These days, we hear a lot about fasting. Intermittent fasting, time-restricted eating, juicing, and water fasting are just some of the many terms being thrown around in support of better health. Which one is best though? And where does fasting play a role when it comes to supporting our body’s anti-ageing functions, our longevity, as well as our overall health and wellness?
When it comes to fasting, I would not usually recommend carrying out a fast during the winter months. However, it depends on the kind of fast you do. I certainly wouldn’t recommend juice fasting or any cold liquid fasting through winter. These are easier to do during the warmer months. I would instead recommend intermittent fasting, which comes in a number of forms, including The Fast Diet, also known as the 5:2 diet, where you eat normally for five days a week, then for just two days you cut your calorie intake (600 for men, 500 for women).
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting involves eating all your meals within a specific time frame and going without food, or fasting, for the remainder of the day. This allows your body longer periods of time without the work of digestion (which is a six-hour process) so it can focus on its other duties. Not to mention, as insulin drops off after your last meal, your body will begin running on stored fat; this is the fat-burning zone we so often crave when hoping to shed a few pounds.
There are three primary intermittent fasting protocols:
- Whole day – fasting on some days, eating regularly on others. In the 5-2 protocol, eating occurs during five days throughout the week, with complete fasting or very low calorie consumption on two days during the week.
- Alternate day – eat and fast every other day.
- Time restricted – eat during the same window of time every day. The time-restricted protocol typically has a six- or eight-hour feeding window (for example 12 noon – 6pm).
How can fasting help with healthy ageing?
- Fasting supercharges metabolism, making the body more efficient at breaking down nutrients and burning calories. It also slows down the degradation of DNA, which is what occurs when we age, and accelerates DNA repair, thus slowing down the ageing process.
- Fasting also increases the levels of antioxidants that can help prevent the body’s cells from being broken down by free radicals, which are molecules that can cause damage to cells. Additionally, fasting can reduce the chronic inflammation that occurs as people age.
- Fasting has been shown to improve cholesterol levels by increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol, and decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol. It can also lower blood pressure, improve glucose control, and reduce fat deposits in the liver. Fasting can also enhance the state of the gut microbiome, which can improve both physical and mental health. It can also help with sleep quality, cognition and memory.
- Boosts weight loss – when your body goes into a fasting state, it initially raises your metabolic rate, making you use up calories at a higher rate than your body normally would. That is just one way it helps with weight loss. Another study also found that intermittent fasting specifically leads individuals to eat fewer calories overall per day.
Read more about the health benefits of fasting in my blog post here.
The longest I’ve fasted for was 10 days at the Viva Mayr Clinic in Austria, under the care of the doctors and nurses there. It was a water, herbal tea, and clear vegetable broth fast, together with taking magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts) every day, having colon hydrotherapy, IV vitamin infusions, massages, and saunas. I came home looking and feeling like a new woman! I felt great, and lots of people told me that I looked great. When my husband Kevin came to collect me from the airport, he walked straight past me because he didn’t recognise me!
All in all, fasting promotes a healthy, vivacious lifestyle at any age, making it way more meaningful than just a fad. Before embarking on making changes as significant as fasting to your health routine, make sure you run it by your GP first.
If you have any questions about any digestive or gut health-related issues, please get in touch.