CosBeauty is the #BeautyAddict's guide to lifestyle, health and beauty in Australia.
In this issue:
- The Breast Report - your guide to augmentation
- Put an end to bad hair days
- 24 hour makeup, products that last
- Sex appeal - do you have it?
feature Potential health Benefits A comprehensive survey by US newsletter Medical News Today found advocates of intermittent fasting ‘say the following benefits can be achieved’: Weight loss Since the body is unable to draw its energy from food during fasting, it dips into glucose that is stored in the liver and muscles. This begins around eight hours after the last meal is consumed. When the stored glucose has been used up, the body then begins to burn fat as a source of energy, which can result in weight loss. Reduce cholesterol As well as aiding weight loss, Dr Razeen Mahroof at the University of Oxford in the UK explains the use of fat for energy can help preserve muscle and reduce cholesterol levels. Regenerate immune cells The study by Dr Longo noted above suggests prolonged fasting may also be effective for regenerating immune cells. ‘When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged,’ he explains. In the study, published in the journal Stem Cell, his team found repeated cycles of two-to-four days without food over a six month period destroyed the old and damaged immune cells in mice and generated new ones. What is more, the team found cancer patients who fasted for three days prior to chemotherapy were protected against immune system damage that can be caused by the treatment, which they attribute to immune cell regeneration. ‘The good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting,’ says Dr Longo. ‘Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or ageing, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.’ Longevity Some researchers report years of animal studies have shown a link between restriction of calories, fewer diseases and longer life. Scientists have studied the mechanisms behind those benefits and their translation to humans. Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF- 1) is a hormone linked to certain diseases that affect lifespan, such as cancer and type 2 diabetes. Some experts report eating increases IGF-1 production. Fasting may be a way to decrease IGF-1 levels, which could potentially lower the risk of chronic diseases and extend lifespan. Cancer Studies have reported that restricting calories decreases IGF-1 levels, which results in slower tumour development. A very small study in people with cancer found that fasting reduced some of the side effects of chemotherapy, including fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Due to potential negative effects, long-term calorie restriction is not recommended for people with cancer. Short-term calorie restriction, such as intermittent fasting, may be an option for this group of people. Neurological diseases Intermittent fasting may also impact cognition. In a study of mice with genes for Alzheimer’s disease, intermittent fasting improved performance on measures of cognitive decline associated with ageing. Blood sugar Some studies have shown that intermittent fasting improves insulin sensitivity more than traditional diets, but others have not found the same advantage. Researchers have also reported intermittent fasting and traditional diets lead to comparable decreases in haemoglobin A1c. Potential health Risks According to the UK’s National Health Service, there are numerous health risks associated with intermittent fasting. People who fast commonly experience dehydration, largely because their body is not getting any fluid from food. If you are used to having breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between, fasting periods can be a major challenge. As such, fasting can increase stress levels and disrupt sleep. Dehydration, hunger or lack of sleep during a fasting period can also lead to headaches. Fasting can also cause heartburn; lack of food leads to a reduction in
Fasting ‘easier than traditional dieting’ stomach acid, which digests food and destroys bacteria. But smelling food or even thinking about it during fasting periods can trigger the brain into telling the stomach to produce more acid, leading to heartburn. According to 5:2 Diet advocate Dr Michael Mosley, intermittent fasting is not recommended for people with the following conditions: • Being underweight • Eating disorders • Type 1 diabetes • Type 2 diabetes that is controlled by medication • Pregnancy (or women breastfeeding) • Recent surgery • Mental heath conditions • Fever or illness • Conditions where Warfarin is prescribed Negative feelings and behaviours reported by Dr John Berardi in his book Experiments with Intermittent Fasting include: • Changes in mood • Extreme hunger • Low energy • Obsessive thoughts about food • Binge eating behaviour And Medical News Today noted people interested in trying intermittent fasting ‘should consider whether or not it will work with their lifestyle. Fasting stresses the body, so it may not be beneficial for people already dealing with significant stressors’. CBM US nutritionist Dr John Berardi tried six different intermittent fasting plans over six months and published his results in the book Experiments with Intermittent Fasting. Over those six months he: • Dropped 20 pounds of weight (from 190 pounds to 170 pounds); • Reduced his body fat from 10 per cent to four per cent (while maintaining most of his lean muscle mass). Importantly, he noted: ‘I accomplished the goals I set for myself in a way that was easier and less time consuming than “traditional” dieting.’ Berardi summed up his four key findings: 1. Trial fasting is a great way to practice managing hunger. ‘This is an essential skill for anyone who wants to get in shape and stay healthy and fit.’ 2. More regular fasting isn’t objectively better for losing body fat. ‘While my IF experiments worked quite well, the intermittent fasting approach (bigger meals, less frequently) didn’t produce better fat loss than a more conventional diet approach (smaller meals, more frequently) might have.’ 3. More regular fasting did make it easier to maintain a lower body fat percentage. ‘Intermittent fasting isn’t easy. However, I did find that using this approach made it easier for me to maintain a low body weight and a very low body fat percentage vs more conventional diets.’ 4. Intermittent fasting can work, but it’s not for everyone, nor does it need to be. ‘In the end, IF is just one approach, among many effective ones, for improving health, performance, and body composition.’ Berardi says his results found that ‘intermittent fasting can be helpful for in-shape people who want to really get lean without following conventional bodybuilding diets, or for anyone who needs to learn the difference between body hunger and mental hunger.’ However he also explains that successful nutrition plans, ‘whether they use smaller, more frequent meals or larger, less frequent meals all share a few commonalities’. These include: • Controlling calories. When calories are controlled, progress is made. ‘Whether you control them by eating frequent small meals or infrequent larger meals is up to you.’ • Focusing on food quality. Fresh, unprocessed, nutrient-dense food is a must, regardless of which eating style you adopt. • Regular exercise. Exercise is a critical part of the equation. Berardi concludes: ‘Once those three have been taken care of, it’s a matter of personal preference and lifestyle considerations.’ www.cosbeauty.com.au 89