This trendy method of eating has gained a lot of attention lately for its potential benefits for both physical and mental health. Still, fasting has been practised by various cultures and religions throughout history for multiple reasons, including spiritual, health, and cultural reasons.
So, what exactly is intermittent fasting? Basically, it involves restricting calorie intake during specific periods of the day or week. But what about potential drawbacks? Well, it’s important to note that intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and potential drawbacks of intermittent fasting for both physical and mental health.
Let’s get started!
Benefits of fasting for Physical Health
One of the most well-known benefits of IF is weight loss, but IF can do much more for our overall mental and physical health than help us lose extra weight; some of the most important benefits are the following:
Animal studies have shown that IF can increase lifespan and delay age-related diseases. While more research is needed to determine if this is true for humans, some studies have shown that IF can improve markers of ageing, such as reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
2)Reduced Risk of Heart Disease:
Intermittent fasting may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
3)Improved Metabolic Health:
IF has been shown to improve metabolic health by reducing insulin resistance and controlling blood sugar. This can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other conditions related to metabolic syndromes, such as heart disease and stroke.
4)Improved Cellular Repair:
During periods of fasting, the body goes into cellular repair mode. This process, known as autophagy, allows the body to break down and recycle old or damaged cells, possibly reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases such as cancer.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Mental Health
One of the most well-known benefits of fasting for mental health is that it may help increase focus and concentration and promote a sense of mental clarity and well-being. In addition to these benefits, fasting may also help to:
Studies have shown that IF can improve mood by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. This protein supports the growth and function of brain cells. Higher levels of BDNF have been associated with improved mood and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
IF has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which has been linked to the development of depression and other mood disorders. By reducing inflammation, IF may help improve overall mental well-being.
IF has been shown to increase resilience or the ability to cope with stress. Exposure to mild stress during fasting may improve the body’s ability to adapt and respond to stress healthily.
4)Improved Brain Function:
IF has been shown to improve brain function by increasing the production of new brain cells and enhancing cognitive function. Studies have also shown that IF may help protect against age-related cognitive decline and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Potential drawbacks of intermittent fasting
While fasting may improve mental and physical health, it’s essential to be cautious and seek the advice of a healthcare professional before jumping into significant changes to your diet or lifestyle. Fasting can be challenging and may not be appropriate for everyone; some potential drawbacks include the following:
1)Hunger and Cravings:
Fasting periods can lead to increased hunger and cravings, which may be difficult for some people to manage.
IF may be a huge trigger for individuals with a history of disordered eating or an unhealthy relationship with food. One reason is that it can lead to a constant preoccupation with food and eating, leading to obsessive thoughts about food and feelings of guilt or shame when they deviate from their eating schedule. This can develop into disordered eating behaviours, such as binge eating, purging, or restrictive eating.
Intermittent fasting can lead to hormonal changes that may impact fertility and menstrual cycles for several reasons. One of these reasons is increased stress levels within the body, which can prompt the release of stress hormones like cortisol. This can disrupt the balance of other hormones within the body, potentially leading to irregular menstrual cycles and other hormonal imbalances. Therefore, pregnant women, breastfeeding or trying to conceive, should not practice IF without consulting their healthcare provider.
Intermittent fasting can be a fun and effective way to improve mental and physical health. However, it’s important to note that IF may only suit some. In addition, there are potential drawbacks to consider, such as hunger and cravings, disordered eating, hormonal changes, and mood changes. So remember to talk to your healthcare provider first to determine if it’s safe for you and to help you achieve your wellness goals!