A lot of medical doctors are very critical of fasting, whether it be for religious reasons or any kind of cleanse or detoxification program. According to alternative physician, Dr. Mercola, fasting can have tremendous benefits when timed right and allowing specific periods of fasting. This is called intermittent fasting.
The concern that most people have with fasting is that when you starve your body by withholding food for long periods of time, your body has a natural survival mechanism in which it starts to slow down your metabolism. When you finally eat again, the body then has a slow metabolism and you gain back any weight that you have lost because your body is working in survival mode.
While fasting has long gotten a bumm rap for being one of the more torturous ways to battle the bulge, it really doesn’t have to be an arduous affair. We’re NOT talking about starving yourself for days on end. Simply restricting your daily eating to a narrower window of time of say 6-8 hours, you can reap the benefits without the suffering. This equates to 16-18 hours worth of fasting each and every day — enough to get your body to shift into fat-burning mode.
Many studies have evaluated daily intermittent fasting, and the results are compellingly positive. Three major mechanisms by which fasting benefits your body, as it extends lifespan and protects against disease, include:
- Increased insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial energy efficiency – Fasting increases insulin sensitivity along with mitochondrial energy efficiency, and thereby retards aging and disease, which are typically associated with loss of insulin sensitivity and declined mitochondrial energy.
- Reduced oxidative stress – Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative radicals in the cell, and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease.
- Increased capacity to resist stress, disease and aging – Fasting induces a cellular stress response (similar to that induced by exercise) in which cells up-regulate the expression of genes that increase the capacity to cope with stress and resist disease and aging.