What Is Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) encompasses eating patterns in which individuals go extended time periods (e.g., 16-48h) with little or no energy intake, with intervening periods of normal food intake, on a recurring basis.

IF has shown excellent results in improving general health, and preventing and managing major diseases of aging. [1]

Intermittent Fasting Results

Four human trials of Time-restricted Feeding (TRF), (4–10-hr feeding periods) have been conducted to date. Surprisingly, the results of TRF in humans appear to depend on the time of day of the eating window.

1 – Body Weight

Restricting food intake to the middle of the day (mid-day TRF) reduced body weight or body fat. Moreover, it reduced glucose and insulin levels, insulin resistance, hyperlipidemia, and inflammation. On the other hand, restricting food intake to the late afternoon or evening (after 16:00 hr.; late TRF) either produced mostly null results or worsened.

2 – Antioxidant & Anti-inflammatory

There are also The Mediterranean diet (MeDi), the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, and the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MINDintermittent fasting) diet, which show health benefits. Indeed, these  dietary patterns are well-known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

3 – Neuro-protection

Recently, they have been related to brain protection and AD prevention, perhaps thanks to their high content of neuroprotective bioactive compounds.

Similarly, intermittent fasting (IF) or calorie restriction (CR) is emerging as interesting approaches.

It seems to promote hippocampal neurogenesis, activate adaptive stress response systems, and enhance neuronal plasticity.

As a result, this leads to motor and cognitive improvements in animal models of AD and hopefully also in human beings. [2]

A review indicated that IF may mitigate tissue damage and neurological deficit following ischemic stroke by a mechanism(s) involving suppression of excitotoxicity, oxidative stress, inflammation and cell death pathways in animal stroke models. [3]

Studies of IF (e.g., 60% energy restriction on 2 days per week or every other day), PF (e.g., a 5 day diet providing 750–1100 kcal) and time-restricted feeding (TRF; limiting the daily period of food intake to 8 h or less) in normal and overweight human subjects have demonstrated efficacy for weight loss and improvements in multiple health indicators including insulin resistance and reductions in risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

IF improves DNA repair and autophagy (body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells).

PF also promotes stem cell-based regeneration as well as long-lasting metabolic effects. [4]

In Conclusion

Alzheimer disease (AD) and Parkinson disease (PD) are the two most common neurodegenerative disorders in people older than 70. The major risk factor for both diseases is age. The number of individuals afflicted with AD or PD is rising rapidly because life expectancy has increased as a result of great advances in the medical field. Therefore, people live longer.

So diets that retard ageing and thereby reduce disease risk may be of great value for everyone. In animal laboratory studies, IF extends the average lifespan by up to 40% and protects against major chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes and kidney diseases. [5]

To conclude, moderation of energy intake reduce the risk of AD and PD, and exercise reduces clinical symptoms in many patients with AD and PD.

Moreover, a study showed that PD is likely rooted in heightened inflammation and oxidative stress at the cellular level. Physical activity and exercise as a means of reducing inflammation have led to increased interest in related potential therapies for PD. [6]

[1] Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27810402

[2] Nutrients in the Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31565158

[3] Positive effects of intermittent fasting in ischemic stroke: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0531556516304284

[4] Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568163716302513

[5] Intermittent metabolic switching, neuroplasticity and brain health: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568163716302513

[6] The best medicine? The influence of physical activity and inactivity on Parkinson’s disease: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27477046