Scientific studies show fasting and intermittent fasting promote weight loss and burn belly fat, but have other important anti-aging health benefits, such as protecting the brain from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, the Huffington Post reported.
Researchers say fasting and intermittent fasting keeps the brain from shrinking and protects it from stress. Fasting as little as eight days a year could have significant health benefits, even for older people and cancer patients.
Research conducted at the USC Davis School of Gerontology indicates that fasting for two to four days at a time can regenerate your entire immune system — especially for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
“When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it does is recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged,” said study author Dr. Valter Longo, a professor of gerontology.
Longo said fasting can be especially beneficial for older people (whose immune systems become damaged with age) and for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. "If you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system," he said.
Boosts Human Growth Hormone 2,000%
Previous research from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Utah indicates periodic fasting dramatically increases human growth hormone. In a recent study, men who fasted for 24 hours experienced a 2,000% spike in HGH, while women saw a 1,300% increase. Studies show fasting stabilizes blood sugar and improves cholesterol.
Fasting for an entire day or two at a time can be difficult for most people, but you can reap the anti-aging and weight loss benefits of calorie restriction through intermittent fasting, which calls for alternating days of feeding and fasting.
Intermittent fasting can slow down aging by limiting the oxidative and metabolic stresses that damage cells, the Wall Street Journal reported.
According to research by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), intermittent fasting is better than conventional dieting for fueling weight loss, improving brain health, and maintaining lean muscle mass. "Just as exercise makes muscles stronger, fasting makes the brain stronger," said Dr. Mark Mattson, chief of the NIA's neurosciences lab.
What's more, this pattern of intermittent fasting helped the animals maintain their lean muscle mass even as they aged — the exact opposite of what happens to both animals and people as they get older.
Hugh Jackman Credits IF For Buff Wolverine Body
Similar experiments conducted on humans (alternating between days of normal eating and calorie restriction) showed the same effects. Dr. Mattson said fasting for short periods of time like 16 to 24 hours induces a state of stress in the body, which responds by releasing neurotrophic proteins that stimulate neurons and other cells.
Actor Hugh Jackman recently credited intermittent fasting for helping him achieve his rippling Wolverine body. Jackman, 45, said IF also gave him more energy and improved his sleep.
Hugh's 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol involves doing all his eating for the day during an eight-hour window and then not eating at all (except for water) for 16 hours. Jackman typically consumes all his calories between 10 am and 6 pm. It's an eating plan he follows even when he's not training for a role.