day fasting: a novel dietary strategy for weight loss and cardioprotection in obese adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Nov;90(5):1138-43. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19793855