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10 science-based health benefits of intermittent fasting

10 wissenschaftlich basierte Gesundheitsvorzüge von Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a dietary pattern in which you alternate periodically between fasting and eating phases. Numerous studies have shown that this diet can have significant benefits for the body and brain.

Here are 10 science-based health benefits of intermittent fasting.

1. intermittent fasting changes the function of cells, genes and hormones

When you don't eat for a period of time, several things happen in your body. Among other things, your body initiates important cellular repair processes and changes its hormone levels to make stored fat more accessible.

Here are some of the changes that take place in your body during fasting:

  • Insulin levels: insulin blood levels drop significantly, which promotes fat burning (1).
  • Growth hormones: Blood levels of growth hormones can increase fivefold (2, 3). Higher levels of this hormone promote fat burning and muscle tissue building and have numerous other benefits (4, 5).
  • Cellular repair: The body induces important cellular repair processes, including the removal of waste products from cells (6).
  • Gene expression: Beneficial changes occur in various genes and molecules that are associated with longevity and protection against disease (7, 8).

Many of the benefits of intermittent fasting are linked to changes in hormones, gene expression and cell function.

Summary: When you fast, your insulin levels decrease while your growth hormone levels increase. In addition, your cells initiate important cellular repair processes and changes in genes.

2. intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat

Many of the people who practice intermittent fasting do so to lose weight (9). In general, intermittent fasting will result in you eating fewer meals per day. Unless you compensate by eating more at other meals, you will end up eating fewer calories.

In addition to this, intermittent fasting improves hormone function to promote weight loss. Lower insulin levels, higher growth hormone levels and increased levels of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) all increase the breakdown of body fat and promote its use to fuel the body.

For this reason, short-term fasting increases your metabolic rate by 3.6 to 14%, which helps you burn more calories (10, 11). In other words, intermittent fasting works on both sides of the calorie equation. It increases your metabolic rate (increased calorie expenditure) and reduces the amount of food you eat (reduced calorie intake).

According to a 2014 study review, intermittent fasting can cause weight loss of 3 to 8% within 3 to 24 weeks (12), which is a huge amount (12). The subjects in these studies also lost 4 to 7% of their waist circumference, indicating that they lost a lot of belly fat. Belly fat is the harmful fat in the abdomen that can promote numerous diseases.

A study review also showed that intermittent fasting resulted in less muscle loss than continuous calorie restriction (13).

All in all, intermittent fasting can be a very effective weight loss tool. Summary: Intermittent fasting can help you consume fewer calories while increasing your metabolic rate. It is also an effective tool for reducing belly fat.

3. intermittent fasting can reduce existing insulin resistance and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes has become a widespread disease over the last few decades. This condition involves high blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance. Anything that can reduce existing insulin resistance should help to lower blood glucose levels and protect against type 2 diabetes.

Interestingly, intermittent fasting has been shown to have great benefits in the presence of insulin resistance and can lead to impressive reductions in blood glucose levels (12). In human studies on intermittent fasting, blood glucose levels decreased by 3 to 5%, while insulin levels decreased by 20-31% in the fasting state (12).

In a study conducted with diabetic rats, it was shown that intermittent fasting can protect against kidney damage, which is one of the most serious complications of diabetes (13).

All this implies that intermittent fasting could protect people with an increased risk of diabetes from developing type 2 diabetes. However, there may be some differences between the sexes here. A study conducted with female subjects showed that blood glucose control had worsened after 22 days of intermittent fasting (14).

Summary: Intermittent fasting can - at least in men - reduce existing insulin resistance and lower blood glucose levels.

4 Intermittent fasting can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body

Oxidative stress is one of the steps towards ageing and numerous chronic diseases (14). It involves unstable molecules called free radicals that can react with and damage other important molecules (such as proteins in DNA) (15).

Several studies have shown that intermittent fasting may increase the body's resistance to oxidative stress (16, 17). In addition, studies show that intermittent fasting can help fight inflammation, which is another driving force in all kinds of common diseases (17m, 18, 19).

Summary: Studies show that intermittent fasting can reduce oxidative damage and inflammation. This should have benefits in protecting against aging and the development of numerous diseases.

5 Intermittent fasting could have a positive effect on heart health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide (20). Different health markers (called risk factors) are known to be associated with either an increased or decreased risk of heart disease.

Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce numerous risk factors including blood pressure, total and LDL cholesterol, blood lipid levels, inflammatory markers and blood glucose levels (12, 21, 22, 23).

However, a lot of these results are based on studies conducted with animals. The effects of intermittent fasting on heart health in humans therefore need to be investigated further before recommendations can be made.

Summary: Studies show that intermittent fasting may reduce numerous risk factors for heart disease.

6. intermittent fasting induces numerous cellular repair processes

When we fast, the cells in our body initiate a cellular waste removal process called autophagy (7, 24). This process involves the breakdown and metabolism of defective and dysfunctional proteins that accumulate within cells over time.

Increased autophagy may offer protection against numerous diseases including cancer and Alzheimer's disease (25, 26).

Summary: Fasting stimulates a metabolic pathway called autophagy, which removes waste products from cells.

7 Intermittent fasting may help protect against cancer

Cancer is a serious disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth. Fasting has been shown to have several positive effects on metabolism that could lead to a reduced risk of cancer.

Although further human studies are needed, promising results from animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may help protect against cancer (27, 28, 29, 30).

There is also evidence from studies with cancer patients suggesting that fasting may reduce some side effects of chemotherapy (31).

Summary: Animal studies have shown that intermittent fasting may help protect against cancer. Human studies suggest a reduction in side effects of chemotherapy through intermittent fasting.

8. intermittent fasting is good for the brain

What's good for the body is often good for the brain. Intermittent fasting improves various metabolic properties that are known to be important for brain health. This includes a reduction in oxidative stress, reduced inflammation, a lowering of blood sugar levels and a reduction in existing insulin resistance.

Several studies conducted with rats have shown that intermittent fasting could promote the growth of nerve cells, which should have positive effects on brain function (32, 33). Intermittent fasting also increases levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) (32, 34, 35). A lack of BDNF is associated with depression and various other brain problems (36).

Studies carried out on animals also show that intermittent fasting could also protect against brain damage caused by strokes (37).

Summary: Intermittent fasting could have important benefits for brain health. It could increase the growth of neurons and protect against brain damage.

9 Intermittent fasting could help prevent Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world. There is currently no cure, which is why preventing the disease in the first place is crucial.

A study conducted with rats showed that intermittent fasting can delay the development of Alzheimer's or reduce the severity of the disease (38). In a series of case studies, an intervention involving daily short-term fasting was able to significantly improve the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease in 9 out of 10 patients (39).

Studies conducted in animals also suggest that fasting may protect against other neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson's and Huntington's disease (40, 41).

However, in all cases mentioned, further human studies are needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn.

Summary: Studies conducted in animals suggest that intermittent fasting may protect against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. 10.

10. intermittent fasting could help you live longer

One of the most exciting applications of intermittent fasting could be its ability to extend lifespan.

Studies conducted with rats have shown that intermittent fasting could extend lifespan in a similar way to continuous calorie restriction (42, 43). In some of these studies, the effects were quite dramatic. In one study, rats that fasted throughout the day lived 83% longer than rats that did not fast (44).

Although we are still a long way from proving this in humans, intermittent fasting has become very popular with anti-ageing devotees. Considering the known benefits on metabolism and all kinds of health markers, it makes sense that intermittent fasting could help you live a longer and healthier life.




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