Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves intermittent periods of fasting, as the name suggests.
For some people, this could mean eating all their day’s food within a short window of time and not eating anything outside of that window.
Other intermittent fasting programs may involve not eating for an entire day, once or twice per week. And many other variations exist too.
Why would someone want to do this? An obvious answer that might spring to mind is that eating less can help you lose weight. But this is just one little benefit and not even the most impressive one.
Fasting Can Help Repair Cell Damage
For new, healthy cells to be created, the old and damaged cells need to be removed first.
Intermittent fasting can help with this cellular repair process by triggering a process known as autophagy. This is where the body breaks down and recycles old and damaged cells.
Not only does this help to heal wounds and keep the body functioning optimally, but it also helps reduce some of the risks associated with aging.
Fasting Might Help You Live Longer
Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction (when practiced safely and healthfully, without malnutrition) may help to increase your lifespan.
Autophagy appears to play a crucial role in this. It helps protect cells and reduce some of the inflammation and cellular damage that lead to the manifestation of chronic diseases and premature death.
It’s a difficult thing to test and prove in human studies. Still, research involving mice demonstrated that calorie restriction protocols led to a significant increase in longevity over the mice who ate normally.
Fasting Can Benefit Your Brain
Fasting can help to improve your cognitive function and protect your brain against some of the damage that leads to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Intermittent fasting also increases the levels of a hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This hormone helps with the growth and maintenance of new neurons and the protection of existing ones.
BDNF deficiencies have been linked to depression, suggesting that fasting might also benefit mood-boosting.
Not Eating Can Lead You To Better Eating
Intermittent fasting can help you to develop healthier eating habits overall. It can teach you to be more aware of your cravings and hunger signals and strengthen your ability to resist unhealthy foods.
When you do eat, you’re more likely to be mindful of your food choices and to focus on nourishing your body with whole, nutrient-rich foods.
Intermittent fasting can also help you appreciate food more and savor the flavors and textures of what you’re eating. This can lead to an overall more positive relationship with food and, ultimately, better health.