Friday, January 20, 2012

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting? Part One - IF and Cardiovascular Disease.

Me - "I fast most days usually between 16 - 19 hours then consume my calories in a smaller eat window usually between 3 - 9 pm."

Aquaintance - "Why would you do that. It`s not healthy?"

How many times have I heard that reply since assuming an intermittent fasting way of eating(WOE)? My last conversation on the subject got me thinking about the health benefits of intermittent fasting and how it could make for some interesting blogger fodder.

Intermittent Fasting and Heart Disease

There appears to be benefits of calorie restriction and fasting for cardiovascular health with confirmations from the usual animal studies.....

"Enhance[s] cardiovascular...functions and improve[s] several risk factors for coronary artery disease and stroke including a reduction in blood pressure and increased insulin sensitivity" and that "cardiovascular stress adaptation is improved and heart rate variability is increased in rodents" and that "rodents maintained on an IF regimen exhibit increased resistance of heart and brain cells to ischemic injury in experimental models of myocardial infarction and stroke."


Recent studies on human subjects by the American College of Cardiology have determined that intermittent fasting decreases your risk of developing heart disease....."HDL(good) cholesterol increases while triglycerides decreased during an intermittent fast."

The Mormon study in Utah confirmed that even periodic fasting resulted in lower risk factors.....

"ACC had also previously found that those who fast for at least one day each month, have a lower chance of developing coronary heart disease.This study included 200 Mormon residents of Salt Lake City, Utah......most Mormons tend to fast for 24 hours at least once a month for religious reasons, making them perfect long-term candidates for this study."

A balanced article from the New York Times regarding the Mormon study, ACC and previous research on the effect of fasting on cardiovascular health......especially at the hormetic level.

"There is a lot more to be done to fill in the research on the biological mechanism,’’ Dr. Horne said. “But what it does suggest is that fasting is not a marker for other healthy lifestyle behaviors. It appears to be that fasting is causing some major stress, and the body responds to that by some protective mechanisms that potentially have a beneficial long-term effect on risk of chronic disease.”

 A Pubmed.gv document if you are so inclined to read the research. A possible link between fasting and exercise for heart health.If I understand this correctly IFing may be even more beneficial for sedentary/inactive individuals.

"Interestingly, cellular and molecular effects of IF and CR on the cardiovascular system (and the brain) are similar to those of regular physical exercise, suggesting shared mechanisms."

As is expected there are always naysayers(which is a good thing) who offer alternative views on any controversal dietary/nutritional subject. Fasting is not exempt from this spotlight with studies(?) indicating that breakfast skippers often end up with cardiovascular health issues.....

"In the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Australian researchers examined whether breakfast skippers are setting themselves up for heart disease and diabetes.....Turns out those who tended to skip breakfast as kids and adults had a larger waist circumference and significantly higher insulin, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels—all warning signs for heart disease and diabetes—than those who regularly ate breakfast as kids and adults."

 That begs the question of what actually causes the health concerns; extending an overnight fast by skipping morning meals or what foods are consumed once the breakfast skippers opted to eat?

Mike from The IF Life sums it up appropriately here........

"The real message is that if you eat less quality of foods, gain weight, smoke and drink more all because you skip breakfast, then perhaps you need a new plan......"

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