Intermittent fasting is not a new concept, in fact fasting has been used for health and longevity for centuries, in addition to being recommended by many religions.
The intermittent youth consists of alternating periods when one does not eat with others during which one can eat. It is allowed to drink, however. The benefits of fasting for health are many and extensive, and recent research has validated these benefits, particularly for the brain, but also for weight loss and many other aspects of our health.
Some of the most surprising and important benefits of intermittent fasting are in the brain, according to several studies by neuroscientists.
Creating more brain cells
You can create more brain cells and improve your brain performance. According to Dr. Mark Mattson, a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University, fasting has been shown to increase neurogenesis rates in the brain. Neurogenesis is the growth and development of new brain cells and new nerve tissue.
In a study that brought together a team from the University of Queensland, Australia, and a team from Georgia Regents University in the United States, intermittent fasting has been shown to stimulate the production of new brain cells and has been linked to increase brain performance, memory, concentration and mood enhancement.
Boost brain development
Not only does fasting increase your neurogenesis rate, but it also stimulates the production of an important protein called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).
The BDNF protein plays a role in neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to continue to change and adapt. It allows the brain to be more resilient to stress and more adaptable to change.
BDNF helps to produce new brain cells, protect brain cells, stimulate new connections and synapses while stimulating memory, improving mood and learning.
Intermittent fasting can also be an incredibly effective method of losing weight and reducing inflammation.
According to a study conducted by the Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois, USA, intermittent fasting can significantly reduce inflammation. Excessive inflammation is the cause of many chronic diseases we face today, including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, diabetes and more. There are many methods by which intermittent fasting reduces inflammation:
– Autophagy is when the body destroys old or damaged cells. It looks like cleaning rust. It is a way for the body to repair itself. If old or damaged cells remain in the body, they create inflammation. Intermittent fasting stimulates autophagy, helping the body cleanse itself, reducing inflammation
– Fasting has been shown to help regulate insulin resistance. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, insulin and glucose accumulate in the blood and create inflammation. Intermittent fasting allows your body to pause. Since there is no food to digest and your body consumes all its sugar stores, insulin levels begin to drop, allowing the body to become re-sensitive to insulin again.
Burn fat for energy
During fasting, the body uses all of its sugar stocks and then turns to fat stores to produce energy for the body’s functioning, so fasting effectively contributes to weight loss. Fat is actually a better source of energy and cleaner than carbohydrates. Not only do fats produce more energy per gram than carbohydrates, but they produce less free radicals, which causes inflammation.
Free radicals cause oxidative stress in the body and are thought to be the cause of many chronic diseases we face today, including many neurodegenerative diseases.
Increase growth hormone levels
A study conducted by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, showed that growth hormone has a neuroprotective effect and can increase neurogenesis, thus preserving the health and performance of the brain.
The study also showed that intermittent fasting naturally stimulates growth hormone levels to provide anti-aging, repair, neuroprotective, and longevity benefits.
A 2014 study by Yale University in the United States showed that intermittent fasting can stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis and allow the creation of new mitochondria that are like batteries of energy for the cells. Each of the body’s cells is filled with hundreds of mitochondria that feed the cells to function. Mitochondria in the brain also help the brain to have more brain power.