Fasting apparently has numerous benefits to the human body. New scientific research points to the fact that intermittent fasting is as healthy for a person as exercise. So far, several studies have found that fasting is a key to living a healthier, longer life.
Scientists have found that when the body’s cells are stressed, by either exercising or fasting, they have a reaction which is beneficial for overall health. This response on the cellular level has been found to contribute to longevity.
Time restricted feeding – the new term for intermittent fasting- shifts the body’s source of fuel from glucose to fat. Burning fat to produce energy benefits the body in weight loss and cleanliness on the cellular level. Fat burning is a process which produces less reactive oxygen species than when burning carbohydrates, according to researchers.
Another benefit of burning fat to produce energy is that only healthy cells can do this. That unhealthy cells cannot survive on fat maintains healthy cells in the body. Also, the fact that only healthy cells can derive fuel from fat explains why a diet high in healthy fats has been found to be beneficial to people with cancer – cancer cells cannot burn fat for fuel, and when starved of glucose, they die.
Studies have found that going without food for 16 to 18 hours every day, and not eating at least 3 hours before bedtime arrests development of chronic disease, reduces the risk of some diseases such as cancer and diabetes, slows the aging process and contributes to a general sense of well-being. Researchers are also beginning to realize that mitochondrial dysfunction is the cause of most chronic illnesses. Fasting has also been found to help mitochondrial health.
Autophagy is yet another benefit of fasting. When this process happens in mitochondria, it is referred to as mitophagy. During this process, the body begins to feed on itself, removing the damaged parts on the cellular level. Fasting promotes mitophagy, which in turn contributes to a healthier body.
Collin Champ, MD, a University of Pittsburg Medical School certified radiation oncologist, opines that the process of the body feeding on damaged parts on the cellular level renews the body, results in the body arresting cancerous growth, and stops metabolic dysfunction.
As part of an experiment, scientists made rats that were not capable of autophagy. As a result, they turned out with damaged brains, slept a lot more than others, had higher cholesterol levels and were fatter. The studies also indicate intermittent fasting can enhance cognitive ability, improve learning and overall brain structure.
The above provides compelling evidence for fasting benefits. For a healthy person, time restricted feeding is something to do for better health. However, fasting should be done under the supervision of a physician for persons who suffer from hypoglycemia, diabetes, chronic adrenal stress and cortisol dysregulation. Also, pregnant and nursing mothers should avoid fasting.