Intermittent fasting will not only add years to your life, but life to your years. Many important bio-markers associated with aging, are significantly reduced through intermittent fasting. (1)
The universal, age-old pursuit, is the fountain of youth. In 1513 Ponce De Leon landed in St. Augustine Florida in pursuit of it. Of course, he didn’t find what he was looking for. However, if ever there was an actual fountain of youth, it would have to be intermittent fasting.
In This Post You’ll Learn How Intermittent Fasting Can:
- Reduce oxidative stress (a key factor in aging)
- Increase human growth hormone levels (the “youth” hormone)
- Enhance cellular detoxification
- Reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer…..
One of the biggest contributors to accelerated aging, including: thin, wrinkled skin, decreased mental capacity, reduced mobility, and more, is free radical formation. Another term for free radical, is reactive oxygen species or ROS. They’re the same thing.
Intermittent fasting slows the aging process, by helping the body combat free radicals. What’s a free radical? It’s an unstable atom that has one or more unpaired electrons. They’re formed as a by-product of cellular respiration, toxin exposure, and stress.
Free radicals have a biochemical thirst for their missing electron. They quenched their thirst, by stealing an electron from nearby cells. This causes a domino effect of damage to protein, and DNA molecules. (2)
Excess free radicals in your system, contribute to accelerated aging, and a whole host of chronic degenerative diseases. (3) We can consume foods high in anti-oxidants such as: blueberries, grapes, or kale. By the way, perhaps the most potent dietary antioxidant is water. See my post: 5 Steps To Smarter Hydration.
However, dietary anti-oxidants aren’t nearly as effective as your body’s own natural defense against reactive oxygen species. By far, the best defense against free radicals is your body’s own endogenous (formed from within) antioxidant enzymes, especially: glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase. (4) (5)
Intermittent fasting helps boost production of these enzymes. (6) In terms of graceful aging, reducing free radical formation is a major player. Intermittent fasting will supercharge your ability to deal with free radical formation.
The Youth Hormone
Another way fasting helps us become more youthful is it stimulates endogenous production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). HGH is often called the “youth” hormone. Kids have lots of it.
HGH helps your body to build muscle and burn fat. (7) I don’t have to tell you what more muscle and less body fat does for your appearance. This alone, will turn back the clock.
However, the benefits don’t end there. The body uses proteins to repair tissue collagen, which improves the functionality, and strength of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. HGH also improves skin function, reduces wrinkles & heals cuts and burns faster. (8)
Intermittent fasting can boost your bodies natural, endogenous HGH production. One study found that men that had fasted for 24 hours had a 2,000% increase in circulating HGH! (9)
You’ve probably already guessed that I’m opposed to artificial hormone replacement therapy or HRT. HRT has been shown to increase the risk of: breast cancer, atherosclerosis, dementia, heart disease and stroke. (10) As a naturopath, I believe in letting the body choose how to balance it’s hormones naturally.
It seems that the hormone levels that help young people mature into adults, are detrimental to health in older people. Our bodies have a built-in intelligence that’s far better than any man-made formula. Our bodies bring certain hormone levels down with age, because its in our best interest to do so.
But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give our bodies a chance to do their jobs more efficiently. What if 3 or more meals per day, every day lowered your growth hormone levels more than your body would prefer? I believe this is the case.
Intermittent fasting is part of our divine design, and helps us to age gracefully.
Enhanced Cellular Repair
Intermittent fasting enhances a crucial, cellular waste removal process called autophagy. During autophagy, the body disassembles unnecessary or old, cellular components and eliminates them.
Autophagy helps to rejuvenate your cells by increasing cellular energy production, making them more efficient, especially in the liver and brain. (11)
This has huge implications. We live and die at the cellular level. Since cell functioning is enhanced, there isn’t a single bodily process that can’t be improved with more efficient cellular detoxification.
Intermittent fasting will promote healthy autophagy and therefore slow the aging process.
Numerous animal studies show strong evidence that intermittent fasting can extend life span. In one study involving rats, life expectancy was increased by 83% in mice that participated in intermittent fasting. (12)
According to the CDC, heart disease and cancer are currently the #1 and #2 causes of premature death respectively. (13)
Lowering your risk factors for these common killers, is an important consideration for healthy aging. Intermittent fasting improves numerous risk factors for heart disease including: blood pressure, total and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, inflammatory markers and blood sugar levels. (14)
Intermittent fasting will also lower your risk for cancer. (15) See my post on Intermittent Fasting And Immune Function. Intermittent fasting will also decrease your risk for type 2 diabetes, another common disease, normally associated with aging. (16) (17)
If you’re ready to start an intermittent fasting regimen, my suggestions are in the first post in this series: Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss.
- Enhancing your body’s ability to deal with oxidative stress
- Balance your hormones naturally
- Enhance cellular detoxification and energy production
- Reduce risk factors for the big 2: heart disease and cancer
This is part 3 in a 5 part series I’m doing on the health benefits of intermittent fasting. Next week’s post will be on the benefits for the soul, the mental/emotional part of our being.
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Yours in Health,