Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Brain Health and Longevity

Posted January 17, 2023 by in Health + Fitness

Every year or so, a new diet or health fad comes along. But lately, more and more people are starting to try intermittent fasting. And this is something that has been around for quite some time. It really started to hit popularity in the early 2000s. 

The technique of holding off on eating food for a certain amount of hours primarily focused on the benefit of losing weight. But as more people study the diet, other benefits have shown up. Interestingly, brain health and living a healthier longer life were two benefits. Let’s take a look. 

woman in floral sundress holding a yogurt parfait

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is when you eat during a certain range of hours and otherwise drink water or liquids during your off hours. Instead of focusing on what you eat, the idea is to focus more on when you are eating. Platforms like Zero’s free intermittent fasting tracker app offers different fasting schedules based on different requirements as there is not one schedule or methods to fast.

For instance, some intermittent fasting diets choose to eat eight hours during the day. Normally, it starts in the morning since our stomachs digest food better here. It may look like you eat between 8 AM and 4 PM and fast for the remainder of the time you are awake/asleep. 

The Effect It Has On Our Brain

We can look at three major brain-related benefits when it comes to fasting. 

  • Fasting ignites something called metabolism switching. This not only can help slow down how quickly you age but also helps produce neuroplasticity in the brain. Neuroplasticity is the way that our brain adapts to find solutions to challenges. In other words, the better your brain’s neuroplasticity is, the better you are at learning new stuff. Fasting works to boost the protein called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor. Sometimes up to 400%! 
  • Autophagy is also triggered when you start fasting. This is when old or damaged cells are broken down. This matters because it helps fight off degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. 
  • In general, most people who fast have reported being able to think more clearly and feel less foggy. Often this leads to an improved mood. While some people may first experience the opposite in the early days of fasting, many have felt it quickly improves to a state of better than before fasting. 

Other Positive Effects. 

Fasting does not only improve your brain, but it can mainly have a positive impact on your physical health and help fight off disease. It’s worth talking about a few of these benefits. 

  • Protect Against Obesity and Disease

Fasting helps manage and control weight or even helps with weight loss. When the body thinks it’s starving, it dips into its fat resources, which help take inches off our waistline. 

This is the most important kind of fat to lose as it can contribute to several chronic conditions if you are overweight. 

It also helps eliminate your risk for heart disease by eating healthier and limiting your calorie intake as your metabolism declines are important. Some studies have even found that it helps lower blood pressure

  • Fight Inflammation

Fasting helps reduce the release of a particular pro-inflammatory cell which is called monocytes. Doctors note that these particular cells go into what they call sleep mode. 

This is why fasting can be particularly helpful for those who suffer from issues like arthritis. 

  • Less Insulin Resistance

For those who may struggle with diabetes, fasting may be a good option. Studies have shown that fasting can improve insulin resistance because of restricting calories. 

But studies on this benefit have been small and limited, so dieticians recommend consulting a doctor before changing your diet to aid diabetes. 

  • Lower Your Cholesterol

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can lower bad cholesterol. This is often referred to as LDL and is an issue that often leads to heart disease if not managed properly. 

Fasting positively reduced how many triglycerides were in the blood. This is fat found in the blood that can lead to a stroke. 

Oatmeal with berries in bowl on bed next to flowers

Starting a new diet can take some guts. And if you want to improve your gut health, intermittent fasting has proven to do this. The important part is monitoring how you feel. If you try intermittent fasting and your mood and energy levels feel more depleted past the point of trial, it may not be for you. But benefits such as increased brain function, losing weight, and lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol seem to be too good not to give it a try. 

And while 16:8 is a popular intermittent fasting schedule, there are many others worth checking out to see what fits best.