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4 Ways Intermittent Fasting Improves Brain Health

July 23, 2021
By: Arootah
4 min read
It's all about the brain. From blood pressure to the microbiome, intermittent fasting optimizes everything necessary for brain health.

Since there is so much emphasis on mental well-being to prevent strokes and degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease, you probably prioritize your brain health. While it only makes up 2% of your body weight, it uses 20% of the blood supply during its function. The brain communicates with other organs in the body via the autonomic nervous system. It affects every process vital to life.

Your lifestyle and diet can significantly affect the rate at which your brain ages. Protein misfolding is a recurrent cause of many neurodegenerative diseases. There is evidence that intermittent fasting slows brain aging and enhances brain health by removing damaged and misfolded proteins that build up. Intermittent fasting improves brain health and mitigates common ailments.

Methods of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting refers to an eating schedule in which meals are delayed, scattered, or skipped to receive health benefits. One practice involves a full day where you eat nothing, followed by a day when you consume food. However, shorter intraday fasts are more popular. Another standard intermittent fasting model is the 16/8 fast which entails fasting 16 hours a day and eating 8 hours a day. This fasting mode is popular because it’s shorter and less intense than fasting for 24 hours or longer.

Several studies show that intermittent fasting is an effective way of losing weight. But it isn’t just about achieving a lower number on the scale, intermittent fasting also has many other benefits. Let’s look at how some of the benefits relate to brain health.

  1. Lowers blood pressure

Intermittent fasting may protect against heart disease by lowering blood pressure. High blood pressure damages the blood vessels that carry blood to your brain. Healthy blood pressure lowers the risk of brain-damaging events such as a stroke. Several studies show that intermittent fasting reduces blood pressure by altering the gut microbiome.

There is a close relationship between the gut and the brain. This is due to millions of nerves, including the vagus nerve connecting them together. The enteric nervous system (the system of nerves found in the gut lining) is your “second brain”. Your gut health affects more than just digestion. The microbes and bacteria in the gut affect overall health and control inflammation. Healing the gut positively affects the brain and body.

  1. Improves insulin sensitivity

Another benefit of intermittent fasting is that it improves insulin sensitivity, making it easier to control blood sugar and body weight. Researchers discovered that high blood sugar levels shrink the hippocampus, according to this study published in Neurology. This part of the brain controls cognition and memory, losing volume with age. Thus, intermittent fasting may reduce brain aging.

  1. Improves mental health

Because intermittent fasting improves your brain’s ability to clear misfolded proteins, it may also lower your risk of mental health problems. Some psychiatric disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia, are linked to reduced autophagy, the housekeeping process in the brain that removes old cells and proteins. Fasting promotes autophagy, allowing new, healthy cells to regenerate and clear out damaged cells. One study found that people who fast reported a reduction in anger, tension, and aggressive feelings.

  1. Lowers the risk of obesity

Intermittent fasting lowers the risk of weight gain and obesity, which affects the brain. A 2020 study found that obesity reduces brain function and increases the risk of dementia. Extra fat triggers inflammation that injures brain tissues. Intermittent fasting also appears to reduce inflammation. By taking control of your weight, you can lower the risk of brain diseases.

The bottom line

Intermittent fasting improves brain health and mitigates common ailments. It may be one of the more intriguing methods for weight loss since it can prevent many problems later in life. By not eating for a certain number of hours each day, you can significantly cut your caloric intake. The other potential health perks, including numerous brain health benefits, make this a worthy regimen. Consider going on a fast if you want to improve your brain and reduce the risk of brain diseases. Before starting an intermittent fasting plan, talk to your physician and make sure that the diet plan is right for you.  

Have you tried intermittent fasting? Leave a comment and let us know if you experienced any benefits from it!

 

References:

Kerti, L., et al. “Higher Glucose Levels Associated with Lower Memory and Reduced Hippocampal Microstructure.” Neurology, vol. 81, no. 20, 2013, pp. 1746–1752., doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000435561.00234.ee.

“Fasting: How Does It Affect Your Heart and Blood Pressure” 03 Feb. 2020, health.clevelandclinic.org/fasting-how-does-it-affect-your-heart-and-blood-pressure/.

Maifeld, András, et al. “Fasting Alters the Gut Microbiome Reducing Blood Pressure and Body Weight in Metabolic Syndrome Patients.” Nature Communications, vol. 12, no. 1, 2021, doi:10.1038/s41467-021-22097-0.

Sui, Sophia X., and Julie A. Pasco. “Obesity and Brain Function: The Brain–Body Crosstalk.” Medicina, vol. 56, no. 10, 2020, p. 499., doi:10.3390/medicina56100499.

Grajower, Martin M., and Benjamin D. Horne. “Clinical Management of Intermittent Fasting in Patients with Diabetes Mellitus.” Nutrients, vol. 11, no. 4, 2019, p. 873., doi:10.3390/nu11040873.

“Intermittent fasting: Surprising update – Harvard Health.” 10 Feb. 2020, health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156.

Hussin, N. M., et al. “Efficacy of Fasting and Calorie Restriction (FCR) on Mood and Depression among Ageing Men.” The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, vol. 17, no. 8, 2013, pp. 674–680., doi:10.1007/s12603-013-0344-9.

 

 

 

Information provided by Arootah is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information made available herein or otherwise through any of Arootah’s Programs and Services. You should consult your physician or other licensed health care professional before starting any diet, exercise plan or regimen, or any other fitness or wellness program. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.

By: Arootah

1 Comment

  1. Yes and I think it gives more energy! I can go all day and eat in the afternoon and evening. I can’t go a full day.

    Reply

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