Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting is one of the most popular fitness methods worldwide. This method is adopted with the aim of improving one's health and to simplify the lifestyle. It has powerful effects on our body and brain. It helps us to live a long life.

Intermittent Fasting is one of the most popular fitness methods worldwide. This method is adopted with the aim of improving one's health and to simplify the lifestyle. It has powerful effects on our body and brain. It helps us to live a long life. It is an eating pattern where there is a period of fasting after the period of eating. It consists of two periods - one of reduced or no caloric intake and a period of unrestricted eating. During the fasting period of intermittent fasting, a person eats less than he normally would. This can be done by consuming fewer calories or abstaining from eating during this time altogether. When we do fasting for some time, the cells recycle everything old and useless and become young.
Fasting has been in practice since olden days when people did not have ample food and other working facilities. They were used to going on fast and were living very healthy life. It may be done now a days by following different patterns and intermittent fasting is one of them. 

Intermittent Fasting and Autophagy
Noble Prize Winner's Discovery Nobel prize winner Yoshinori Ohsumi, a Japanese cell biologist researched in 2016 on how cells recycle and renew their content- a process called Autophagy which is known to be triggered by Intermittent Fasting. In Autophagy, cells destroy viruses, bacteria & slow down aging thus enabling fasting a sign of longevity. The Nobel Prize winner's discovery indicates that abstaining from food and keeping fast for few hours is wholesome. The body truly cleans itself. Disrupted autophagy results in many chronic diseases like parkinson's, type-2 diabetes, obesity and cancer.

Different Ways of Intermittent Fasting
People who follow an intermittent fasting regimen define the different types of intermittent fasting based on the ratio of fasting to non-fasting time. These ratios can divide the eating cycle in different ways. Each ratio has benefits and drawbacks so it may be necessary to try a few different approaches before you find one that suits your lifestyle.

Eating Ratios of Intermittent Fasting
1.    Alternate Day Fasting (ADF)

    ADF is defined as a 24-hour period of fasting followed by a 24-hour period of unrestricted eating. This two day cycle is repeated throughout the week.
2.    5:2 Diet
    Followers of the 5:2 approach go five days a week on a normal diet and two days per week fasting. During the fasting portion of the 5:2 approach, dieters may choose to abstain from eating completely or consume 500-600 calories per day.
    You can choose the days of the week you wish to fast, allowing for more flexibility than the alternate day fasting technique. Most of the people choose not to fast for consecutive days. For example, you may fast on Monday (starting after dinner on Sunday) breaking fast Monday night and then again on Thursday (starting after dinner on Wednesday) breaking fast on Thursday night.
3.    Eat, Stop, Eat Approach
    The eat, stop, eat diet is what intermittent fasters call the method of fasting one day per week. An example schedule would be fasting from dinner one day to dinner the next day. A complete fast of 24 hours is what most eat, stop, eat dieters go for.
4.    16:8 Ratio
    The 16:8 ratio consists of a 16 hour fast followed by 8 hours of regular diet. This can be as simple as skipping breakfast every day, eating a normal lunch and dinner, then fasting while you sleep. This ratio is a popular one because it is easy to maintain this schedule.
    A very common window for this style of intermittent fasting is to eat between noon and 8pm and fasting until noon the next day. 
5.    OMAD
    OMAD stands for one meal a day. It is a highly-restrictive version of intermittent fasting where the fasting period lasts 23 hours per day, leaving only a one hour window to consume one meal. People following OMAD are allowed to consume water and calorie-free drinks during fasting periods. 
Diet Window
The time period during which we take the food is the diet window and rest of the period is fasting period. For example if we take breakfast at 8 am and dinner at 8 pm, our diet window is 12 hours. If we go on narrowing this diet window like from 12 hours to 8-10 hours, the risk of having diabetes, obesity or heart diseases also reduces. It is quite hard to narrow the diet window in the beginning, but a week later the body will get used to it, the appetite will be lower, sleep will be better and mind will be cool.
Impact of Intermittent Fasting on our body
Intermittent fasting stabilizes blood sugar level, helps in improving the memory and is a very good way to reduce unwanted body fat. It slows down the aging, enhances the memory and keeps the heart, kidneys and eyes healthy. It is beneficial in stressful conditions and increases the immunity.
Intermittent Fasting and Obesity
Obesity is a growing health challenge that mainly results from an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. People with obesity have a higher chance of developing health problems like high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, heart attacks, joint problems, sleep problems, liver diseases and so on. To get rid of all these obesity related complications, one must be determined for intermittent fasting which is a great tool to combat all of these problems.
When we take the food particularly carbohydrates, they quickly breakdown into simple sugar molecules, which our body cells use for energy. If we don't use these molecules, they are stored in our fat cells and liver as fat. Insulin, a hormone made by pancreas, is responsible for sending these molecules into our cells.
Between our meals when we don't snack, the insulin level goes down and our fat cells release their stored sugar to be used as energy and in this way intermittent fasting controls the release of insulin and allows our body to consume stored fat. Fasting gives a chance to stored fat to be utilized and helps lose overweight.
Intermittent Fasting and Cardiovascular Diseases
Cardiovascular diseases are a serious problem in the modern world. Lack of physical activity, stress and altered eating habits are risk factors for this dreadful disease. The control in risk factors allows a reduction in mortality. The intermittent fasting plays a great role in controlling heart diseases by reducing cholesterol concentration in blood.
Intermittent Fasting and Atherosclerosis (Hard Blood Vessels)
Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of vascular diseases. It is manifested by ischemic heart disease, ischemic stroke and peripheral vascular diseases. It is a factor responsible for most of the deaths from cardiac causes. In atherosclerosis, there is deposition of unhealthy fat i.e. LDL in the walls of vessels making them dysfunctional by causing  inflammation. Intermittent fasting helps in the modification of this deposited hazardous fat. The use of intermittent fasting increases the secretion of adiponectin from adipose tissue. The adiponectin exhibits the anti-atherosclerotic and anti-inflammatory effects.
Intermittent Fasting and Diabetes
Type-2 diabetes represents one of the most significant global health threats of 21st century. Gut represents a vital organ with respect to regulation of glucose metabolism and modulation of risk of type 2 diabetes by restricting the food amount inside the body.
Thus intermittent fasting is an alternative and more physiological way for prediabetics. This approach enables the combination of energy restricted and unrestricted days which is widely accepted. It improves insulin sensitivity and glucose control along with the decrease in body weight and improvement in microvascular complications in diabetes.
Intermittent Fasting and Brain
Intermittent fasting stimulates the production of a protein in nerve cells called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). This protein plays critical roles in learning, memory and generation of new nerve cells. It makes neurons more resistant to stress. It helps in controlling neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. It promotes burning of stored fat which is converted into ketone bodies which are used up by neurons as energy. Ketones promote positive changes in the structure of brain cells.

In all, Intermittent Fasting has an amazing impact in our whole body. While deciding for it, we should not drive too quickly and start slowly and comfortably. It is just an eating pattern that involves a short period of fasting and recommends only when to eat and not what to eat. People like diabetics, pregnant women, lactating women and those who are on prescription medication  are not suitable candidates for Intermittent Fasting.

Dr. Rajni Thakur
Associate Professor, Department of Shalakya Tantra,
Dayanand Ayurvedic College, Jalandhar.
Mob.: 7973197093 drrajnidav@gmail.com