How does Intermittent fasting work?
Inside: How does Intermittent Fasting Work? Various Intermittent Fasting Health Benefits. 5 Major ways Intermittent fasting works. How Intermittent Fasting improved cell functioning by making it more efficient and resistant
Intermittent Fasting has been gaining a lot of attention in recent years. There are several health benefits that come with Intermittent Fasting. But 5 major ways Intermittent Fasting Works are — Intermittent Fasting — Reduces Inflammation, Metabolic Switch, Improved Mitochondrial Function, Better Cell Resilience, Autophagy!
Now let’s understand how intermittent fasting increases our body’s cell efficiency by woking in the above 5 mentioned ways!
Traditional Fasting has been part of cultural traditions for several centuries now. People were doing it as part of their culture but now the scientific community is looking at its health benefits. Intermittent fasting is thought to be antiaging, helps with weight loss, improve inflammation and other things. The bigger question is that, are these health claims true and how exactly does intermittent fasting work.
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What is Intermittent Fasting and are all the Health Claims True
Intermittent fasting in simple terms means time-restricted eating and fasting.
Intermittent fasting meaning is very simple — you restrict your eating window in a day between certain hours only.
The most popular schedule at this point seems to be 16/8. Where you eat in an 8-hour window during the day and fast for 16 hours in the day.
Now there are other ways of fasting too where people alternate day fasting, or periodically fast during regular intervals like once a week or twice in a week.
In spite of extensive intermittent fasting research; we don’t know exactly what’s the best intermittent fasting diest plan is at this point of time.
But all of these different intermittent fasting diest plans mostly have the same underlying mechanism of action.
Maybe in the future, as we do more intermittent fasting research studies we will know out of all these methods which one works the best.
We do, however, know various intermittent fasting benefits for our health.
Most of you would have heard of intermittent fasting weight loss benefits, or intermittent fasting muscle gain.
But intermittent fasting benefits are not just limited to these vanity metrics. There are a plethora of benefits of intermittent fasting with chronic disease processes as well.
Here are 8 chronic diseases in which intermittent fasting results have surprised healthcare providers —
- Diabetes mellitus
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Autoimmune diseases like MS, RA
- Neurodegenerative diseases like Dementia, Parkinson’s.
How does Intermittent Fasting Work?
So now we know that Intermittent Fasting benefits our heath tremendously. Especially for people with chronic diseases.
But how does intermittent fasting actually work? what’s the underlying mechanism of intermittent fasting.
Initial understanding of intermittent fasting science was that — intermittent fasting has these benefits because it helps people to lose weight.
But with new intermittent fasting research, it has been proven that intermittent fasting works in multiple ways to improve the disease process.
5 Major ways Intermittent fasting works
To answer the major agenda of this discussion of how does intermittent fasting work? — It actually works in 5 different ways to help make your body more efficient and resistant.
- Metabolic Switch to use dual-source of energy
- Improved Mitochondrial Function
- Better Cell Resilience
- Reduces Inflammation
Metabolic Switch as a major Intermittent Fasting Benefit
The two main sources with which our body produces energy are — glucose and another one fatty acids.
When we eat more food than immediately needed, excess glucose from that food is converted to glycogen and fat, which gets stored in the liver and muscles.
Now when there is a scarcity of food this glycogen and fat will be broken down in the form of fatty acids to use for energy.
#MainPoint — Glycogen and fat is broken down into fatty acids and not glucose.
Mankind has access to more food these days as compared to anytime before in history. Our ancestors never had easy access to food all the time.
They had a period of sufficient food but then there will be a time when they had no access to food.
So in early developmental times for humans; there was a frequent switch happening between utilizing glucose as energy and later utilizing fatty acids from glycogen and fat for energy.
This switching between sources of energy has several benefits; eapecially using fatty acids for energy production is very beneficial, which is not facilitated by Intermittent fasting.
Some of the benefits of using fatty acid as energy are:
- Ketones produced from fatty acids are used by the brain and other organs for functioning.
- These fatty acids and ketones are also signaling molecules, for our body, and ketones help increase the efficiency of cell function.
