Most people have been on a diet at some stage in their lives. In fact, many people have destroyed their metabolism through yo-yo dieting. Research has shown that dieting creates more weight gain. In fact 89% of people who diet regain all of their weight and more. Incorrect yo-yo dieting destroys metabolism and can lead to chronic illnesses such as type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease. Fasting has been a part of the human existence since human time began. We are hunter-gatherers and have survived during long periods without food. Fasting for religious observances exists in all religions and continues today.
Fasting has become a popular idea/notion recently. Many people are trying to embrace this popular trend but not doing it correctly. There are 2 types of fasting most commonly known is intermittent fasting. Possibly the most researched is the fasting mimicking diet which obtained its evidence from studying populations around the world who lived the longest. In other words the centenarians. Its evidence is grounded in studying what these people are eating and how are they eating that has increased their lifespan way above the normal western lifespan. This has been tested in nutritional science both from the epidemiological perspective and from human clinical trials This is the science of Gerontology, longevity, healthy ageing disease free.
This research is mostly founded in food and nutrients that prevent ageing. The results of that research are that fasting increases our lifespan and staves off chronic illness. Much of the research is on the immunological protective effects of eating in this manner. It has also been shown to confer huge cognitive protection by facilitating neurogenesis. In other words, it increases the production of neurons in the brain and protects the brain from ageing, inflammation and brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer's and Dementia. This is evidence-based in clinical trials and has identified the major risks associated with the 'high protein diets' which are advocated by the fitness industry.
The second type of fasting is called time restricted fasting this is gaining popularity and is often called the 5/2 diet. Personally I am not a fan of this (I find it gimicky!) as people tend to fast and then on the days that they can 'eat what they like', they eat all the wrong foods which hijacks the immune system, increases inflammation etc. Food choices and timing are crucial to sustain energy levels. We are bombarded with conflicting confusing nutritional information which is causing difficulty when making food choices. Hopefully our discussion will demystify some of the nonsense about what is the best way to eat.
Intermittent fasting if done correctly does benefit the immune system, can help stave off Cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, inflammatory illnesses, support a healthy weight, protect the brain from age related disease and epidemiologically has been shown to decrease the incidence and prevalence of cancers. However, it is tricky and needs support. Embarking on this regime requires planning.
Furthermore, fasting is not for everyone across the lifecourse. Certain groups such as children, adolescents, pregnant and lactating women, people suffering with anxiety and depression should not engage in this. People who suffer with digestive health issues (massive numbers in Ireland) will also struggle to implement this regime effectively without affecting their symptoms. Over the age of 65 it is not recommended to embark on this at all as this is the time when most muscle is lost and the body metabolises food in a very different way. In fact it is important to increase protein in the diet at this age and specific types of protein. The genetics of ageing is grounded in the new area of science called Epigenetics which simply means how the environment in which the genes are bathed has the ability to switch on certain longevity genes and switch on ageing genes. Similarly, Nutrigenomics is the science of how certain nutrients such as sugar and proteins switch on pro-ageing inflammatory proteins and metabolites.
It is all very interesting as we know that nutrition has the most incredible effect on the human lifespan and the onset of diseases which are bankrupting our health services. We can flesh it all out tomorrow evening!! (pardon the pun)