Welcome back. This week I’m attending via Livestream a functional medicine conference as part of my certification program. The conference is focusing on the topic of cardiometabolic health which happens to be an area that I am passionate about.
In my last post, I highlighted information what makes up our metabolic health and why this is important to know. It’s so synchronous that the conference is on cardiometabolic health. In the coming months, I look forward to bringing you up to date information on information in this rapidly changing field particularly as it pertains to how we can use food as medicine.
As you may know, the month of February is heart disease awareness month, and Friday, February 7 was “Go red for women day” in which women were encouraged to wear red and spread awareness that heart disease accounts for more deaths in women than breast cancer.
Having good metabolic health reduces the risk of developing heart disease, by reducing risk factors related to lifestyle.
As a recap, metabolic health looks at five measurements. (The numbers parenthesis show the normal range).
• Triglycerides (normal less than 150 mg/dL)
• Waist circumference (women less than 35 inches; men less than 40 inches)
• Fasting blood sugars (less than 100 mg/dL; or A1c less than 5.7%)
• Blood pressure (less than 120/80 mm Hg)
• Body weight (BMI less than 25.0)
Tons of research shows that we can improve our overall health when we make changes to our lifestyle by improving our diet and getting more exercise. By so doing, we can also improve our metabolic health.
However, there is a simple lifestyle strategy we can add as an adjunct to diet. This strategy is called intermittent fasting.
Fasting is merely cutting out food for some time. It may be as short as a few hours in 24 hours to days and even months. When most people hear the word fasting, they feel there is no way that they can do this. They think that if they fast, they will be left feeling hungry and deprived of food. It may be true for the initial period as the body is adjusting. With time, the hunger cravings get better. Fasting requires self-discipline. But there are many benefits to fasting.
The benefits of fasting
Fasting has a myriad of proven benefits. One significant fasting benefit is that it helps to improve our metabolic health. Fasting does this by improving insulin resistance. Improved insulin resistance means that our cells become more efficient at taking in and breaking down glucose. This reduces the risk of diabetes. Fasting also helps improve the gut microbiome (more on this fascinating topic later). Fasting also helps with weight loss.
In women, fasting has also been found to have benefit when it comes to breast cancer. In a review of data between 2009-2010 of women participating in a study, they were able to determine that the longer an overnight fast, the better was blood glucose control and also reduced the risk of breast cancer.
Some other benefits of fasting include:
- Reduces oxidative stress and cellular inflammation
- Improves brain function
- Fasting helps with weight management.
How to start Intermittent Fasting
There are many ways to fast. One of the easiest ones to start is intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is fasting for a certain amount of time during a 24 -hour period. I often explain to patients and clients that they can easily incorporate at least a 12-hour intermittent fasting period into their lifestyle simply by leaving 12 hours between dinner and our first meal the next day. For instance, if you have dinner at 6 PM, a 12-hour intermittent fast means that you will not eat until 6 AM the following day. It’s that simple.
Now fasting will require a mindset shift, For instance, you may have a habit of having a late night snack. To be successful at intermittent fasting, you will have to give this up. Instead, try having a cup of herbal tea.
If you have diabetes type 2 and you are taking medications, do not embark on fasting without first consulting your healthcare provider. You may need to have your medications adjusted and closely monitor your blood sugars to make sure that you do not develop hypoglycemia.
There are other methods of fasting that can get more detailed and complicated and beyond the scope of this article. But start small.
Please consult your healthcare provider, or if you would like to learn more about how fasting can improve your metabolic health.
You can also schedule a free initial discovery consultation with me by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,
Here’s to your health and wellbeing,