In the media this week there is a buzz around banning eating on public transport. This will upset some people but there are lots of benefits to cutting down on how often we eat and hunger is not dangerous!
We are socially conditioned to fear hunger, told fasting is dangerous and we have been told by ‘who knows who’ that we need to eat regularly, to ‘keep our metabolism going’.
This is not only wrong but it is promoting insulin resistance that leads to type 2 diabetes, obesity, hormone imbalances and in some cases cancer. Insulin is released every time we eat and insulin is a storage and growth hormone and humans are not supposed to be in growth and storage mode all day. There are numerous studies that link calorie restriction and fasting to longevity.
Why Going Without Food For a Bit is A Good thing
- Firstly, it is not possible to burn fat when the body is in storage mode and insulin is high, this has been demonstrated over and over in studies.
- Secondly, if insulin is high all day the body starts to ignore it and become ‘insulin resistant’ which is the 1st step in becoming a type 2 diabetic, some children as young as 10 are insulin resistant already.
- Thirdly, when food is around or ‘nutrient abundance’ a out bodies main growth switch mTOR is on all the time and mTOR will stimulate the growth of everything, including some cancers. mTOR is not bad at all, but it is if it is on 12/7.
Our ancestors would have gone without food for up to days at a time and the body makes specific biological changes to adapt to this, so our are genetics are geared for fasting.
- Firstly, during a fast or in the absence of food the body switches from using glucose to ketones as fuel which come from body fat. Ketones are not only a great energy source for the brain, but the are also anti-inflammatory. Learn more about ketosis HERE
- Secondly to protect muscle, growth hormone increases during fasting so you don’t ‘waste away’, growth hormone also heals tissue and helps the body break down and burn fat. If our ancestors got weak during times of no food we wouldn’t be here.
- Thirdly, brain derived neutrophic factor (BNDF) increase during a fast and this is our natural anti-depressant and it also improves cognitive functions. Our ancestors needed to keep their mental faculties sharp during food shortages.
Why Fasting Is Good for Your Health
During periods where our body is energy nutrient deprived, autophagy acts a survival mechanism to make energy.
Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2016 for his research on autophagy.
Autophagy is key for
- Removing old damaged cells , organelles & proteins
- Removing damaged mitochondria ‘The power house of the cell’ (Mitophagy)
- Reducing plaques in brain & atherosclerosis
- Lipophagy fat breakdown and connective tissue around fat cells
- Removing unwanted cells eg pre cancerous, rouge immune cells
- Activating longevity genes like FOXO & surtuins
Autophagy is like a spring clean, or ripping out an old kitchen to put a new one in. Not enough autophagy is linked to many diseases, simply because people are constantly in a ‘fed state’
I feel deeply saddened that people have been mis-informed about food and fear fasting or being hungry as it is evident in society the impact of food being forced at us wherever we go.