How to Use Fasting For Inflammation and Longevity | Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

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How to Use Fasting For Inflammation and Longevity | Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

In Depth Look at Intermittent Fasting and its Effect on Inflammation

Fasting has been used for medical and therapeutic purposes for thousands of years. In recent years, intermittent fasting (IF) has been gaining traction as a tool in the fitness space to maintain muscle while burning fat.

The idea of IF is to go without food for a sufficient period of time so that you deplete your immediate energy sources, ie your blood glucose and liver glycogen stores, and your body is forced into fat-burning mode.

When your body has run out of glucose and glycogen stores, it will then turn to your stored fat as a source of energy, which is exactly what we want when we are looking to lose weight or increase our muscle tone.

Not only does IF help with fat loss, but it also boosts human growth hormone, which is known to play a role in bone strength and lean body mass.

There are two approaches to adding fasting to your regimen – you can either do a full day fast or a daily fast, both of which offer health and weight loss benefits.

A full day fast is when you take one day a week and fast for the whole day. Daily fasts are when you space out the amount of time between when you eat your last meal at night and your first meal in the morning so that there is a large period of time, usually around 10 to 14 hours, in between.

Fasting and Inflammation

Inflammation is not an always good or always bad kind of response. We experience inflammation when our body is trying to heal itself, but when the inflammation lasts for long periods of time, negative health impacts occur.

Chronic inflammation is involved in many of today’s chronic conditions, including gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease, arthritis, obesity, asthma and cancer. Additionally, inflammation is a major cause of musculoskeletal disorders, ranging from short term back pain to arthritis and osteoporosis.

Recent studies have found a positive impact of fasting on chronic inflammation.

Leukotriene B4 (LTB4) plays an important role in several cellular processes involved in inflammation, including oxidative metabolism, enzyme release and stimulation of neutrophil migration and aggregation.

It is known that altering your lipid intake changes the phospholipid fatty acid composition of cell membranes. This has an impact on the precursor substance content for the production of inflammatory leukotrienes.

Diet plays a huge role when it comes to chronic inflammation in the body. It has been shown that a diet high in fish oil decreases the production of LTB4, so one study wanted to look at how total calorie reduction would impact this.

14 individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) participated in a 1 week fast, with inflammatory marker measurements taken before and after the fast. They found that fasting reduced the release of leukotriene B4 from RA neutrophils, reduced the generation of cytotoxins from serum and altered the phospholipid fatty acid composition.

It was shown that the phospholipid composition changed following the fast with a resulting reduction of LTB4 production, demonstrating an anti-inflammatory effect of fasting.

No adverse effects of fasting were found in the study, only lightheadedness and a bit of weakness during the fasting period, making fasting a good option for those with RA.

Several other studies have also been successful in demonstrating that a calorie restriction diet, which is reducing your calories without malnutrition, reduces inflammatory markers. This occurred through the reduction of inflammatory cytokine production, including reduced tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6.

Chronic inflammation can impact every part of the body, including the brain. Chronic neuroinflammation is typical in many neurodegenerative diseases, including depression and Alzheimer’s.

In a 2015 study on rats it was found that IF reduced the risk of damage to brain function in both younger and older rats when looking at neurodegenerative diseases linked to central nervous system inflammation.

The inflammasome is a set of proteins linked to several disorders, including type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disorders, Alzheimer’s and autoinflammatory disorders. Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine conducted a study on mice in 2015 and found that beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) produced by fasting inhibits NLRP3, the set of proteins known as the inflammasome.

BHB is produced when you fast, consume a ketogenic diet, do high-intensity exercise or experience calorie restriction, so these can all be used as tools to inhibit the inflammasome and decrease inflammation throughout the body.

Diet, exercise and some form of intermittent fasting are great tools to increase your health by decreasing the inflammation in your body. Whether you decide to eat more healthy fats, like those found in fish, or go all the way to a ketogenic diet, making lifestyle changes to keep your body healthy is crucial if you want to live a life full of energy and mental clarity.

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References:

1. Role of therapeutic fasting in women’s health: an overview
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4960941/#ref25
2. Effects of fasting on disease activity, neutrophil function, fatty acid composition and leukotriene biosynthesis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1002/art.1780310502/asset/1780310502_ftp.pdf?v=1&t=iuif7qwx&s=871d47e0686d6d985ec5f7a56ebe96bec2c086a2
3. Calorie restriction with a high fat diet effectively attenuated inflammatory response and oxidative-stress related markers in obese tissues of the high diet fed rats
https://www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2012/984643/citations/
4. Effects of intermittent fasting on age related changes on…in rat hippocampus
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25818175
5. Auto-inflammatory mechanism of dieting and fasting revealed
http://news.yale.edu/2015/02/16/anti-inflammatory-mechanism-dieting-and-fasting-revealed

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