College of DuPage Nursing Student Hanna Othman shared with Healthy Lombard that in prehistoric times, our ancestors engaged in intermittent fasting; not because they chose to but because of limited food sources. They often went days without eating yet, still survived. This was before farming when our ancestors used to hunt and gather due to limited food choices. According to Mark Mattson (2020), a neuroscientist at John Hopkins, our ancestors survived and thrived without eating for long durations of time as it took much time and energy for hunting and gathering. Today, many individuals participate in intermittent fasting to lose weight and may also enjoy awesome health benefits.
Intermittent fasting involves regular periods or intervals of fasting between meals. The schedule is highly individualized according to personal and bodily needs. All methods of intermittent fasting may be effective, but it is key to find one that works for you.
Mattson’s research demonstrated several health benefits associated with intermittent fasting such as weight loss, longevity, and mental sharpness. Some studies demonstrate intermittent fasting can boost working memory, improve blood pressure, resting heart rate, and improve overall heart function. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that physical performance may improve in those with diabetes, or obesity, however, it is recommended to consult with a primary healthcare provider before engaging in intermittent fasting.
If your practitioner approves it, the benefits will likely outweigh the difficulty associated with fasting and since our lifestyle is progressively sedentary, intermittent fasting may force us to change the habit of snacking while sitting. Our bodies are amazing and may need to adapt to new habits in place of those developed to facilitate survival.
de Cabo, R., & Mattson, M. P. (2020). Effects of intermittent fasting on health, aging, and disease: The New England Journal of Medicine. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1905136
Monique Tello, M. (2020). Intermittent fasting: Surprising update. Retrieved October 11, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156\