Cutting-Edge Trends of the Anti-Ageing Movement Part 5: Fasting
Recent studies have found that fasting can significantly slow down the ageing process.
How you ask? Well, the short answer is that it supercharges your metabolism. This allows your body to break down nutrients and burn calories more effectively.
Fasting can also reduce the degradation of DNA that happens in your cells as you get older, alongside accelerating DNA repair.
This could then help you live a longer and healthier life.
Want the long answer? Keep reading.
What is Fasting?
First things first, fasting might be growing in popularity around the world, but what exactly is it? Well, it’s a non-conventional diet that doesn’t change what you eat, but rather when you eat.
Intermittent fasting, specifically, involves consuming food during a specific time period. Then, outside of this time period, you would eat very little food or none at all.
And there are three main ways to do it:
- Eat-stop-eat, where you fast for 24 hours once or twice per week and eat normally the rest of the time
- 5:2, where you eat your normal diet for five days and then consume 500-600 calories on two days of the week that aren’t consecutive
- 16/8, where you skip breakfast and limit your eating period to 8 hours and then fast for 16 hours, or you can modify this to a 12-hour eating period followed by a 12-hour fast
That said, there are many variations of intermittent fasting. It’s just about finding a method that works for you and your lifestyle.
What Happens to Your Body During Fasting?
To understand the anti-ageing benefits of fasting, it’s important to understand what happens to your body when you starve it of food.
Usually, when you consume carbohydrates, the body uses them as fuel.
Having said that, when they’re not there (if you’re fasting for instance), it looks elsewhere for energy in a process called gluconeogenesis.
What does this mean, you ask? Well, gluconeogenesis is when your body sources glucose from non-carbohydrates like amino acids. And evidence of it can be found by assessing the levels of metabolites in the blood, such as carnitines and butyrate.
The Effects of Chemical Changes in Your Cells
Naturally, your number of metabolites decline as you grow older. However, when you practise fasting, scientists have found that people’s levels of metabolites can increase in the blood.
They have also found other unexpected metabolic changes.
For example, there’s an increase in products of the citric acid cycle that happens in mitochondria when you fast, which has a function to release stored energy.
This then thrusts mitochondria into overdrive, having a positive effect on your energy levels.
There’s also an increase in levels of purine and pyrimidine, which are chemicals that indicate when increased protein synthesis and gene expression has occurred.
This means that the cells are forced to switch up the type and quantity of proteins they need to function, resulting in cell (and skin) rejuvenation.
(But more on this in the next section!)
What Are the Anti-Ageing Benefits of Fasting?
Regardless of whether the fast is temporary or intermittent, the metabolic occurrences that happen at a cellular level have several anti-ageing benefits.
1. It Increases Your Antioxidant Levels
Firstly, did you know that your body’s cells are broken down by free radicals as you grow older?
These are the pesky molecules that can potentially cause cell damage.
However, the elevated levels of metabolites in your blood that occurs during fasting can also increase your body’s levels of antioxidants, therefore, preventing cell damage from occurring.
2. It Encourages Cell Repair
As a result of calorie restriction, your cells are able to successfully remove more waste.
Alongside raised antioxidant levels, this can also stop any possible cell damage in its tracks.
3. It Helps Maintain Healthy DNA
As we mentioned earlier, fasting encourages gene expression in your cells.
This is the process where the instructions in our DNA are converted into a functional protein, which can then slow down DNA degradation and promote longevity in the body.
4. It Fights Inflammation
Fasting is also known to reduce inflammation, which decreases the likelihood of chronic conditions that occur as you age.
Consequently, this has a positive impact on your skin, eliminating any swelling and puffiness and creating a firmer, more even tone.
5. It Helps You to Lose Weight
Additionally, because your body is looking elsewhere to burn carbohydrates, fasting can help you to lose weight and abdominal fat.
And do you know what else? The raised metabolites in your blood can aid muscle maintenance.
Ultimately, this can improve your health and prevent chronic diseases that may shorten your lifespan.
6. It Has Positive Hormonal Changes
The drop in insulin levels that occurs during calorie restriction stimulates positive hormonal changes in your body.
This can then lead to the prevention of diabetes and improved longevity.
7. It Raises Your NAD+ Levels
Lastly, long periods of fasting can raise your NAD+ levels, which is a coenzyme present in your cells linked to metabolism.
NAD+ has an instrumental role in all essential biological processes and uses the nutrients we eat to aid the cells in exchanging and producing energy.
The results are as follows:
- It improves your memory and focus
- Increases your energy levels
- Restores youthfulness
- Reduces inflammation
- Aids your circadian rhythm, which determines when you feel tired, awake, hungry or active
In addition to fasting, you can also raise your NAD+ levels through supplementation, which some may consider a safer or more convenient anti-ageing option.
Research shows that intermittent fasting and restricting your daily calories can deliver multiple anti-ageing benefits.
Having said that, this can be a challenge, especially for those with a hectic lifestyle.
Even though sticking to this type of diet might not be feasible for most people in the long run, consider that it might not be advisable for you at all if you have a pre-existing condition.
That’s why it’s important to consult a health professional if you have any questions or concerns.
This concludes the “Cutting-Edge Anti-Ageing Trends” blog post series. We hope you enjoyed it!