You’ve probably heard of intermittent fasting (IF) in one form or another. There’s been a lot of talk about it in previous years and for a good reason. When done with the right mindset, intermittent fasting can bring many health benefits that could impact everything from your weight to your immune system.
If you’re dealing with a chronic health condition, intermittent fasting could help you in this process, making you feel stronger and able to manage your discomfort levels better. Here, it’s important to note that you should have a conversation with your doctor about IF before you start doing it. And if you already have the green light and want to understand what benefits intermittent fasting offers, you’ve come to the right place.
What is intermittent fasting?
The clue is in the name – intermittent fasting means that you have designated periods of day/week when you eat and fast. There are several different timeframes within which you can fast, and the most popular options to start with are:
- 12:12 regime – eat for 12 hours in the day, fast for the other 12 hours
- 14:10 regime – fast for 14 hours, then eat normally within the 10-hour span
- 16:8 – fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours (usually skipping breakfast in the morning)
It’s always a good idea to take baby steps and let your body adjust, then you can try out more advanced schedules like:
- 5:2 plan – eat for 5 days, and fast for 2 (there should be at least one day of normal eating between the fasting days)
- Alternate day fasting – it means you’ll eat one day and fast the next, either by not consuming food at all or limiting your intake to 500 calories
- Weekly 24-hour fast – on this plan, you’ll spend one day a week fasting, and that means 24 hours without solid food, only drinking water and sugarless drinks.
As you can see, there are plenty of options for you to try, you just need to pick one and get started. There will be a period of adjustment to this type of lifestyle, but after a few weeks, intermittent fasting will come naturally.
Benefits of Fasting in Managing Chronic Health Conditions
Now that you know what you can expect from intermittent fasting, look at how it could benefit your healing.
Intermittent Fasting Can Help with Managing Insulin Resistance
If you’re dealing with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes, you know that finding ways to improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin is your number one priority.
This is where intermittent fasting can help – by limiting the time during which you eat, you’re giving your body more leeway to move glucose to your cells instead of just leaving it in your blood. Additionally, you’re likely to intake less sugar because of the smaller eating timeslot, and fasting could make your blood sugar more stable. This type of autophagy fasting allows your metabolism to use up old cell materials, leaving room for new materials to be created and new, healthier processes to take place.
Reducing Inflammation in the Body
Some claim that constant inflammation in the body creates the breeding ground for all kinds of diseases, and sometimes, we don’t even recognize it until it gets chronic and wreaks havoc. One of the better ways to have a healthy, balanced metabolism is to pay extra care to what you’re eating and when.
By fasting intermittently on a schedule that feels good, you’ve got better chances of reducing inflammation in your body, which, in turn, lets your body normalize and not be in constant focus to treat its inflamed parts. As inflammation subsides, your overall health and how you feel in your skin could improve.
Prevention of Neurodegenerative Disorders
This ties into inflammation reduction, which can be one of the leading causes of a number of neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s Disease.
While there’s still a lot of room for research and discovery on this topic, early results suggest that fasting and the autophagy it induces could contribute to improving brain health. The processes that are triggered while your body is fasting boost the production of proteins that directly affect neuroplasticity and improve cognitive function. In short, these processes protect your brain from succumbing to neurodegeneration and keep you sharp as you get older, which is something we could all use more of.
The above benefits are the most prominent helpers to people managing chronic health conditions. Intermittent fasting can also help with weight regulation, cancer prevention, autoimmune diseases, and heart health.
It’s important to note that every person reacts differently to different fasting regimes, so start slowly and give yourself plenty of time to adjust. Pay attention to how you’re feeling and the improvements that could happen over time, and you might just get the most out of what intermittent fasting has to offer.