Intermittent Fasting & How it works
Let's dig into today's topic about intermittent fasting and how that can help heal your gut. So intermittent fasting, you might ask, well, what is it? What it is is simply periods of eating versus periods of refraining from eating. And in fact, fasting has been around since the fifth century, and it was believed at that time, even to help improve or help cure illness. And over the years, intermittent fasting has continued to evolve to get a better understanding of how restricted eating can help longevity and the health of your body as a whole.
Hi, I'm Marcie Vaske and I'm a functional medicine nutritionist specializing in gut health. I help people with those bothering symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and many other symptoms. If this resonates with you, you can easily make an initial appointment with us and see if we can sort out what's going on. Also, if you're interested in our free guide which is five ways to improve gut health, you better check that out.
So how can intermittent fasting help heal your gut?
Well, anytime we eat, it's actually very difficult for the body to digest food. Those that have a healthy digestive system tend to do just fine with no problems, but intermittent fasting has been shown to help those with leaky gut or intestinal permeability to help heal up the intestinal tract. And when we have a leaky gut, that means that pathogens, toxins, or even food particles are getting into our bloodstream causing inflammation, and what you would feel as food sensitivities.
Intermittent fasting also helps with autophagy. And you might say, well, what is that? Autophagy is actually where it's a process where your cells clean house and get rid of old and damaged materials in order to set up a better cleaner environment so you can feel and look younger. Intermittent fasting also helps to kind of down-regulate or reboot our system. And in fact, it allows better microbiome or more bacterial diversity in our intestinal tract giving space to set up and get rid of some of the bad bacteria that might be harboring in there. As we, kind of, reboot the system, it gives that break for our body to do the work that it needs to do by setting up healthier, types of flora.
Intermittent fasting also helps the diversity of our microbiome. So when we kind of turn the system down or by fasting, it allows for that reboot and it helps to increase the flora and the microbiome in our intestinal tract giving way for decreased chronic inflammation, and it kind of just sorts itself out. Also, the microbiome diversity helps to decrease the pathogens that might be in there. Intermittent fasting also improves the natural circadian rhythm. So you've probably heard that our wake and sleep cycles, that's kind of our body's circadian rhythm. However, it's interesting to know that our microbiome actually has its own circadian rhythm and when we're fasting, it gives chance to sort of I've used the word prior, reboot it. But what it does is that certain bacteria during our wake and sleep cycles are more plentiful. And when we're fasting, it gives that break to them and sort of resets that whole system.
So just a little recap, by fasting; you can decrease inflammation, increase your microbiome diversity, and give a reboot to your intestinal tract, helping to rid maybe some of those food sensitivities as well as just giving a break to your intestinal tract altogether. In addition, intermittent fasting can also have some advantages in lowering the risk of type two diabetes. It can also help you lose weight, and that's sometimes why a lot of people get started in it.
It also can help actually, as I said earlier, trigger that cellular repair, which is called autophagy. So you might be wondering, Hmm, this sounds kind of interesting! I might like to try this to reset my gut. So here are a few different types of intermittent fasting. There are lots of them out there, but we'll just run through a few of them.
First is the five and two. That's where you eat five days you eat normally. And for two days you're fasting. And on those two days that you are eating, you know, 500 calories or less, that's one way of doing it.
The most popular way of doing intermittent fasting is just going to be something called time-restricted eating. And with that, you're doing that each day, either a 14-hour fast or a 16-hour fast. And then on a 14-hour, you have a 10-hour eating window. And on the 16-hour fast, you have an eight-hour window. There's also the 24-hour fast. And those are all you can interplay intermingle them. However, it works best in your lifestyle. That's kind of the beauty of intermittent fasting is that you can really tailor it to what you need.
The last more popular way of intermittent fasting is going to be alternate day fasting. So you'll eat one day and then you'll fast the next day and so on. And some individuals like to consume on their fasting day 500 calories or less as well, sort of depending on what your goals are and what, um, kind of what you're looking for.
Now, one of the things that I noted earlier was intermittent fasting does increase autophagy that cellular repair. You need to fast at least up to 16 or more hours to reach that autophagy stage. So now we know what intermittent fasting is, how it can help heal the gut, and a few ways to maybe go about intermittent fasting.
But here are five strategies that you might wanna put in play, as you're thinking about which type of fasting protocol you like to begin.
First of all, you wanna fix your gut problems. So if you have pathogenic, pathogens, toxins, or some over or opportunistic bacteria in your gut, you'll wanna work with a functional medicine nutritionist to help rid yourself of that first.
Secondly, you wanna be mindful of food sensitivities. So if you're having a lot of gut issues, even going into intermittent fasting, what you wanna think about is taking some of those foods out, for instance, gluten, soy, and dairy (those are big inflammatory type foods). I recommend taking them out, leaving them out for at least six weeks. While you begin your intermittent fasting this way, lessening the inflammatory state in your body, and fasting can help even more. After that six-week period, you can try reintroducing the foods again. Now sometimes some of 'em are gonna work great and no problem after that period of time. But sometimes we just have to accept that there are food sensitivities, that we are gonna struggle with.
Another practice to incorporate while you're doing intermittent fasting or just leading a healthy nutritional diet is to keep fermented or those cultured foods. They give way to building up good bacteria in our digestive system. So all those little flora that we need can grow from them foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, or even some kefir. They are gonna be very helpful in keeping good bacteria in and the bad bacteria out.
Another practice that you might want to try as you're leading into intermittent fasting, and doing that would be having a higher fat and protein diet and reason being that it helps your blood sugar. It can help you stay fuller longer because of that, in a well-designed meal plan or diet you wanna make sure you're doing those fiber-rich carbohydrates, fermented, cultured foods, and some of those prebiotic-rich vegetables as well, just to improve your outcome.
And lastly, it's very important always to think about your gut health in the way that, we've talked about it with what foods to put in, but also you have to realize that the stress we have in our life contributes to poor gut health and the bad sleep we might have contributes to poor gut health and even just lack of exercise.
So incorporating all these strategies into trying some different types of intermittent fasting to help heal your gut is gonna give you your best outcome and your quickest outcome.
Lastly, I do wanna talk about intermittent fasting is not well suited for everybody.
So those that have had; prior or have current eating disorders, pregnant women, anyone in those situations or are being watched by a medical physician for certain disease or illness, make sure that it's covered by, or that you speak to them about what you're doing. Intermittent fasting can be great but it needs to be great for you. Sometimes even just speaking and talking with a functional medicine nutritionist, we can pinpoint which is going to be best for you.
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