Is intermediate fasting a healthy lifestyle?

    Posted on Thursday, Dec 05, 2019
    We are all aware of the importance of keeping a healthy life style. Doing exercise and eating healthy are the basic pillars of well-being. There are many diets nowadays available to  us, and they all share similar values, such as quality ingredients and reduced calorie intake. A new trend is arising on nutrition world, intermediate fasting. In this blog I explain the effect of intermediate fasting on our organism and why this tendency is not as crazy as it sounds for keeping a healthy lifestyle.
     
    Fasting is described as the lack of food intake during a specific period of time. While in our society is not part of any routine, in the Islamic culture, Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and the holy month of fasting. Muslim communities are not allowed to eat during the day while in Ramadan, but they can do so at night. This kind of fasting during that holiday event can be understood as intermediate fasting, which is the lack of eating during a period of 12-24 hours.
     
    Even though the idea of fasting does not sound appealing, there are many benefits associated with it. Fasting  leads to faster fat burning. While we eat, a hormone called insulin  is in charge of moving excess sugars into fat cells for storage. Therefore not eating during a specific period of time (like proposed on intermediate fasting) will lead to a lower insulin produced and the use of fat as the main source of energy to keep your body working.
     
    Further research also shows that fasting can increase lifespan. As I have previously blogged, lifespan is associated with telomere length. Telomeres are DNA repeats at the end of the chromosomes that protect the integrity of the rest of your genetic material. They are often understood as the tip of the shoelace, or aglet, where the shoe lace represents your chromosome. Long telomeres lead to a longer cell life, while short telomeres lead to apoptosis or cell death. Different studies show that decreasing food intake leads to a reduced telomere length erosion, which translates into a longer lifespan.
     
    Furthermore,  reduced  food intake leads to  activation of DNA repair mechanism. The excess of energy that your body has when you do not eat (that otherwise you would use in digestion), it is repurposed into fixing the numerous lesions that your genetic material suffers every second. Interestingly enough, chromosome ends or telomeres, are a hotspot for genetic lesions, as they work as a buffer to protect the rest of genetic material.
     
    Therefore, this new nutrition trend called intermediate fasting, has scientific validity behind it that leads to a better lifestyle. Reduction of food leads to the use of fat as energy source,  decreased insulin levels,  increase in DNA repair mechanism that fix lesions on your genetic material, and longer telomere length that has a correlation with prolonged lifespan. According to experts,  performing intermediate fasting once a week, will lead to some of this benefits to start showing. So after knowing all of this there is only one questions left; What day will you pick to fast?

    ---Borja Barbero Barcenilla
    Borja Barbero Barcenilla is a doctoral student in the Department of Biochemistry


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