What Intermittent Fasting Does to Your Brain
A lot of you know that intermittent fasting can provide some amazing physical benefits for your body. It can help you burn fat and keep it off while enjoying the foods you love in a sustainable nonrestrictive way. but the effects that it has on your brain, your mental clarity, your cognitive ability and in turn your productivity are absolutely incredible. And that’s exactly what I want to go over today, the benefits of fasting on your brain and your mind. We’ve been taught that eating at least three square meals a day is necessary to have a healthy body and mind. Instead of relying on our natural hunger signals many of us have become accustomed to eating out of routine and for entertainment and enjoyment rather than out of true hunger.
This has caused many people in the developed world to gain weight, body fat, and develop insulin resistance. Ironically thanks to this, fasting has emerged as a practical, and sustainable solution for weight loss, but fasting has been practiced for centuries before weight gain and obesity became a problem due to the fact that it has so many other benefits especially within the realm of cleansing and healing. One of these benefits is known as autophagy which is when your body destroys old or damaged cells. When you constantly eat your body stays in a building mode and it has no reason to enter this natural, regulated process of autophagy were unnecessary and dysfunctional components of your cells are destroyed and cleared out. It’s activated when you stop eating for a period of time and that doesn’t mean that you have to fast for a long extended time frame. Fasting for more than 6 hours begins this cleansing phase, so you can experience the benefits with a simple intermittent fasting approach, where you fast for only 16 hours a day.
Autophagy is essentially a way for the body to repair and cleanse itself and we definitely want to allow our bodies to undergo this process because If old or damaged cells stay in your body, they create inflammation and other problems. This natural process of destroying the old allows our bodies to bring in the new. Which leads to many benefits for your brain. Dr. Mark Mattson has been studying the brain for well over 20 years. He’s a professor of Neurology at John Hopkins University, and he claims that fasting has been shown to increase rates of neurogenesis in the brain. Neurogenesis is the growth and development of new brain cells and nerve tissues. Higher rates of neurogenesis have been linked to increased brain performance, and improved memory, mood, and focus. This has been tested in studies that have confirmed that intermittent fasting stimulates the production of new brain cells. According to Mattson fasting only twice a week could significantly lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s and it can help you develop protective measures against damage from a stroke.
The shock of fasting stresses the brain in a good way, much like stressing your muscles when you workout. This stress leads your brain to create new cells. The benefits of exercise and fasting on the brain are linked closer than most people think. Both increase the production of protein in the brain, which in turn promotes the growth of neurons, it promotes the connection between neurons and the strength of synapses which are the junctions that connect your nerves to other nerves and allow them to send signals and communicate with each other. One of these proteins that get boosted from fasting is an important protein called BDNF. BDNF has been called “Miracle Grow For Your Brain.” It makes your brain more resilient to stress and more adaptable to change helping with the production of new brain cells and protecting your current brain cells while boosting memory, improving mood, and learning. On the other hand, low levels of BDNF are linked to dementia, Alzheimer’s…