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Can Fasting Add Years to Your Life? The Benefits of Fasting for Disease Prevention and Longevity

intermittent fasting


You probably have heard the terms "intermittent fasting" or "time-restricted eating" by now. It had a moment in the media a few years ago, and unlike many other “health fads”, fasting is here to stay. And for good reason!


Fasting is about not taking in any calories from food or drinks for extended periods of time. The benefits kick in from 12 hours onwards.


I first solidified my understanding of this topic when I came across the work of Dr. Mindy Pelz and read her book Fast Like A Girl, which I highly recommend. With fasting, I was able to lose body fat, lift off my brain fog, and get a boost of energy in my day.


At the cellular level, the benefits of fasting for disease prevention and longevity are staggering. This blog will dive into how fasting is one of the most effective tools to add years to your life.


What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger


The human body thrives when it is exposed to the right levels of challenge.

Think about the health benefits of lifting heavy weights, cold plunges, and saunas. These are all mechanisms that trigger a process called hormesis, which is an adaptive cellular response to moderate stressors, which ultimately makes the body stronger.


Practicing intermittent fasting
Humans are Wired for Fasting


Fasting is one of those tools that acts as a good challenge to the body. It acts as a signal that times ahead might be tough, and so the body needs to be “on form” to handle it.


We are built to go long periods without eating. Back in the day, when food was scarce, people would go for days without eating. We are still able to do so today, but we just fell out of that habit with the abundance of highly palatable foods everywhere.


intermittent fasting only black coffee

6 Main Mechanisms of Fasting that Support Health and Longevity


Fasting helps achieve physiological and metabolic changes in the body which enables it to fend of chronic diseases and activate longevity pathways, using six main mechanisms:


1.     Fasting Improves Metabolic Health: When we fast, we are training our body to use an alternate source of energy to glucose, called ketones which are derived from the breakdown of fat stores, leading to targeted fat loss.


Recent studies have also shown that intermittent fasting increases the rates of insulin-mediated glucose uptake, meaning fasting helps with blood sugar balancing and protects against insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes.


2.     Fasting Triggers Cellular Repair: Fasting stimulates autophagy, a built-in process of cellular cleanup, repair, and regeneration. Think of it as routine “housekeeping” for your body.

This process protects against cell dysfunction, prevent tumour growth, and prevents the building of beta-amyloid, the plaque that causes neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, as shown in this recent study.


3.     Fasting Reduces Inflammation and Oxidative Stress: Whenever we consume food to make energy, our cells naturally produce “unstable” molecules called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), which are produced to a lesser degree when we fast. Antioxidants from colourful fruits and vegetables work to stabilise the ROS.


Oxidative stress happens when there is an excess of ROS, or deficiency in antioxidants from our diet. It is closely linked with inflammation, and together can expedite the aging process and make the body more vulnerable to tipping into diseased states.


4.     Fasting Supports a Healthy Gut: Fasting gives your digestive system a much-needed break from digesting food, switching its focus on clean up and maintenance. Your gut goes through a phase of intestinal regeneration that fixes the gut barrier lining, reducing the likelihood of inflammatory bowel diseases.


In addition, as mentioned in this article, fasting also alters the composition of your microbiome, by creating an environment where bad bacteria start to die off, and good bacteria can thrive.


5.     Fasting Enhances Brain Function: Not only does fasting provide an instant step-up in cognitive clarity and sharpness, but it also stimulates the production of brain-derived neurotropic factors (BDNF).

BDNF is a type of a protein that supports healthy neurons and promotes neuroplasticity.

BDNF molecules increase once ketones are circulating in the body during a fast. This paper helps elaborate on the mechanism with which fasting works to support brain health.


6.     Fasting Activates Longevity Genes: Studies have shown that fasting activates longevity genes such as SIRT1 and FOXO3, which play key roles in regulating cellular processes associated with ageing and promoting longevity.


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Ask Me Anything


Fasting remains one of the most effective and accessible health tools I use with my health coaching clients to help them create the right conditions for disease resilience and longevity.

The benefits of fasting are fascinating and so multi-faceted. The research is showing growing confidence in the benefits of fasting for disease prevention and longevity.


While anyone can have a go at intermittent fasting, it is worth learning a bit more about the "do’s and don’ts" to optimise your gains from this practice.


You can now schedule a free “Ask Me Anything” call with me to get going with a lot more clarity and confidence with fasting. Use this link to book.


Or go ahead and follow my social media account where I post about frequently post about fasting and other topics that help busy people live longer and stronger.


certified health coach in London nada soubra

More About Nada


I am a Certified Resilience & Metabolic Health Coach. I empower busy parents to boost their health resilience and live a longer, healthier life, free of chronic disease.


My approach is rooted in tried-and-tested nutrition, lifestyle, and mindset tweaks that make a huge impact on health outcomes.


I also have a special interest in helping young parents affected by cancer to overcome and thrive for the long run.


Previously, a Partner in strategy consulting, I pivoted into health coaching and founded The Healthy Chain, after a personal experience with ovarian cancer, which prompted me to make health my top priority.


I am a mum of three and I know how hard it can be to prioritise health when you are juggling a career and family. I focus on simple tweaks that fit easily into your existing life.


If you are keen to hear about simple health hacks for a long and healthy life, follow my work on Instagram here. Or subscribe to my newsletter here.

Thank you!

Nada Soubra

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