Intermittent Fasting & Gut Health

Intermittent fasting is an eating plan that switches between fasting and eating on a regular schedule and is a way to manage your weight and even possible prevent chronic disease.

Many functions of the gastrointestinal tract exhibit robust circadian or sleep-wake rhythms. For example, gastric emptying and blood flow are greater during the daytime than at night and metabolic responses to a glucose load are slower in the evening than in the morning. Therefore, it is plausible that a chronically disturbed circadian profile may affect gastrointestinal function and impair metabolism and health.

Intermittent fasting may directly influence the gut microbiota, which is the complex, diverse, and vast microbial community that resides in the intestinal tract. Studies suggest that changes in composition and metabolic function of the gut microbiota in obese individuals may enable an “obese microbiota” to harvest more energy from the diet than a “lean microbiota” and thereby influence net energy absorption, expenditure, and storage.

Here are some potential benefits of intermittent fasting:

• Memory – intermittent fasting boosts working memory and verbal memory in adult humans.

• Cardiovascular Health. Intermittent fasting improved blood pressure and resting heart rates as well as other heart-related measurements.

• Physical Activity. Men who fasted for 16 hours showed fat loss while maintaining muscle mass and better endurance in running.

• Type 2 Diabetes & Obesity. Most of the available research shows that intermittent fasting can help people lose body weight and lower their levels of fasting glucose, fasting insulin and leptin while reducing insulin resistance, decreasing levels of leptin and increasing levels of adiponectin. It is highly recommended before practicing intermittent fasting, discuss with your doctor and how this works with insulin therapy.

• Tissue Detox and Health. Intermittent fasting may reduce tissue damage and improved surgery results.

• Evidence from decades human research points to wide-ranging health benefits of intermittent fasting, and NIA-conducted research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, have determine that intermittent fasting yields benefits and is feasible for humans when practiced over the long term, such as for years, and that further research is warranted.

It is well known that in humans, even a single fasting interval (e.g., overnight) can reduce basal concentrations of metabolic biomarkers associated with chronic disease such as insulin and glucose. For example, patients are required to fast for 8-12 hours before blood draws to achieve steady-state fasting levels for many metabolic substrates.

Therefore, the important clinical and scientific question is whether adoption of a regular intermittent fasting regimen is a feasible and sustainable population-based strategy for promoting metabolic health. In addition, research is needed to test whether these regimens can complement or replace energy restriction and if so, whether they support long-term weight management. Below, we briefly summarize the major conclusions that can be drawn based on the current evidence.

Nature Got It Right