This guest post was written by Dr. Kimberly Crawford of AgeWellSolutions. She is passionate about disease prevention and all-natural anti-aging treatments, and has become one of the top anti-aging doctors in the world. You can check out her blog here or follow her on Facebook!
Intermittent Fasting Is Great For Weight Control And Health:
Attempting to lose weight? Good news for you! The way for you to stop your cravings for sugar, starches, salty foods, and just “too much food” might include medical fasting. This is because ketosis (the formation of ketone bodies due to stopping your intake of carbohydrates and sugars) depresses the appetite which pretty effectively damps down cravings.
For people who just hate the idea of dieting, intermittent fasting offers a simple alternative that doesn’t involve calorie counting or starvation.
What is it?
Intermittent fasting is more of a lifestyle shift rather than simply a diet change. It’s a way of living and eating that can help you live a longer, healthier life without feeling like you are actually sacrificing. Intermittent fasting benefits your overall health, as it may very well extend lifespan, and does indeed protect against disease.
How does it work?
It most definitely does enhance brain health through the increased production of BDNF. BDNF stands for “Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor,” which is a protein that enhances brain health in many exciting ways.
Studies have shown that reducing typical calorie consumption, usually by 30 to 40 percent, extends life span by a third or more in many animals, including nematodes, fruit flies and rodents.
When it comes to calorie restriction in primates and people, however, the jury is still a bit out. Although some studies have suggested that monkeys that eat less live longer, a new 25-year-long primate study concluded that calorie restriction does not extend the average life span in rhesus monkeys.
Even if calorie restriction does not help anyone live longer, a large portion of the data supports the idea that limiting food intake reduces the risks of diseases common in old age and lengthens the period of life spent in good health.
Have you heard of “telomeres”? They are the tips of our DNA (genetic material) and they get shorter with age. This is, in fact, a bio-marker for “aging.”
However, they shorten SLOWER (according to some studies) if you incorporate medical fasting into your “routine,” whether you need to lose weight or not. I personally do it and I sure don’t need to lose weight. But I’ve had telomere testing and mine have actually lengthened in a 6-month timespan!
I strongly support the evidence for medical fasting for health and longevity. And, again, if you are trying to shed pounds this is a great way to get started. And yes, I’ll tell you exactly how to do it! But first, let me share the health benefits!
Fasting intermittently benefits your body, as it likely extends lifespan and protects against disease, including the following:
- It reduces oxidative stress
Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative free radicals in the cell, and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease.
Simply put: oxidative stress is the opposite of how many anti-oxidants are stored in your tissues. It is stress at the cellular level. When you have oxidative stress, you have an increased risk of all “diseases of aging” such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Just about everyone has this problem and it’s quite easy to fix. As a side note about oxidative stress, it’s fixed by eating 12+ servings of organic non-gmo fruits and/or veggies daily or by “juicing” regularly and scientifically, or by using powdered organic non-gmo fruits and veggies which can be prepared into a drink – this is what I do.
- It promotes increased insulin sensitivity
Fasting increases insulin sensitivity. In other words, it improves the way your body uses insulin to take up glucose into your cells to be utilized for energy.
This means you will have a lower blood sugar and therefore less “insulin resistance” which is also known as “glycation.” Glycation has been shown to cause “stiffening” and therefore aging of the cells in the body. It also is a contributory factor to many diseases of aging, especially Alzheimer’s.
- It increases mitochondrial energy efficiency
Remember learning about the cells in your organs where the Krebs cycle occurs and the product is ATP (= cellular energy)? If not, I’ve just now refreshed your memory.
Mitochondrial energy efficiency means more ATP = energy production, and less mitochondrial cells dying off over time. Both of these things retard aging and disease.
- It gives you and increased capacity to resist stress, disease and aging
Fasting induces a cellular stress response (similar to that induced by exercise) in which cells up-regulate the expression of genes that increase the capacity to and resist disease and aging.
Let me explain: You are NOT your genes. You have genetic material (your DNA) which carries genes that hold information. That genetic information can be “expressed” or not (you may have genes for diabetes but you will not necessarily develop diabetes…)
Your genetic information can be “up-regulated” or “down-regulated.” A fast-food meal of a hamburger, fries and sugary soda up-regulates the expression of the genes responsible for diabetes as well as those responsible for heart disease. Eating a salad on the other hand, DOWN regulates the expression of those genes.
Expression = you develop “the disease.” Non expression = you do NOT. Get it? So your behavior is constantly having a good or bad impact on the expression of your genetic material.
OTHER BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING:
- It decreases total body inflammation, which is yet another “happenstance” that has been proven to contribute to aging and diseases. This is more pronounced when coupled with what I discussed above (oxidative stress and glycation.)
- It decreases blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
- It will improve your immune system = less infections/less cancer.
- It helps to normalize ghrelin levels. This hormone is known as “the hunger hormone,” and is usually “out of whack” in those who have spent a lifetime consuming sugary and processed foods. It is supposed to go down when you are actually full but instead, high levels keep you eating.
- It also adjusts the other “out of whack” eating hormone leptin by making you more sensitive to its satiety effects.
- It raises Human Growth Hormone levels.
Now I would also suggest that you need to learn how to control cravings when you’re NOT fasting, if you are reading this for weight loss and are having cravings.
In other words you need to know how to “navigate the world” so you will either need to just switch into the “ketotic mode” (more in a moment on this) OR use supplements to help you decrease cravings.
CAUTION: The information that follows is not for diabetics or people with eating disorders.
