Intermittent fasting—going without calories for a set time, typically 12 hours or longer—continues to gain attention within the scientific and medical communities. Fasting is associated with a number of spiritual practices and has long been used in traditional healing systems as a prescription for enhanced health and longevity. Today, an increasing number of studies demonstrate that some form of calorie restriction may decrease disease risks, promote healthy weight loss, increase lifespan, and rejuvenate numerous areas of health.
It’s important to note that prolonged fasting or severe calorie restriction can be difficult and potentially dangerous. However, intermittent fasting (IF) and fasting-mimicking diets (FMD) are much less restrictive. A growing body of clinical and scientific data suggest these modified forms of fasting can have significant benefits for critical areas of health, including glucose regulation, cardiovascular function, inflammatory response and more.
One type of intermittent fasting is termed “Time Restrictive Feeding” (TRF), where caloric intake is limited to a specific time period during a 24-hour cycle. Participants can eat whatever they want during that window, though experts recommend healthy, unprocessed foods. One of the more popular methods of TRF is the “16/8” approach, where daily caloric intake is limited to an 8-hour window; the remaining 16 hours are the fasting period.
Published studies continue to show the benefits of TRF as well as other forms of intermittent fasting. One recent clinical study showed that a TRF diet promoted weight loss and reduced blood pressure in obese individuals. A preclinical study showed that TRF effectively reversed the progression of metabolic diseases in mice with pre-existing obesity and Type 2 diabetes, even when the diet was periodically interrupted. Another recent observational study showed that intermittent fasting, using an alternate-day fasting program for ten months, eliminated the need for diabetes medication in subjects.
Targeted Antioxidants and Nutrients
While many proponents of intermittent fasting point out that these types of diets are easier to follow because they allow for a diverse selection of foods, experts also assert that the quality of calories can play a critical role. This is especially important during a “fasting mimicking diet” where participants periodically restrict calories on certain days, with a focus on foods and supplements containing antioxidants and other important co-factors during that time.
Research continues to demonstrate the benefits of targeted antioxidants and nutrients in supporting healthy glucose balance, insulin function, cardio-metabolic health, and other related areas.
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While the benefits of intermittent fasting continue to emerge in the published literature, it’s important to discuss specific dietary changes with your health provider to ensure optimal results. There is no one size fits all diet, but with slight modifications adapted to each individual, this simple approach to eating may offer a promising strategy to support long-term health and wellness, naturally.