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Weight Loss And Brain Function Improved With Fasting

The new wave of diets encourage fasting as a healthy way to lose weight but it seems it could also help keep your brain young and help avoid the ‘brain fog’ so common at menopause.

AnnA Rushton

The last year or so has seen the emergence of fasting as a healthy way to rest the body and encourage weight loss, but not in the way it was done in the past.  

This usually involved many days on liquids only, or a specific food, but the new ones such as Patrick Holford’s ‘Burn Fat Fast’ programme encourage sensible eating and ‘fasting’ meaning a reduced calorie intake on those days.

Now new research has indicated that fasting can significantly reduce the effects of aging on the brain, as well as helping with weight loss. It has been known that bouts of intermittent fasting have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on the entire body so that incorporating this method could be one of the key strategies for maximizing brain function.

Why calorie reduction alone  is not the answer

Traditionally reducing calories has been seen to be effective, but researchers at the National Institute of Aging in Baltimore have reviewed the literature and performed studies to indicate the positive effects of fasting on overall brain health.

Professor Mark Mattson, who the head of the Institute’s laboratory of NeuroSciences, made it clear that these benefits were not just related to calorie restriction but instead to intentional periods of intermittent fasting.

There are two phases to our food consumption. First, eating stimulates the body to go into building phase which is essential for building new cells and tissues and storing nutrients for times of scarcity. This building phase of physiology is predominately led by the hormone insulin.

Second comes the cleansing phase where the body tears down old damaged cells. This process turns on brain autophagy, or “self-eating,” in where the cells recycle waste material, regulate waste products and repair themselves.

These genetic repair mechanisms are turned on through the release of human growth hormone (HGH). Fasting for more than 6 hours begins the cleansing phase and boosts production of HGFand that is known to create physiological changes in metabolism to favour fat burning and protein sparing.

What that means is that the proteins and amino acids are utilized to improve brain and neurone processing, repair tissue collagen which improves the functionality and strength of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones, and heals cuts and burns faster.

Not as critical, but important to most of us, is that HGH also improves skin function and reduces wrinkles.

Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute found that women who were tested had a 1300% increase in HGH. The researchers found that the fasting individuals had significantly reduced their triglycerides, boosted their HDL cholesterol and stabilized their blood sugar.  

HGH and insulin are opposites in function. HGH is focused on tissue repair, efficient fuel usage and anti-inflammatory immune activity. Insulin is designed for energy storage, cellular division and pro-inflammatory immune activity.

When conditions demand an insulin release (carbohydrate intake), HGH is inhibited plus a high protein/fat diet may not stimulate insulin but will inhibit HGH release.

Bouts of intermittent fasting are essential for the brain to ‘clean itself up’ and drive new neurons for maximum function and effectiveness.

Experts believe the intermittent fasting puts the brain cells under mild stress that is similar to the effects of exercise on muscle cells. The stress causes them to adapt and get more energy efficient.

The anti-inflammatory effect

Research has shown that bouts of fasting have a great anti-inflammatory effect on the entire body. Sufferers from asthma have shown great results as have preliminary reports on individuals with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Those already supplementing with progesterone will also have this benefit as one of its qualities is to be anti-inflammatory.

Best Strategies For Fasting:

The best way to begin fasting is by giving your body 12 hours between dinner and breakfast every single day. This allows 4 hours to complete digestion and 8 hours for the liver to complete its detoxification cycle.

After this you can choose how you incorporate it by either following a regime which has normal dietary intake 4 days a week and in between having a reduced calorie intake as in ‘Burn Fat Fast’. Or you might prefer to have  one day a week and extending the fast to 16-18 hours. Eventually, you may choose to do a full 24 hour fast each week.

If you are doing a complete no food fast, then make sure  you drink plenty of liquid such as herb teas or water with infused superfood extracts, or water with lemon or apple cider vinegar as they will improve the cleansing process by providing anti-oxidants and micronutrients that enhance healing while not interacting with insulin or HGH levels. Avoid any caffeinated drinks or those containing sugar.

Once the body is properly trained, most people are able to easily do a 16-18 hour fast everyday. The easiest way to do this is by missing breakfast to extend the overnight fast. Have a light lunch or mid-afternoon snack and then a large dinner.

Helpful information:

Hormone balance too has a part to play as progesterone supports weight loss as it acts as a diuretic, but it is also known to improve brain function and help with that ‘brain fog’ that is a common feature of menopause.

If you are not sure if you need bioidentical progesterone to help you, then these articles will be useful:

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