Is fasting the secret to a longer life?

-Jan 10, Hannah Hargrave , Nutrition -

Fasting is a health trend showing no signs of slowing down, and it turns out when, not just what, you eat could have a major impact on your longevity.

In order to live a long, happy and healthy life we focus on eating the right foods, exercising regularly and avoiding toxic ingredients. But longevity also relies heavily on when we eat, which is why fasting can play a major role in our quest for optimal health. 

What is fasting?

Fasting is essentially limiting your calorie intake over a certain period of time. There are an array of different possibilities with some people opting to go without food for several hours while others may go for days. 

Related: Time restricted feeding: 4 things you need to know

Popular methods of fasting

Time restricted fasting – This normally entails fasting between 12-16 hours and is often done overnight, meaning if you finish your last meal at 7pm you won’t eat breakfast until at least 7am the next morning. It’s common for people to skip breakfast entirely with this method. It is by far the most achievable. 

5:2 fasting – This method isn’t for the faint hearted as it involves fasting for two days and eating normally for the rest of the week. 

Periodic fasting – With periodic fasting you generally fast once or twice a year but for two to three days straight. 

One a day (OAD) – Eating just one meal a day, so fasting for 23 hours  is extreme and for the most part people will only be able to keep it up for a short amount of time before they return to their normal eating habits.

Studies have shown the benefits of fasting can include:

 – Weight loss

 – Lower blood pressure

 – Increased brain function

 – Fights inflammation

 – Longevity

 – Improved immune system

Does fasting extend your life span?

The fact of the matter is maintaining a healthy weight, blood pressure and immune system goes a long way to preventing cardiovascular disease and other chronic and potentially life threatening conditions. So if fasting can assist this then it makes sense that your life span is extended.

In addition though, fasting has been shown to reinvigorate cells and assist healthy ageing. When you fast the cells are put under stress – the same way they are when you exercise. Creating changes at a cellular level can help extend your lifespan. The bad cells are killed off and fresh, young and more functional ones replace them. 

Related: Inside the brain boosting diet loved by Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Aniston

That being said while there has been an abundance of scientific studies on fasting, studies conducted on humans is still relatively limited. 

The extension of life could be more about the fact fasting can help people achieve normal, healthy bodyweight.

At the end of the day eating a balanced diet, paying attention to portion control and calorie intake and regularly exercising is the healthiest way you can care for your body.

When you eat is incredibly important, but you don’t have to go to extreme measures to benefit from this. Cut back on late night snacking and eating with the sun are simple ways you can essentially ‘fast’ and be healthy but without depriving yourself. 

If you want to try any form of fasting ensure you consult your GP first. 

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