Longevity and Fasting

Longevity 129
Longevity 129

There’s been a lot of talk recently about fasting – intermittent fasting in particular – and its various health benefits. While the main reason people participate in fasting is to lose weight, according to WebMD, there are certain types of fasting that may help improve cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose levels, insulin sensitivity and other health issues.

What is intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting means interval eating, so you eat in an eight-hour window and fast for the other 16 hours. Prolonged fasting means not eating for at least 36 hours. It’s all about meal-timing schedules that cycle between voluntary fasting and non-fasting over a given period. Methods of intermittent fasting include alternate-day fasting, periodic fasting such as the 5:2 diet, and daily time-restricted eating. It’s a practice that’s been going on for centuries and continues to play a major role in certain cultures and religions.

Can fasting improve your overall health? And might it even lead to living a longer life? In a recent article on the Healthline website, it was purported that there could be a lot of benefits to fasting, such as improving blood sugar control, which may be helpful for those at risk of developing diabetes (a 2023 study of 209 people found that intermittent fasting three days per week could reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity). It also helps fight inflammation (research shows that inflammation may be involved in the development of chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis). It can improve cardiovascular health (heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, accounting for an estimated 19 million deaths globally in 2020; switching up your diet and lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of heart disease). It could boost brain function and it encourages weight loss by limiting calorie intake and upping your metabolism.

Another study, which came out earlier this year from the University of Utah’s Department of Nutrition and Integrative Physiology, cited that time-restricted feeding or eating is a novel intervention into longevity in which nutrients are consumed within a consistent window of eight-10 hours each day, resulting in improvements in exercise capacity, endurance, motor co-ordination, sleep, blood pressure, liver triglycerides, plasma lipids, cardiac function and gut health. As people become more mindful about the types of foods that they are eating, intermittent fasting can help protect different organs from disease. There is considerable evidence that maintaining this diet can prevent, and may even reverse some chronic diseases, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and age-related neurological disorders. These benefits may be associated with molecular changes that occur in multiple organs throughout the body.

Finally, an article on the Zero health website stated that intermittent fasting can be an excellent way to reduce overall oxidative stress, which could damage your DNA and cause you to age faster. In a three-year study of adults older than 60 years, intermittent fasting just a couple of times a week was shown to not only naturally lessen inflammation and boost natural anti-aging processes, but to also reduce oxidative stress markers by 25-31%. In a nutshell, intermittent fasting helps protect your DNA and thereby promotes longevity at the cellular level.

For many people, intermittent fasting can be an effective way to manage their weight and realize all of the health benefits that come along with that. However, it should be noted that this type of diet may not be safe for everyone, especially those diagnosed with diabetes or those who have a history of eating disorders. While recent findings are promising, the long-term effects of intermittent fasting in humans are yet to be fully understood. However, there is already enough evidence to support the idea that there can be concrete health benefits to intermittent fasting.

By Jennifer Cox