Intro to Intermittent Fasting
In this article from the NY Times, I was interested to read that the author has, like me, Type 1 diabetes, and that a trial of intermittent fasting actually reduced her diabetes mental load. This actually makes total sense to me after 23 years of diabetes – and it might make perfect sense to each of you, trying to focus more carefully on what you are eating each day. This strict focus on what we can and can’t eat definitely creates a mental, social and emotional burden – especially at first.
So what IS intermittent fasting??
There are many definitions, but broadly, it refers to a longer period of time without eating than what we humans typically allow in today’s modern age. Several examples of ways to engage in intermittent fasting include:
– Restricting eating to an 8-10 hour period each day, and “fasting” (or consuming only water, tea, or black coffee which are all virtually non-caloric and simple to digest) for the remaining 14-16 hours/day. This is what the author of the NY Times article is doing.
– One day/week, completely fast for 24 hours (only consuming water, tea, black coffee). My grandmother used to routinely do this, and she lived healthfully into her mid 90s. Maybe there’s something to this! 😉
– Skipping meals intermittently
– “Pro-Lon” – or Pro-Longevity Diet – this is a 5-day kit that includes everything you eat and drink for 5 days of highly controlled calorie restriction. Jeff has been doing this every three months this past year, as the research is strong and compelling for this particular form of intermittent fasting and its positive health effects for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and dementia. (If you are interested in this approach, we do sell the kits in our office for a discount off the retail price for our patients).
Read more about other options here.
How does intermittent fasting potentially benefit us humans?
Well, there are currently a flurry of studies in this area, as the early research is compelling! According to the above-mentioned NYTimes article, benefits include:
Reduced body weight, reduced body fat, reduced cholesterol, better glucose control, reduced liver fat, increased endurance and better motor coordination.
Not having food in our stomach helps us with deep sleep in the night. If you are doing time-restricted eating, your sleep drive will increase, and sleep will be much better.
For many of our clients, we propose particular dietary changes in part to help you all identify particular food sensitivities, cravings, addictions, etc – and to remove all the most inflammatory and problematic foods from your system for a while. So in essence, you are “fasting” from many problematic foods, but still giving your digestive system something to chew on 😉
Fasting gives your whole system a break, which – as research is showing – has many benefits.
I encourage you to read the NY Times article, as this woman found Intermittent Fasting to be a better way for her to get positive results while allowing her to still eat some of the foods she can eat and which she enjoys such as chickpeas and wine 😉 Life in balance. One bite at a time.