Eat less, live longer?

Fasting for health and weight loss.

Intermittent fasting is in the news. You have probably heard about it if you spend any time on the internet, but is it worth the effort? Maybe it is.  Harvard researchers recently showed that manipulating your mitochondria  can delay aging. Manipulation was done through by dietary intervention, i.e. fasting.

Why mitochondria?

Your mitochondria are your energy producers. They change shape with age and demand. Mitochondria also respond to dietary restriction, or intermittent fasting, by remaining in a “youthful” state. The research published in Cell Metabolism is the first to study aging in real time, using worms that typically live two weeks.

Other studies have proven that fasting promotes healthy aging, but we didn’t know how. This the beginning of understanding the benefits and researchers now want to study mammals and as the researcher say,

“Our findings open up new avenues in the search for therapeutic strategies that will reduce our likelihood of developing age-related diseases as we get older.”

You know what that means.

Drugs.

How can we make a drug to mimic the benefits of eating less? The researchers also think that your mitochondria might play a role in the relationship between obesity and age-related diseases. Sounds like a logical progression. Your mitochondria can increase with exercise, decrease with lack of use, stay younger if you don’t overfeed them. They change and adapt with your environment and circumstances. If you don’t use your muscles they atrophy, you burn less fat, you store more fat, but you can reverse these changes with exercise!

Mitochondria and Exercise Flow Chart

Fasting vs plants.

You don’t need to wait for the pharmaceutical intervention, in fact you may not even have to eat less although that might not be so bad either. Most of us regularly eat more than we need. You could eat a plant-based diet. This means no processed foods, no oil, no extras, but also no calorie restriction. People who eat a strictly plant-based diet have less IGF-1 levels in their blood. They have less of the cancer promoting, inflammatory growth promoting hormone and are more likely to be thinner. Which is probably why anyone would consider fasting.

Thin or fit and healthy?

That is a false choice.

You can be healthier and not thin, but you can’t be healthy and be overweight. You can also be healthier and be fit, but being fit doesn’t mean that you are at your best health. We know that being overweight is it’s own health risk. Being fit doesn’t mean that you are eating well and too often athletes think they can eat whatever they want because they aren’t gaining weight. Rarely do professional athletes believe this myth.

For best results we should all eat well, exercise daily and avoid gaining weight. What if you have a few pounds to lose? Then intermittent fasting might work. It might improve your health and could help drop a few pounds. So would eating a strictly plant-based diet, no artificially processed foods, no oil and no sugar. Either way you would be eliminating unnecessary calories and improving your health. Sounds interesting? Next week I will post about how to incorporate intermittent fasting benefits into your diet.

Change your mind, change your health,

Shayla

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