Intermittent fasting is a natural process that allows us to survive periods of famine. Just think about ancient humans; we never used to have 24/7 access to food.
Like recharding when we sleep, our body uses these pauses from eating to be holistically healthy. Studies have shown that it can have significant benefits for natural weight loss and self-healing of our body and brain. It can even help us dodge some diseases.
Here are some of the many benefits of IF:
Weight loss: IF can help us become more aware of what we eat, regulate our appetite, and burn fat without restricting what we eat. (1, 2)
Blood sugar regulation: When we take a break from eating, we allow our blood sugar and insulin (a hormone which brings blood sugar into our cells for energy) to regulate. Studies have shown that IF can lower blood sugar by 3-6% and insulin levels by 20-31%, which may protect against conditions like type 2 diabetes. (1)
Decreased inflammation: Some research shows a reduction in inflammation in the body, a cause of many chronic diseases. (1, 2, 3)
Heart health: Fasting can reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL), inflammation, blood sugar and insulin resistance (when our body doesn’t respond to insulin). These are all possible causes of heart disease. (1, 2, 3)
Cell strength: Fasting can help our cells naturally renew (autophagy) and slow aging. Some animal studies suggest that IF may aid in preventing cancer. (1, 2, 3, 4)
Mental well-being: In addition to enhanced mental clarity and improved mood, IF increases a brain hormone (BDNF) which keeps our brain cells healthy. It may also protect against brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. (1, 2, 3, 4)
Keep in mind that research on intermittent fasting is still at an early and exciting stage. Many of the studies have been small or short-term . More high-quality human studies should be done in order to make strong and scientifically-backed health claims (1).