- The metabolic switching helps with improved cell energy efficiency by reduced respiratory-exchange ratio (the ratio of carbon dioxide produced to oxygen consumed)
- They influence major pathways in cellular functioning like PGC-1α, PARP1, CD38, sirtuins, BDNF. And by influencing these pathways the ketones have a major impact on health and aging.
So you see this metabolic switch which can be facilitated by Intermittent fasting, and which was naturally happening on a regular basis in human life before, was very beneficial for better cellular functioning of our body!
In modern times when food is readily available to us all the time, to bring about the benefits of using fatty acids as a source of energy; Intermittent fasting is the best tool for our modern lives!
Intermittent Fasting Improve Mitochondrial Functioning
Intermittent fasting results in improved mitochondrial function, by various methods.
Mitochondria is the powerhouse of your body and is responsible for energy production in your body.
Also, mitochondrial dysfunction is at the core of various autoimmune and chronic disease processes.
Intermittent fasting works by reducing oxidative stress burden on the mitochondria, by regulating cellular pathways. This oxidative burden causes damage to mitochondria thus by reducing the oxidative stress, prevents this damage.
Mitophagy and Autophagy are the other two major benefits of intermittent fasting; which is the process where our body gets rid of defective or damaged mitochondria.
Intermittent fasting also decreases the Mtor protein synthesis pathway, which in recent years has gained attention due to its role in aging, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases.
Intermittent Fasting Improves Cell Resilience
What this means is — Intermittent fasting improves the cell’s ability to handle stress.
For cells the stress comes in all different shapes and sizes like being exposed to inflammatory cytokines, free oxygen species and viral or bacterial infections.
Intermittent fasting reduces the production of free oxygen species, and as well makes changes to DNA repair mechanisms.
All of these underlying changes mentioned above help the body to deal with any potential future threats like free oxygen species, inflammation.
Intermittent Fasting Reduces Inflammation
It has been shown that intermittent fasting initiates ketone production in our body generally starts at about 8 to 12 hour of fasting. However, this can vary in different individuals.
So, the production of ketones takes a long time without food; in other words. The food eaten gives us energy in the form of glucose for all this time. This means, insulin needs to be produced all this time, which ultimately creates inflammation in our body.
This underlying inflammation then leads to further damage in the body and contributes to various disease conditions.
By using ketones as the source of energy for sometime of the day, and from absence of glucose and insulin the inflammation is reduced.
Plus, intermittent fasting also works by reducing other markers of inflammation. Like, intermittent fasting has effects on pathways like NRF2 and SIRT genes which are ultimately responsible for the production of downstream inflammatory markers in the system.
So by positively influencing these genes, intermittent fasting reduces the production of these inflammatory cytokines.
Studies in MS and RA have shown improvement with reduction in inflammatory markers and the same research showed that intermittent fasting can help improve clinical symptoms.
Autophagy is the process where your body gets rid of the defective and damaged cells.
It has become popular because of its recent association with aging.
Autophagy is the process that is naturally present in your body where we get rid of our inefficient cells and also damaged cells so that we can replace them with new efficient cells.
Recent research has associated this the reduction in autophagy process with aging, and also with neurodegenerative diseases.
Intermittent fasting naturally helps your body with the process of autophagy and not only makes your body more efficient but removes defective parts of the body which is causing inflammation.
So you see Intermittent Fasting not only works by having your body to lose some weight. But in fact, intermittent fasting benefits also works in multiple ways to improve health and disease processes.
Intermittent fasting schedule has profound effects on your body health by improving the clearing out process of removing damaged cells (autophagy), and replacing them with healthy ones. Reducing inflammation, improving cell resilience, and most importantly improving mitochondrial function.
In short, intermittent fasting improves your cell functioning by making it more efficient and resistant, which in turn is very efficient in slowing the disease processes of chronic disease!
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Dr. Anshul Gupta MD is Board-Certified Family Medicine Physician, with advanced certification in Functional Medicine, Peptide therapy and also Fellowship trained in Integrative Medicine.Know More