Can changing your diet slow the aging process?
Intermittent fasting is the number one diet in the world right now and the proven health benefits go far beyond reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Research findings reveal that intermittent fasting helps to lower heart disease, chronic disease and can reverse Type 2 diabetes. However, research also supports that the role intermittent fasting has to play in the anti-aging process may well be significant, and could offer additional benefits for menopausal women.
Why intermittent fasting?
It’s well known that intermittent fasting is a popular and, experts claim, effective way of reducing your weight and keeping it off. When compared to traditional methods of weight loss, it’s easy to understand why so many people are adopting it not only as a diet, but as a way of life.
Intermittent fasting is a form of ‘part-time’ dieting, a way of eating whereby you only fast for certain hours of the day (meal skip), or days of the week (low cal days), then eat normally the rest of the time. As a result, the common diet pitfall of going on / going off a diet are avoided, as that is essentially what intermittent fasting is.
Consequently, intermittent fasting has been proven to produce greater effects on weight control and weight loss long-term than traditional diet methods, as many participants enjoy the idea of not having to diet every day.
Not only is it proven to be sustainable, the positive medical impact of intermittent fasting goes way beyond the usual benefits of weight loss which are, in themselves, significant.
The medical benefits of weight loss
It is a well-known fact that being overweight can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease and that it can reduce life-span.
The good news is that even short term weight loss can improve your health, continuing for as long as you keep it off. As little as a 5-10% reduction in weight can enhance your health significantly. Reductions in cholesterol, fatty glycerides and insulin levels, and improved blood pressure, joint pain, energy and breathing levels can result for a start. The American National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute affirms that it can lower the risk of heart disease and other conditions. Statistics show that it can also dramatically decrease your risk of cancer.
The additional medical benefits of intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting not only helps participants to lose weight and enjoy all the health benefits that entails, it also has a wide range of health benefits of its own. It’s especially notable that fasting can further reduce insulin levels and help to reverse Type 2 Diabetes. Studies also show that it supports a healthy metabolism as opposed to other forms of dieting, facilitates fat burning and muscle gain, induces cellular repair, improves heart health and protects against disease, including further reducing the risk of some cancers and tumour growth.
The role intermittent fasting has to play in the anti-aging process
There are several reasons that intermittent fasting is being linked to anti-aging, from its sustainability to it unique effects on the body at cellular level. Some of the most significant findings can be explained as follows:
1. LONG TERM SUCCESS. The ability of participants being able to stick to intermittent fasting long-term plays a significant role in its effectiveness in anti-aging. Aging begins when DNA begins to degrade and break down and cells become damaged, leading to chronic disease. Weight loss helps to slow down both of these developments. The longer you can adhere to caloric restriction, the longer you will keep these two aging processes at bay.
2. CELLULAR PROTECTION AND REPAIR. Fasting increases the body’s levels of antioxidants, protecting the body from free radicals which can cause damage to cells at molecular level. Fasting also helps the body to remove harmful waste via autophagy, a self-cleansing process that clears out the old cells and proteins and heralds in the new. Autophagy helps to maintain your blood sugar levels, keeps your brain healthy and even promotes healthier, younger-looking skin.
3. DNA PROTECTION AND REPAIR. By slowing down the deterioration of DNA and helping it to repair, fasting assists in preventing the aging process. Every living thing contains DNA which acts like tiny molecules of programming within your body. Over the years, our DNA has to weather attack from toxins, pollution, radiation and our own bodily processes.
Our younger bodies tend to be proficient at protecting our DNA but the damage builds up as we age and we become less able to protect it. Fasting reduces oxidative damage to DNA and produces compounds that promote longer life whilst reducing compounds that promote disease, including cancer. Coupled with:
- regular good sleep,
- eating a diet high in anti-antioxidants, lower in fats and calories and
- avoiding overexposure to the sun
Intermittent fasting will greatly improve your DNA protection and can lead to a longer, healthier life.
4. SUPERCHARGES METABOLISM. Unlike some other forms of dieting, intermittent fasting supports a healthy metabolism, causing the body’s efficiency in burning calories and breaking down nutrients to increase. When you are fasting you are essentially triggering a metabolic switch in your body. Instead of using energy from glucose you are using energy from the body’s storage system, burning fat. This state is known as ‘ketosis’ as your body produces more keytones. Keytone-based energy offers increased resistance to stress which can lead to less disease and increased longevity.
5. HORMONES. Insulin levels drop when you do intermittent fasting and you gain higher levels of human growth hormones which both aid in fat burning. You also have improved muscle growth, keeping you feeling stronger and younger.
6. REDUCES CHRONIC INFLAMMATION. Intermittent fasting has been proven to reduce chronic inflammation and pain, improving both quality of life and lifespan.
7. BRAIN FUNCTION. Intermittent fasting improves the generation of nerve cells which in turn improves brain function and cognitive processing. Consequently you could feel sharper – and younger. Further studies have shown that by increasing your glucose disposal through intermittent fasting you could well be preventing cognitive decline by up to 60%, helping to prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
The role intermittent fasting has to play in menopause
As women age, hormone production ages with them, resulting in a loss of progesterone and estrogen. This can result in weight gain and mental health changes. Intermittent fasting aids in menopausal symptoms in the following ways:
- MENOPAUSAL WEIGHT GAIN. Intermittent fasting is ideal for menopausal weight gain as women tend to put on weight around their middle – 5kgs on average during this stage of life. Intermittent fasting actual targets weight gain around the mid-section, particularly belly fat and visceral fat around vital organs. As such, you could reverse the apple body curse of menopause and get your waistline back.
- MENTAL HEALTH CHANGES. Menopause can come with a range of mental health challenges, includes anxiety and depression, mood swings, irritability, stress, lower self-esteem and fatigue. One of the benefits of intermittent fasting is that it’s been shown produce positive mood shifts, increasing self-esteem and reducing depression and stress levels. It can also reduce brain fog and aids in getting a good night’s sleep.
Intermittent fasting is a proven and effective method of managing a healthy weight, both in the short term and long term, but it is also beneficial in maintaining your health overall. Research supports the positive effects fasting can have in slowing the aging process and on menopausal symptoms, making it the ideal choice for women in their 40’s and beyond.