Indeed, intermittent fasting is one of the most effective interventions I’ve found to reverse insulin resistance, shed excess weight, and improve body composition.2 Two core mechanisms responsible for these benefits are:
1. Improved insulin and leptin sensitivity
2. Triggering your body to more effectively burn fat for fuel
Intermittent fasting also has other health benefits that can be valuable for just about anyone—including increased longevity and neuroprotective benefits—but if you’re not insulin resistant, it’s not as crucial.
If you’re among the minority of Americans who do not struggle with insulin resistance, then my general recommendation is to simply avoid eating at least three hours before bedtime. That automatically allows you to “fast” for at least 11 hours or longer depending on if and when you eat breakfast.
Efforts to Develop Intermittent Fasting as an FDA-Approved Cancer Treatment Underway
Interestingly, one research group is reportedly working on getting intermittent fasting approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an adjunct therapy for cancer patients.
Earlier research has demonstrated that calorie restriction helps extend the lifespan of animals by improving insulin sensitivity and inhibiting the mTOR pathway. Fasting has also been shown to “starve” cancer cells while simultaneously protecting cells from chemotherapy toxicity.
Intermittent fasting—which is easier to comply with—has been found to have very similar effects, and researchers are now looking at using intermittent fasting to augment cancer treatments and improve long-term survival rates.3
One recent study,4 published in the journal Cell Metabolism, found that bimonthly cycles of four-day long low-calorie intake produced multi-system regeneration in mice.
Visceral belly fat was reduced, and the risk for cancer and inflammatory diseases declined. Meanwhile, immune and brain function improved, and lifespan was increased. In the mouse brain, neurons were regenerated, improving learning and memory.
“The mouse tests were part of a three-tiered study on periodic fasting’s effects – testing yeast, mice and humans. Mice, which have relatively short life spans, provided details about fasting’s lifelong effects.
Yeast, which are simpler organisms, allowed researchers to uncover the biological mechanisms that fasting triggers at a cellular level. And a pilot study in humans found evidence that the mouse and yeast studies were, indeed, applicable to humans…
In a pilot human trial, three cycles of a similar diet given to 19 subjects once a month for five days decreased risk factors and biomarkers for aging, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer with no major adverse side effects.”
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