Intermittent fasting could be part of a healthy lifestyle
Kathmandu, December 27
A professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Mark Mattson claimed that intermittent fasting could be part of a healthy lifestyle.
In a review article published in the December 26, 2019 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine neuroscientist Mark Mattson, Ph.D., said intermittent fasting diets fall generally into two categories: daily time-restricted feeding, which narrows eating times to 6-8 hours per day, and so-called 5:2 intermittent fasting, in which people limit themselves to one moderate-sized meal two days each week.
An array of animal and some human studies have shown that alternating between times of fasting and eating supports cellular health, probably by triggering an age-old adaptation to periods of food scarcity called metabolic switching. Such a switch occurs when cells use up their stores of rapidly accessible, sugar-based fuel, and begin converting fat into energy in a slower metabolic process.
Mattson, who has studied the health impact of intermittent fasting for 25 years, and adopted it himself about 20 years ago, said studies have shown that this switch improves blood sugar regulation, increases resistance to stress and suppresses inflammation. Because most Americans eat three meals plus snacks each day, they do not experience the switch, or the suggested benefits, as per Science Daily.
He also noted that four studies in both animals and people found intermittent fasting also decreased blood pressure, blood lipid levels and resting heart rates.
Mattson also claimed that there were evidences that intermittent fasting could modify risk factors associated with obesity and diabetes.
Studies at the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust among 100 overweight women showed that those on the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet lost the same amount of weight as women who restricted calories, but did better on measures of insulin sensitivity and reduced belly fat than those in the calorie-reduction group.
Not only that, Mattson also claimed that preliminary studies suggest that intermittent fasting could benefit brain health too. A multicenter clinical trial at the University of Toronto in April found that 220 healthy, nonobese adults who maintained a calorie restricted diet for two years showed signs of improved memory in a battery of cognitive tests.
However, Mattson acknowledged that researchers do "not fully understand the specific mechanisms of metabolic switching and that "some people are unable or unwilling to adhere" to the fasting regimens. But he argued that with guidance and some patience, most people could incorporate them into their lives. It takes some time for the body to adjust to intermittent fasting, and to get beyond initial hunger pangs and irritability that accompany it. "Patients should be advised that feeling hungry and irritable is common initially and usually passes after two weeks to a month as the body and brain become accustomed to the new habit," said Mattson as quoted by Science Today.