In the last 5-10 years, intermittent fasting (IF) made a rise. It’s very popular among health and fitness enthusiasts because of its many health benefits. It’s a popular method for losing weight and improve health.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that has a certain amount of hours in which you fast, and in which you eat. Instead of focusing on what you it, intermittent fasting focuses on when you eat.
There are a few ways to do intermittent fasting, here are some of the most popular ways:
- 16:8 – This is the most popular, where you fast for 16 hours and eat in the remaining 8 hours. Most people skip breakfast and fast till 1 pm. Then they eat from 1 pm – 9 pm. Then they fast again for 16 hours etc.
- Eat-Stop-Eat – Fasting for 24 hours, once or twice per week.
- 5:2 – Consume 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days weekly. The remaining five days, you eat as normal.
Even though intermittent fasting rose in popularity, fasting has been common through human evolution, religions, cultures etc. People did not always have as much food available as we do now, and therefore went without food for extended periods. People also fast for religious reasons since the beginning of times. This is why I think fasting from time to time is more natural than eating 5-6 meals a day.
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Research has shown that intermittent fasting comes with many health benefits. It positively affects genes, hormones, and cells. It helps with losing weight and reduces insulin resistance, which lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting also lowers oxidative stress and induces cellular repair processes. It comes with heart health and brain benefits. Some studies even implied that intermittent fasting might help prevent cancer.
However, more research is needed to really know the long-term effects of intermittent fasting.
The impact of intermittent fasting on the liver
Being in the detox and liver healthy industry, I was particularly interested in the advantages of intermittent fasting for the liver. I found the research from an Australian team that researched how fasting at controlled periods of time affected the liver.
The study included mice and state-of-the-art technology to learn how fasting every other day impacted liver proteins. Lead researcher Dr. Mark Larance, from the Sydney University, said that fasting could be an effective intervention to treat diseases and improve liver health. But that it was yet unknown how fasting reprograms liver proteins, which perform a variety of essential metabolic functions. He continued to explain that they showed that HNF4-(alpha) is inhibited during intermittent fasting. This brings downstream consequences as it reduces the excess of blood proteins in inflammation or affecting bile synthesis. This new knowledge helps explain some of the already known information about intermittent fasting.
The research also uncovered that fasting every other day alters the metabolism of fatty acids in the liver. Because of this information, they can now further research glucose tolerance and regulating diabetes.
Dr. Larance explained that for the first time, they showed that HNF4-(alpha) is inhibited during intermittent fasting. This brings downstream consequences, such as reducing the excess of blood proteins in inflammation or affecting bile synthesis. This new knowledge assists in explaining some of the previously known data about intermittent fasting.
They also found out that fasting every other day changed the metabolism of fatty acids in the liver. Knowing they, they can further research glucose tolerance and the regulation of diabetes.
“What’s really exciting is that this new knowledge about the role of HNF4-(alpha) means it could be possible to mimic some of the effects of intermittent fasting through the development of liver-specific HNF4-(alpha) regulators. Last year we published research into the impact of every-other-day-fasting on humans. Using these mouse data, we can now build up improved models of fasting for better human health.” – Dr. Larance