Why do it? Is this just another short-lived dietary fad? If the research I uncovered gets widely disseminated, intermittent fasting might just stick around.
I should state first I do not like starvation diets. I don’t much like ‘dieting’. I have always had the philosophy that if you put enough good satiating nutrients into a person’s diet, the sweet, calorific, ‘nutrient lacking’ foods simply fall away. Trust me – they really can do. However, research has shown that if you occasionally ‘fast’, that is – subject yourself to a (nowadays rare) feeling of hunger, then all sorts of longevity genes get switched on and inflammation is generally reduced.
Inflammation, that’s a big sit up and take note word in the world of nutrition and Functional Medicine. Most of our modern day diseases have a component of inflammation. Heart disease, cancer, the dementias, anxiety and depression, hormonal imbalance, autoimmunity and digestive disturbance, can all be traced back to the inflammatory response. Neuroinflammation is a well established pathology in Alzheimer’s, resulting in brain dysfunction and neuronal cell death, but inflammation is not confined to the brain tissue of its sufferers, who often present with elevated peripheral inflammatory markers too.
So lowering inflammation is invariably and not surprisingly, a therapeutic goal of Nutritional Therapists. All the diverse pathologies that underlie chronic health conditions have an accumulating inflammation secondary to some upstream modifiable lifestyle/dietary choices. That bears repeating, inflammation is invariably the downstream result of various lifestyle or dietary choices that are within our control.
Nutritional Therapists are fortunate to have in their toolbox several proven anti-inflammatories: omega-3 fatty acids, the curcumin extract from the turmeric root, and an obsession with vegetables, which are all extremely anti-inflammatory. Now research is showing that intermittent fasting can be added to that armoury. So if intermittent fasting lowers inflammation and this fact can find its way into the common lexicon, it must surely have the durability to avoid being a fad.
So this weekend, choose a 24 hour period and aim to go 15 hours between supper and breakfast. Break the fast with a large, healthy brunch around 11am, (the full English is ideal), then without snacking in the afternoon, aim for a slap-up dinner 5 or 6 hours later (with lots of vegetables).. If you managed to minimise refined carbohydrates too, you’ve earnt a gold star!