More and more research is pointing to the practice that eating less prolongs our lives. Studies have gone beyond the lab rat stage to documenting the apparent correlation between eating less and living longer in humans.
This is, of course, within reason and assuming that the essential calories and nutrients for sustaining health are included in the diet. Not only do we eat too much, but we also many times make dubious choices.
Many of us eat five times a day or more, including meals and snacks, and although this style of eating provides the body with a constant flow of nutrients (assuming you are making good choices), there is increasing evidence that intermittent fasting can help you gain certain health benefits.
Certified dietician Leslie Langerin of Whole Health Nutrition is quoted as noting that intermittent fasting can lower the risk of diabetes, improve blood sugar levels, improve memory, and help with weight loss, as well as help push through a weight loss plateau. She also opines that if someone has had a history of eating disorders, that intermittent fasting may not be a good strategy to employ.
Every time you ingest food, your body digests it, absorbs the nutrients and then transports those nutrients to the cells to be used immediately or to be stored for later use.
When we overconsume, our cells get backlogged with nutrients and as the next load comes in, it takes precedence over the stored nutrients. This situation can lead to weight gain and metabolic issues.
Some of the process of the cells are compromised and are basically back-burnered while your cells are trying to manage a constant flow of nutrients. One of these processes is termed autophagy, which can be described as the cells internal cleansing process.
When the cells get a break from a continual flow of nutrients, they can clean up older or worn-out cellular components and reconfigure the basic building blocks of those components to support cell maintenance and growth.
Taking a periodic break from eating can allow the autophagic process to occur naturally. The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was given to Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi for his work and discoveries of the mechanisms of autophagy.
As the research continues, it appears that autophagy as a normal part of metabolism helps support heart health and brain health as well as being an essential process to long-term good health.
Cells use autophagy to clean up their own interior cellular debris but they also use autophagy to maintain cellular homeostasis. Here in Hawaii we have a wonderful word for homeostasis. It is pono. Autophagy keeps the cells pono.
Autophagy also removes infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses. Had you ever wondered about that? Why it is when you get sick, you lose your appetite? I always thought as a child that was strange; it seemed to me that when you’re sick you would need more nutrients and should be hungry.
The wisdom of the body knows that the cells can do a better job of removing infectious agents when they are left free to do so rather than being kept busy trying to store or use nutrients.
By taking short breaks from eating and introducing a cleanse day every so often you allow your cells an opportunity to use up the stored nutrients which helps you maintain a healthy body weight as well as helping support your cells in cleansing themselves.
There are various methods of doing intermittent fasting. Some people take a day off from eating every week, whereas others have an early dinner and a late breakfast daily. The fasting that occurs when we sleep is also an imperative for good health.
This time gives our cells an opportunity to clean and repair, so it is wise not to eat right before going to bed but rather try to maximize the time wherein your body is not working to digest, transport and absorb nutrients. I wish you a long and healthy life! Aloha!
Dr. Jane Riley, EdD., is a certified personal fitness trainer, certified nutritional adviser, certified behavior change specialist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-8119 cell/text and www.janerileyfitness.com.