Benefits of Fasting For The Brain

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Let’s face it, none of us are keen to give up our grub for any reason, despite studies that prove that it is a powerful approach to brain enhancement and overall health.  Why would we deprive ourselves of food? It is not the dark ages and food is available in abundance!

What Is Fasting And How Does It Work?

Everybody knows that the human species has been fasting throughout mankind’s history, whether it is for religious reasons, a typical overnight abstinence where you do not eat after a specified time or during more extended periods when food is scarce.

As seen in the Journal of Nutrition, Dr. Clive McCay subjected rats to a daily stringent diet and found a link between metabolism and lifespan in the 1930s. Upon further investigation, it was found that a higher metabolic rate corresponds with increased use of energy by the body, thus leading to shortening the lifespan of test subjects.

Following these studies, two terms emerged:

Caloric Restriction (CR):

Known also as dietary restriction, caloric restriction(CR), the only non-genetic method that extends the lifespan of worms, flies, yeast and rodents which were used as study subjects.  In layman’s terms, caloric restriction refers to constant dieting, eating specific measured amounts of food which do not lead to a deficit in nutrition.

Studies showed a delay in the aging process of up to forty percent in the test subjects with sporadic evidence in humans and non-human primates.  A 2012 NIA caloric restriction study casts a shadow over  caloric restriction, as a ~ 30% restricted diet was used in the study which is very hard to maintain in humans.  This type of diet could be harmful as the molecular effect of caloric restriction proved to be more complicated than what scientists anticipated.

Intermittent Fasting (IF):

Intermittent fasting refers to a shorter period of food intake after a short period of fasting.  In practical terms, eating less every other day or eating meals during 8 hours of the day while not taking in any food for the remaining 16 hours of every 24 hour period.  This means that you could just skip breakfast, eating your first meal at 11:00 am and your last meal before 19:00 pm at night and you are fasting intermittently.  This approach might fit in much easier with daily schedules than measuring specifically cooked meals.  Please note, that it is, however, important to eat the correct foods during the 8-hour window and not binge on fatty fast foods.

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