Nutrition is important. We are what we eat. However, we’re also products of what’s taking place in our minds. Our thoughts are important as well.
In this series on intermittent fasting, we’ve focused on the physical benefits up to this point. We’re going to shift gears a little bit with this post and talk about how intermittent fasting can benefit our souls or our mental / emotional health.[featured-image single_newwindow=”false” alt=”Intermittent Fasting for the Soul”]Image from Dollar Photo Club Created in Canva[/featured-image]
What goes on inside our heads throughout the day is critical to our health. The bible tells us:
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
But sometimes it feels good to be angry or hostile or pessimistic right? Well, we must remember that God’s not trying to be a cosmic kill-joy. We must surrender to the goodness of God.
God would never tell us to do something that is not to our benefit; and he would never tell us to avoid something that is not for our protection. So, when he tells us to think on positive things, it’s because it’s good for us.
For instance, having more self-compassion can reduce systemic inflammation in your body. (1) Anger and hostility lead to heart disease. In one interesting study, researchers found using angry language on Twitter, was better at predicting death from cardiovascular disease than lifestyle factors such as smoking, high blood pressure and obesity. (2)
So, if thoughts and words are that important, shouldn’t we be interested in getting help with our self-talk or thought lives? Intermittent fasting can do just that by improving mental function and mood.
Intermittent Fasting can improve mental clarity, mood and vigor. It can also reduce anger and lift depression. (3) (4) The mechanisms with which these benefits are derived are still being investigated. However, we can speculate a little bit.
We already discussed how intermittent fasting can boost cellular repair and rejuvenation through improved autophagy. See my post on Intermittent Fasting For Graceful Aging. Autophagy is an important cellular cleansing and detoxification process. Our cells shed old, worn-out material and replace them with new, more efficient cellular components.
Promoting efficient autophagy in brain cells, is important when battling age related cognitive decline. In one study, intermittent fasting was beneficial in reducing age related cognitive decline in mice. (5)
Intermittent fasting has also been shown to be beneficial in two other neurodegenerative disorders: Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. (8)
Fasting is a form of stress. Some stress can be beneficial. This is likely one of those times.
The mild stress produced through intermittent fasting has been shown to boost levels of Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor or BDNF. (9) BDNF is a protein that is powerfully neuro-protective in humans. This protection is concentrated in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain involved with higher reasoning and thinking.
It also enhances neuroplasticity (10) (11) In other words, it helps us think and learn better. In addition, low levels of BDNF have been linked to depression. (12) Maybe it’s time to give your body some healthy stress by doing intermittent fasting.[shareable]’Fasting is a form of stress. Some stress can be beneficial.’ David Sandstrom[/shareable]
Intermittent fasting has been demonstrated to reduce people’s cravings for unhealthy foods. (13) I can personally attest to the fact that intermittent fasting will change your relationship with food. You’ll eat to live rather than living to eat.
Our eating patterns are more about habit than they are about nourishment. If you have adequate nutrition leading up to a fast, your body can easily go 24 hours without food.
When your fast is over and it’s time to reintroduce food, you’ll find that you’ll crave healthy, nutritious food. Your body will not be screaming for chocolate chip cookies and potato chips.
You’ll be craving the kind of food that your body needs. This is especially true when coming off a longer fast, one that last longer than 24 hours.
You’ll also discover that your hunger patterns will adjust. If you choose to do the daily intermittent fasting regimen, after a while, you won’t even think about food until an hour or so before you usually eat.
Most people are completely unaware of the health benefits of intermittent fasting. Especially how it affects our mental capacity and mood. Being disciplined enough to practice regular intervals without food is a rare discipline indeed.
Once you’ve mastered this, you’ll gain a great deal of confidence, knowing that you’re doing something great for your body and soul. You’ll be practicing a form of self-love that most people are either unaware of, or unwilling to do.
You can find my recommendations for getting started and best practice guidelines for intermittent fasting in the first post in this series. Click on this link: Intermittent Fasting For Weight Loss.
If you enjoyed this post, leave me a comment or better yet, share it on social media.
Next week’s post will wrap up this series on intermittent fasting. We’ll be talking about how it benefits our spirits.
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