In a nutshell “going ketotic” is not what you think – it’s NOT the Atkins diet – it’s a way to go from a healthy anti-inflammatory-anti-aging diet to a ketotic version of it. Obviously sugar is the first most obvious no-no!
How to Do Intermittent Fasting?
1. For weight loss:
Studies show that taking day 3 and 5 of a 7 day week and doing caloric restriction to 500 calories for women, 600 calories for men give the best weight loss results. So understand that this first way is what is studied the most and involves caloric restriction. “Going ketotic” healthfully on these day will suppress your appetite. To do this, just look at the synopsis of what should be your lifetime healthy eating plan listed below. Eating a really “clean” healthy diet will help you not only stay healthier, you will stay leaner, feel better and look younger too!
Now, despite the studies being done using caloric restriction and not necessarily using ketosis I personally believe that there are added health benefits to “going intermittently ketotic” and studies are close to proving this. I also think it’s a bit inhuman to ask someone to restrict to 500 calories without the natural appetite suppressant effect of ketosis! So what you do is take the list of “allowed” foods below and when you are calorie restricting you also make that a “ketotic day.”
KETOGENIC diet days method (of your Anti-Aging Anti-Inflammatory diet):
- EAT as much protein-rich food as you like during 2 to 3 days (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, etc.)
- However, Big NO-NO’s: no fruit, no veggies, no sprouted cereals, no milk products, alcohol or caffeinated beverages… basically NO CARBS.
2. For health – a quite popular form of fasting:
Restrict all eating to an 8 hour window.
An example of this is to eat from 10 AM to 6 PM or noon to 8 PM – this just depends on your choice and your “hunger rhythms.”
You will experience weight loss if you also restrict calories, meaning: if you are of normal weight, keep an eye on this.
Here is a synopsis of the anti-inflammatory-anti-aging diet plan:
- Lean protein sources as much as desired: turkey, fish (wild caught high omega 3 only), chicken, shrimp, scallops, other mollusks and whey protein powder. Eggs have now recently moved to the “unlimited” list if organic and derived from non-caged chickens. All meats are to be organic, grass fed, cage free, hormone and antibiotic free.
- Restricted “use” lean protein sources: Soy (organic & GMO free) and lean beef (2 times per week.) All meats are to be organic, grass fed, cage free, hormone and antibiotic free.
- Dairy: Full fat dairy, meaning Greek yogurt only (2-3 servings per week.)
- Starches: 1-2 servings daily: breads are sprouted and gluten free, all other grains are sprouted.
- Vegetables- minimum of 12 servings per day (avoid vegetables that are high density carbohydrates such as corn and peas.)
- Nuts: 1-2 servings per day (particularly almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and brazil nuts.)
- Fruit: 1-3 servings daily with only whole, fresh fruit.
- Sweetener: Stevia- NO other sweeteners.
- Coffee: 3 cups per day maximum. Unlimited decaf herbal tea.
- Oils: Olive oil (dishes) & Coconut oil (cooking.)
- Alcohol: 1 glass of red wine daily is optimal. See if cravings control might include restricting alcohol.
- AVOID: Sugar, fruit juice, refined carbs, foods labeled as “low fat,” high starch vegetables, white potatoes, corn, and all processed meats and processed foods.
3. This is MY way-and everyone reports super high energy levels!
There are no studies on what I’m about to tell you other than what I’m doing with my own patients and AgeWellSolutions members. I’m actually now doing this myself because it just plain makes this whole fasting thing easy! I have had patients and members who were “stuck” and couldn’t do the above plans because of multiple reasons, so I took all of the “work” out of it.
I take care of a lot of super busy people so the reason I had to come up with this is that they just plain couldn’t do the work of counting calories, and eating enough fruits and veggies, and they tended to be “grab and go” eaters.
I needed to get around that, while making sure I decreased their oxidative stress and inflammation. I started out recommending this method to my “stuck” weight-loss clientele and, now, always mention this as an alternative way to fast for health. I have done enough telomere testing on patients using this versus method #2 to be personally convinced it works. However, this is a small sampling and I do not wish to represent it as a large, double-blind study because it is not.
Use a powdered fruits/veggies drink such as the one I use for oxidative stress as your beverage all day. This will put you into ketosis until dinner. Then have a healthy anti-aging anti-inflammatory dinner at 7 P.M. and you can even have a glass of dry red wine. No calorie counting needed at all!
Then finish up your dinner by 8 PM and eat nothing until you start up with your special drink at 8 A.M. For weight loss, that is all there is to it! Since you are ketotic all day and all night, it speeds up your weight loss. You will just plain not want to eat “junk” for dinner.
If you get a little hungry during the day, the healthiest appetite suppressant is a pharmaceutical grade (always) 5-OH tryptophan supplement of 100-300 mg, which can be taken as much as needed during the day. This cannot be taken if you are on anti-depressants or have bi-polar illness. If this is you, chromium nicotinate is pretty effective too.
This is obviously my personal choice for health-fasting
Because this is so easy and I’m so busy, I like this method the best. Again, there are no clinical trials, just the results from my medical practice and online anti-aging members who just love this method.
I actually do this myself 2x per week as I find it easier to just drink my reds/greens drinks, than following the time restriction approach, due to the variability of my schedule. And wow, this DOES give you energy!
- Want to lose weight? – go with option 1.
- Want optimal health and longevity? – go with option 2, if you want the one with clinical studies.
- Otherwise, go with option 3, and if you want proof, get your telomere length measured!
- If you enjoyed this and more so if you have success with it, I’d love to hear about it!
Wishing you the best of life and health,
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