All anyone has to do these days is watch television, read their newsfeed, or talk to their friends and family to recognize the growing concern about unchecked inflammation within our bodies being a contributing factor to heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune conditions, anxiety, depression, hormonal problems, gut inflammation, and more. In fact, the list is almost endless when each patient’s personal history, age, and medical considerations are factored into the equation.
But in spite of the many variables involved in diagnosing inflammation, there is one treatment modality that shows promise. Plus, it has the added benefit of controlling food cravings. Keep reading to learn more about the treatment strategy known as intermittent fasting.
Apart from the unexpected benefit of intermittent fasting to control food cravings and weight gain, the practice has huge health benefits such as the reduction of lung inflammation and brain inflammation, and the control of hormone-signaling inflammation. It’s equally important to point out that these benefits are evidence-based to promote health and well-being in patients of all ages. But before we delve into those benefits, let’s first provide an overview of what intermittent fasting is and how the practice battles inflammation in the human body.
Nutritionists, athletes, and health care professionals recognize intermittent fasting as either the abstinence from food for certain hours of the day, the abstinence of food on certain days of the week, or the abstinence of food based on other time constraints to severely limit calories consumed. The three most popular types of intermittent fasting include:
There’s a lot of material available about the various types of intermittent fasting. While it’s okay to experiment with the different methods to find which one will work best for your lifestyle, you should also seek advice from an integrative and functional medical professional who recommend the best ways to fast for your exact needs and make suggestions about the best things to eat between intermittent fasting windows.
Repeated studies and fact-based evidence have shown that certain mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders can be linked to brain inflammation. These conditions can even include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. These same studies are also yielding positive results that intermittent fasting helps control inflammation of the brain, thereby helping to slow down not only the progression of these conditions, but the aging of the brain, as well!
Although it can often be difficult to pinpoint the epicenter of chronic pain to establish the most efficient form of pain relief, studies have shown that intermittent fasting can improve neuroplasticity of the brain. What does that mean in layman’s terms? It means that intermittent fasting helps the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connection. Because of this revelation, researchers are studying the role intermittent fasting may play in managing chronic pain. This is especially wonderful news for patients seeking a more holistic approach to their pain management in light of the current opioid epidemic sweeping our nation.
Oxidative stress involves free radicals within our body – otherwise known as unstable molecules – that react with other molecules like protein and DNA to cause damage and create an environment conducive to chronic disease. But studies are showing that intermittent fasting works to reduce inflammation and enhance the body’s natural ability to fight oxidative stress.
For anyone reading this that is looking for information on winning the battle against cancer, recent research on intermittent fasting is especially relevant news since the disease is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells. Although intermittent fasting has only been shown to help prevent cancer in animal studies, the research is promising to help reduce the side effects in humans receiving chemotherapy.
There’s a ton of material available in the media and online regarding intermittent fasting. In fact, it’s become a very popular term in our modern vernacular. But before you rush into it thinking that you’re doing your body a world of good, remember that everything has limitations and peak performance guidelines. For that reason, it’s strongly suggested that you contact a physician who is board certified in integrative and functional medicine before undertaking this lifestyle change.