There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and new fitness fads. If you watch any late night infomercials (really you should be getting sleep, the forgotten health tonic) you’ll be bombarded by pitches for the latest gym equipment, fitness videos and diet shake plans.
These health fads are also cyclical: apple cider vinegar in the morning was a big one in the ‘70s. Keto diet? That was being used as a treatment for diabetes and epilepsy in the 1920s. But there’s one technique has been around longer than any other, and it doesn’t even require you to buy a single lemon.
Doctors continue to endorse one tried and true method for staying healthy; watch what you eat and exercise. But a healthy diet may have a lot to do with when you’re eating as well as what you’re eating.
Fasting at certain times of the year or day has been part of worship for many religions around the globe. It’s also a regular natural state for hunter gatherers across the ages; food was not always on hand and a small meal a day would be lucky in winter.
While intermittent fasting could be called a ‘fad,’ one aspect that makes it doubly interesting is it has been shown to stimulate something known as ‘autophagy’.
Autophagy is the body’s natural method of cleansing itself by stripping dead, diseased, or worn-out cells and recycling those molecules for energy or to make new cell parts. Scientists have studied the process and found autophagy is linked to reduced inflammation, improved immune system and lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Autophagy also kicks in under mild stresses such as during moderate to intense exercise: another reason to get out there and pound the pavement or lift a few weights.
Of course, any changes to your diet should be discussed and planned with the help of a health professional, as intermittent fasting is not suitable for all people.