Thank you so much for joining me on today’s episode of the Simple Health Radio.

Today’s question comes to us from Robert Reyes, who is the business development manager of Kupplin Worldwide. Kupplin is one of the world’s largest staffing agencies. You can visit their website and connect with Robert by visiting www.Kupplin.com

Robert had a question about a new diet that he’s heard of. Let’s take a listen:

Let me first thank Robert for taking the time to record a question and sending it into us.

Intermittent fasting is one of the new diet regimens that become very popular globally. However, it’s important to note that intermittent fasting also known as IF has actually been around for thousands of years.

First, let’s define what IF actually means and what it isn’t. With this type of fasting, there are no specific foods that you have to eat. Rather, it’s based on the time that you’re eating them. So it’s not really a regular diet where you are trying to cut out certain things like sugar or fat or protein. Instead, you’re trying to train your body to eat only at certain times of the day or even the week.

The theory is that thousands of years ago, humans didn’t have a regular source of food. They lived out in the wild and sometimes there would be able to harvest or catch animals to eat, but not every day. The theories that the human body had to be lean and able to function on several days of minimal calories.

Fasting is actually done for many religious reasons, including during Ramadan for Muslims, during Lent and the Christian faith It’s also common in the Jewish faith, Hinduism, and Buddhism as well.

There are several different schedules that can be used to promote intermittent fasting. The 3 most common are called the 16/8, the Eat-Stop-Eat, and the 5:2. Let me talk about each of those 3 at a bit more in detail.

The 16/8 method is also called the lien gains protocol. This is the most popular method. Essentially, you’re skipping breakfast and you’re only eating for 8 hours out of 24. Then for 16 consecutive hours, you don’t eat or snack.

The Eat Stop Eat pattern means you fast continuously for 24 hours at least once a week. Often times, people go from dinner of one day until dinner the next day without eating. They can be repeated a 2nd time later in the week if necessary.

The 5:2 diet is a calorie restricted diet. Here you only eat about 500 Cal on 2 random days during the week and then eat normally on the other 5. So it’s not a true fast, but it’s a dramatic reduction in calories in just 2 out of the 7 days.

Let’s talk a little bit about the biochemistry of intermittent fasting. We do know that there are hormone levels that regulate metabolism and fat in the body. The 2 most well-known include human growth hormone and insulin. Human growth hormone is also called HGH and is necessary for hundreds of different functions in the body. HGH is necessary for children turning into teenagers and then into adults. People who perform fasting have an increase in HGH which helps with losing fat, but also to gain muscle mass.

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas, which converts blood sugar, also called glucose into energy in the muscles and the brain. They’re something called insulin sensitivity. For example, if people eat a large amount of sweets every single day and they snack on simple sugars, the pancreas makes extra insulin, but the sensitivity actually goes down. Now you have large amounts of sugar in the blood and large amounts of insulin in the blood which is a bad combination. The end result is that a lot of that sugar is converted into fat.

During fasting, because there is no intake of simple sugars, the insulin levels go down and the little bit of insulin that’s in the blood becomes even more sensitive. That has the benefit of burning fat instead of producing more fat.

There are also some studies that state the cells can repair themselves better when you’re fasting and the certain genes become activated when you’re fasting to help you to fight diseases.

There is a theory that the metabolic rate actually improves when you’re fasting. The body has become more efficient and it reduces your appetite over time. People who consistently follow the intermittent fasting regimen have been shown to lose between 3% and 8% of their body weight over several months. Keep in mind that there will be some loss of muscle protein though because that does occur during fasting.

There are other ongoing research studies that state, there is less inflammation in the body, especially with chronic diseases when people are fasting. Inflammation causes stress to the blood vessels, muscles, and organs. This is very common in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The theory is that reducing inflammation by fasting will help to reduce the need for medication to treat these disorders.

Fasting also helps to lower the bad cholesterol called LDL. Because people are eating less, there will be less cholesterol deposited in the blood resulting in fewer heart attacks and stroke.

There’s also research that says fasting may help to reduce the risk of cancer, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and even help people live longer. These are still under investigation, however.

Another we talked was some of the benefits of intermittent fasting, we do have to talk about some of the side effects.

Some people are prone to having eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. Those people should not do intermittent fasting. Anorexia and bulimia affect men and women, but they especially affect teenagers. These people should be screened for eating disorders before starting any type of intermittent fasting because it can lead to permanent psychological damage.

Intermittent fasting can affect menstrual cycles and women. The reason is that hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are related to insulin. When there are not enough calories in the body, women lose fertility. This causes irregular menstrual cycles and can affect pregnancy and breastfeeding. These women should definitely talk to their gynecologists before starting intermittent fasting.

There are many videos and online articles that talk about intermittent fasting. If you or a family member is interested in starting it, I would definitely recommend doing your research first.

Talk to your family doctor and do an EKG to make sure your heart rhythm is normal. Consider getting your thyroid, blood sugar, and other basic labs before you start fasting.

People who have a history of gout, liver problems, kidney issues, or any type of heart problems needs to talk to their doctor or specialist before starting any type of fasting. If you take any over-the-counter or prescription medications, you have to be aware that their absorption could be affected based on the lack of food and your metabolic rate may be different.

There are several side effects that people describe including excessive hunger, constipation, and headaches. Other people may develop dizziness, acid reflux, or muscle cramps due to a lack of vitamins.

There is a medical condition called refeeding syndrome. This can be life-threatening and occurs when people have not eaten for over a week and they start to eat again. Basically the stomach and the intestine aren’t able to absorb the food because they have been in a shutdown mode for so long. Those people oftentimes are hospitalized and require IV fluids and careful monitoring.

I want to thank Robert Reyes again for sending in a great question about intermittent fasting. You can visit his website if you have any questions about staffing needs at www.Kupplin.com

I will update the show notes in the blogs on our website www.SimpleHealthRadio.com

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References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156

https://www.dietdoctor.com/intermittent-fasting

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide#simpler-lifestyle

 

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