Intermittent fasting has long been considered as a health-enhancing tool that can help people lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Rabat – In a review article published in the New England Journal of Medicine on December 26, Johns Hopkins Medicineneuroscientist Mark Mattson, Ph.D., who has studied and adopted an intermittent fasting regime himself for 20 years, concluded that the type of diet can reduce obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Intermittent fasting can be done in two ways. The first method suggests abstaining from food for 16-18 hours a day and then eating for 6-8 hours, while the second, called 5:2 intermittent fasting, requires fasting two days a week, with only 500 calories of intake on fast days.
Mattson based his scientific research on four studies carried out on both animals and people and found that intermittent fasting also decreased blood pressure, blood lipid levels, and resting heart rates.
The neuroscientist carried out the studies at the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust on a sample of 100 overweight women.
The study showed that those on the 5:2 intermittent fasting diet lost the same amount of weight as those who restricted calories. The only difference was on measures of insulin sensitivity and reduced belly fat. In these areas, the two-day/week fasting women did better than those in the calorie-restricted group.
Intermittent fasting can also improve brain health. Signs of improved memory have been seen on a sample of 220 healthy, non-obese adults who maintained a calorie-restricted diet for two years. The multicenter clinical trial was conducted at the University of Toronto.
Mattson pointed out that it takes some time for the body to adjust to intermittent fasting and overcome initial hunger pangs.
He advised people to gradually increase the duration and frequency of fasting over the course of several months, instead of suddenly adopting it.