As we sail past 50, we tend to keep an eye out for things that will improve our aging experience, from serums and supplements to diets, drugs, and doctrines. The products on the market are truly endless, but as it turns out, one of the best things you can do for your aging body doesn't involve buying--or buying into--anything.
You may have heard of intermittent fasting, which involves manageable, alternating periods of eating and not eating, aka fasting. The research is pretty clear that intermittent fasting is beneficial in many ways, and this may be especially true for older adults.
Here are five benefits of intermittent fasting, along with how to do it:
1. Intermittent fasting initiates cellular repair processes in your body.
Cellular damage is par for the course as we age, but fasting has been shown to induce your body’s cellular repair processes, improve hormone function, and even improves the function of genes related to disease protection and longevity.
2. Intermittent fasting promotes weight loss--especially belly fat.
Belly fat is an indication of visceral fat, which lies deep inside the abdominal cavity, surrounding your organs and contributing to disease.
Losing belly fat is tough, especially as we age, but according to a recent literature review, intermittent fasting can lead to a loss of four to seven percent of your waist circumference.
A recent study found that intermittent fasting can cause overall weight loss of three to eight percent over three to 24 weeks.
3. Intermittent fasting reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.
Inflammation and oxidative stress are major contributors to disease as we age, and they contribute to the visible signs of aging.
Intermittent fasting reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in overweight adults, according to a study by Louisiana State University Medical Center.
4. Intermittent fasting may help prevent Alzheimer's disease.
A large body of research shows that intermittent fasting is good for the brain, promoting the growth of new nerve cells, protecting against brain damage resulting from stroke, and increasing levels of a hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF.
A recent study found that intermittent fasting also delayed the onset of Alzheimer's or reduced its severity. Other studies show that intermittent fasting may offer protection against Parkinson's, Huntington's, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
5. Intermittent fasting may extend your life.
A range of recent studies have also found that intermittent fasting extended the participant's lifespan. One study found that rats fasting every other day lived 83 percent longer than non-fasting rats. Additionally, the rate of aging was slowed in the fasting rats, and their body weight and growth rates were reduced.
How to: Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is simple to do, and the various options make it easy to choose a method that works with your lifestyle and preferences.
The 16/8 Method
This method involves fasting for 16 hours each day, leaving an eight-hour window for eating two or more meals. If you tend to skip breakfast, make your eating window from noon to 8 p.m. If you like to eat an early dinner, make your eating window from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The 5:2 Method
The 5:2 method involves eating normally for five days out of the week. The other two days, keep your calorie count at 500 to 600. Your fasting days can be consecutive, or they can be split up.
This method involves a 24-hour fast once or twice each week. The rest of the week, eat normally.
During intermittent fasting, a probiotic like Thrive Naturals' Advanced Probiotic Complex will help you maintain healthy gut bacteria for optimal digestion and energy.
During your eating period, strive to consume healthy foods that are mostly plant-based. Avoid highly processed foods, added sugar, and sweetened beverages for the best results.
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