Many of the common health problems plaguing our modern world have one thing in common: Inflammation of the gut. Surprising, but true!
But here is the thing, there might be a way to say Au Revoir for good to gut health problems altogether.
Intermittent Fasting: The Upside
One of the more interesting gut healing strategies being advocated by experts is called intermittent fasting or “IF”. Intermittent fasting is a general term for a period of time in which you limit food intake or don't eat at all. I like to think of it as a chance to hit the reset button on your gut and overall health.
Intermittent fasting can be hard on you if you're new to it or if you jump in too quickly. So let’s look at some basics. There are three types of IF strategies:
- Window of rest strategy: Typically 8, 16 or 20 hours of no eating, or reduced eating, in a 24 hour period for a specific number of days in the week. This allows the gut to rest and recuperate from its daily duties
- 24 Hour Fast: As the name suggests, this requires no food or liquid (apart from water or zero calorie drink) intake for 24 hours
- Liquid Fast: This fasting strategy allows the consumption of liquids only. Liquid consumption could include water, juices, smoothies, liquid-only soups etc.
Fasting for healing has been known for centuries, yet there are many people that are not aware of it and only think of fasting/starving as a quick fix to fit into that beautiful dress ( I am guilty of doing the same, so no judgment here :))
Some proven benefits of intermittent fasting are:
- Improved balance of beneficial gut flora
- Help repair and heal a leaky gut
- Activated beneficial genes (SIRT) that aid metabolic repair and turns on antioxidant systems
- Accelerated weight and body fat loss
- Improved mental clarity and concentration
- Reduced insulin resistance, lowering the risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Intermittent Fasting isn’t for everyone: The downside
Despite these amazing benefits, intermittent fasting isn’t suitable for everyone. IF is not for you if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have diabetes or are underweight, or have an eating disorder. If under a doubt, it is always wise to talk to your GP before starting with IF.
One of the hardest things about IF that many people fall into is overcompensation. We have all had the urge to stuff ourselves with anything edible when we are really, really hungry. Many people struggle with this when doing IF. But you can only restore your gut health if you eat a healthy and balanced diet during your eating window. So that Snicker bar that you are secretly craving for more than the salad bowl, maybe leave it for another time.
There is still some controversy around whether or not intermittent fasting is right for women. Even though there isn’t much evidence, some professionals believe that women might experience hormonal imbalance. If you decide to give intermittent fasting a go then it may be best to start with an intermittent fasting schedule that is less extreme.
How to optimize the results of IF:
To optimize fasting and get all of the health benefits, you must incorporate a healthy-gut diet along with IF. And speaking of a diverse diet, I don’t mean choosing a different type of meal deal at the supermarket J I mean a varied plant-based diet rich in whole foods (especially fiber rich foods), healthy fats and some protein.
I also suggest including lots of fermented and cultured foods, such as yogurt, kimchi and coconut water, as this helps the growth of positive bacteria, which is good for your gut.
There you go, that is a quick lowdown on Intermittent Fasting. If you want us to expand on this topic hit that comment button and let us know.