The benefits of intermittent fasting
By Wendy M. Henrichs
Board Certified Chiropractic Pediatrician and Nutrition Counselor
Is your diet in need of a reboot before the holidays? Remember that your diet is how and what you eat, not something that you do for a short period of time to lose weight. There are several popular diet patterns today, including Keto, Paleo, Gluten Free, Low Carb, High Protein, Whole 30, and Mediterranean. The number one diet pattern in 2018 was Intermittent Fasting. This article will explore intermittent fasting and its benefits. If you are looking for ways to manage your weight, decrease inflammation and pain, lower your blood pressure, lower your total cholesterol, decrease your risk for heart disease and diabetes along with having more energy and longevity then intermittent fasting could be for you.
Fasting originated in ancient evolution and healing tradition across millennia. It has been shown to support overall metabolic health. It supports cellular cleanup which leads to cellular regeneration and an increase in circulating stem cells (i.e. younger cells). It impacts genetic markers associated with an increase in human longevity and health span.
Fasting is not a fad. In Obesity 2019, those practicing time-restricted eating within a six-hour period and fasting for 18 hours improved fat-burning and lowered levels of the hungry hormone ghrelin, as compared to those who ate exact same meals in 12-hour period. Eating only during limited hours can improve weight management, increase longevity, and improve our immune system’s ability to fight disease. Mt. Sinai researchers published a study (Cell, Aug. 22, 2019) showing that fasting reduces inflammation and improves chronic inflammatory diseases without affecting the immune system’s response to acute infections. Intermittent fasting is known to improve sensitivity to blood glucose, lower blood glucose, protect against fatty liver, and lower pancreatic fat.
There are several approaches to intermittent fasting but, in my opinion, a 12-16 hour fasting period that includes breakfast and eating your last meal before 6 p.m. is doable for the average person with a multitude of benefits. A study published in Nutrients 2019 compared the effects of eating a high fat, high sugar diet (the Standard American Diet-SAD) to a 12-16-hour intermittent fasting diet. Eating more than six meals and snacks daily while skipping breakfast, eating high fat and high sugar, and eating the last meal later at night with a reduced fasting period causes increased hunger, inflammation and total cholesterol, and a decrease in insulin sensitivity. Just skipping breakfast leads to increased LDLs, increased body fat, increased weight and an increased incidence of diabetes. Eating breakfast and eating your last meal before 6pm with a fasting period between 12-16 hours has many positive effects such as decreased hunger, decreased inflammation (leads to decreased pain), decreased total cholesterol and increased insulin sensitivity. There were also decreases in LDLs, blood pressure, body weight, body fat and a decreased risk of diabetes and heart disease. These are some very compelling reasons to consider intermittent fasting.
Some things to keep in mind if you are considering intermittent fasting:
• Eat Breakfast: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It ignites your metabolism and your brain. Breakfast should include protein, healthy fats (avocado, grass-fed organic butter, salmon, omega 3 eggs, nuts or seeds), fruit or vegetables. Skipping breakfast leads to increases in body weight, body fat, LDLs and risk of diabetes.
• Eat Dinner/Supper before 6 p.m. (if possible): Eating later at night leads to increases in fat deposition, blood pressure, cholesterol and increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. I suggest brushing your teeth after supper which helps prevent the evening noshing. Your dinner should include four ounces of lean protein (organic chicken, grass fed beef, wild game, wild caught fish, or legumes) paired with one to two cups of steamed vegetables and/or leafy greens. If you must have starch, limit it to a half-cup serving.
• Eat three meals a day with two small snacks (if needed) that include protein, good fats, veggies and/or fruits.
• Fast for 12-16 hours between supper and breakfast: This improves your ability to burn stored fat, which amps up your metabolism.
• Eat whole foods that do not come from boxes or packages. That is, eat mostly plant derived food like fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables plus lean protein sources such as eggs, organic chicken, grass fed beef, wild game, wild caught fish, legumes and nuts. Eat organic foods as much as possible. Visit www.ewg.org for the dirty dozen and clean 15 as a guide. Eat good fats from grass fed butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and grape seed oil.
• Drink half of your body weight in ounces of water daily. Try for eight ounces of water per hour throughout your waking hours.
• Avoid trans fats, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils/fats.
Intermittent fasting was used by our ancestors, sometimes out of necessity. It is a way to lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol and LDLs, decrease your risk for diabetes and heart disease along with long term weight management while increasing energy and longevity. Consider intermittent fasting as a means to not only live longer but get more life out of your years.
Dr. Wendy Henrichs is a board certified chiropractor and nutrition counselor at Timber Land Chiropractic in Rhinelander. For a complimentary chiropractic, nutrition or lifestyle counseling consultation, visit TimberlandChiropractic.com, Facebook, or call 715-362-4852.