Posts tagged with "Intermittent fasting"

Can intermittent fasting improve your health?

November 23, 2018

According to research by the Calorie Control Council, a typical Thanksgiving dinner can carry a load of 3,000 calories. That’s about 500 more calories than most Americans eat in a whole day—and also about 500 more than it takes to gain one pound.

And that’s also why, on the day after the holiday, many of us might be wondering about the pros and cons of intermittent fasting—one of the buzziest diets out there right now. After all, why diet diligently all week when you can drop the excess weight by skipping food entirely just two or three days out of seven?

Fans of this form of dieting say they have lost as much as 8% of their body weight within eight weeks by cutting calories by 20% every other day. They also say they are healthier and have less inflammation.

WebMD theorizes that the possible secret behind the diet’s health benefits is that fasting puts mild stress on your body’s cells. Scientists think that the process of responding to this stress can strengthen the cells’ ability to fight off some diseases—even disorders as serious as heart disease and cancer.

But are these claims legit? Honestly, researchers say, not enough is known yet to confirm whether fasting is advisable or not.

As Liz Weinandy, a staff dietitian at the Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, admitted to Men’s Health magazine in a recent interview, ““I don’t think anybody knows.This is all preliminary.”

In fact, the magazine says, most of the press coverage of intermittent fasting and its purported immune system benefits has focused on just one study: In 2014, Valter Longo— a professor of Gerontology and the director of the USC Longevity Institute—found that cycles of a four-day low-calorie diet that mimicked fasting (FMD) cut visceral belly fat and elevated the number of progenitor and stem cells in several organs of older mice—including the brain, where it boosted neural regeneration and improved learning and memory.

The test was part of a three-tiered study on periodic fasting’s effects—involving yeast, mice, and humans— o be published by the journal Cell Metabolism in June 2015.

Longo and his team had both mice and human cancer patients fast for four days. During the fast, both the mice and the cancer patients discarded old blood cells; once the fast was broken, their bodies produced shiny, new cells to take the place of discarded ones, thus effectively regenerating their immune systems.

In fact, Longo found, in the pilot human trial, three cycles of a similar diet given to 19 subjects once a month for five days decreased risk factors and biomarkers for aging, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer with no major adverse side effects.

Results of of the study led the USC team to conclude that prolonged periods of fasting could reduce the harsh side effects of chemotherapy for cancer patients—in fact, some patients are already trying this on their own, based on a story posted this year by U.S. News & World Report)—or even boost immunity for healthy people.

A 2015 study by Yale Medical School went one further, finding that hat a compound produced by the body when dieting or fasting can block a part of the immune system involved in several inflammatory disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Convinced and ready to start? First, read a few cautions from Men’s Health.

First, most intermittent fasting plans recommend not eating between 16 to 24 hours— a much shorter period of time than the four-day fast in Longo’s study. For this reason, Longo says it’s unlikely that his study has any long-term implications about the health benefits of intermittent fasting.

Your body won’t eliminate old cells “until two, three, or four days into the fasting,” he told the magazine. “It takes even longer for the system to start really breaking down muscle, breaking down immune cells, breaking down different tissues.”

Indeed, the report says, future studies will require a broader sample size than Longo’s, so we can determine how fasting affects different groups of people —for instance, the elderly, or diabetes patients, or those with low-functioning immune systems.

What’s more, if you have an active lifestyle, cut back on exercising because fasting could potentially drain your stores of sodium and potassium—two electrolytes that are essential for kidney, heart, and muscle function.

And finally, don’t forget to drink. Water is always a great choice, all day, every day. Sparkling water is fine—but don’t use artificial sweeteners. They will wreak havoc on your insulin levels and defeat your end purposes entirely.

Research contact: melissa.matthews@hearst.com

Making a ‘fast’ buck in Silicon Valley

April 27, 2018

Many Americans are “on the fast track” today—at least intermittently.  Each week, they eat for a few days and fast for a few days in order to lose weight and “purify” their digestive systems.

And those who practice intermittent fasting say it helps them to lose as much as 3% to 8% of their overall weight, Bloomberg reports, as well as 4% to 7% of their waist circumference, over periods between three and 24 weeks.

Indeed, according to a 2017 report by CNN, “Intermittent or alternate-day fasting requires routinely alternating between eating little or no food and then feasting in your daily diet. It has become a growing weight loss trend in the USA, the UK and other regions around the world.”

And although there are no data on how many people have tried fasting, several celebrities praise the practice, Longevity reports—among them, Miranda Kerr, Liv Tyler, Christy Turlington, Ben Affleck, Beyonce and Hugh Jackman.

What’s more, monthly Google searches for “intermittent fasting,” which has become a catchall term for various forms of the practice, have risen tenfold over the past three years, to as many as one million.

It also has caught on in a big way in Silicon Valley, the high-tech bastion near San Francisco. Like most of the health fads that sweep through the valley, this one broke through thanks to word-of-mouth—and a Medium website post.

Entrepreneur Sumaya Kazi told the site’s 650,000 readers that she had dropped 50 pounds on the regimen, while venture capitalist Phil Libin and others preached about it to anyone who would listen, Bloomberg states.

Indeed, Bloomberg notes, a number of meal programs have sprung up in Silicon Valley, in an attempt to profit off fasting—among them:

  • Plate Joy, a $230-a-year meal-plan subscription app that is part of a diabetes prevention program, and has attracted about 20 million followers to its site;.
  • HVMN, a ketone drink formerly known as Nootrobox, which has attracted more than $5 million in venture backing from the likes of former Yahoo! Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer and Zynga founder Mark Pincus;. And
  • ProLon, a very-low-calorie, five-day, $250 diet package that is supposed to mimic the effects of a fast—and includes small portions of soups, drink mixes, breakfast bars, vitamin supplements, and even desserts.

Should you try it? Lauren Smolar, director of programs at the National Eating Disorders Association, thinks the answer is no. “We consistently see cases where people have tried to control their intake of food, and it’s led to an eating disorder,” she told Bloomberg, adding, “There ends up being this kind of reward feeling they’re going through, which triggers them to continue on this diet. And slowly this feeling of losing control, and not being able to know when to stop, can occur.”

 The bottom line, according to Bloomberg: Startups focused on time-restricted feeding and low-calorie meal regimens plan to expand aggressively, but they may be a bit too far ahead of the science.

Research contact: inquiry1@bloomberg.net