Your gut plays a crucial role in many aspects of your life, such as your level of energy, mood, and even your immune system.
It contains over 100 million neurons and acts as a second brain, similar to the way the brain functions. Apart from this, your gut is also home to trillions of bacteria that play an essential role in your overall health.
Does gut health affect other parts of the body?
- Research shows that most chronic health conditions begin in the gut from leaky gut syndrome to irritable bowel syndrome to nutrient deficiencies to obesity.
- While research on intermittent fasting is still ongoing, many studies have shown positive results when it comes to weight loss, reducing inflammation, improving insulin sensitivity, lowering triglycerides, increasing HDL cholesterol levels, and improving fertility.
- And research is also showing how important gut health is to overall health. A healthy microbiome improves your immune system response; combats diseases like cancer; reduces inflammation; regulates hormones; converts food into energy more efficiently; regulates appetite, among other things.
Foods to eat and avoid when intermittent fasting
You can eat most foods when fasting, with some exceptions. It's important to consider which type of intermittent fasting you're using when choosing your food options.
The 16/8 method is going without any food for 16 hours and then eating during an 8-hour window.
For instance, if your fast begin at 6 a.m., you could drink coffee or tea (without milk or cream) until 10 a.m., eat breakfast between 10 a.m. and noon, then eat lunch between noon and 4 p.m., followed by dinner between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., then do an 8-hour fast from 6 p.m.
How Does Fasting Heal Digestive Problems?
The first step in analyzing how intermittent fasting is beneficial for digestive problems is to talk about why gut health is important. Why?
Because it’s one of those things that almost everyone would agree is good for us, but few people actually know how it works or how to take care of it properly.
The digestive system has two main components: what’s called our gut barrier, which keeps all sorts of bad stuff from getting into our bodies; and a host of bacteria that are present within our intestines. These bacteria are integral to keeping our immune systems healthy, among other vital functions.
What is Gut Health?
- The health of your gut has a major impact on your overall well-being. If you’re experiencing digestive issues, brain fog, or skin problems, it could be because of your gut health. The effects can be debilitating, so it’s important to pay attention to warning signs.
- The worst part is that many common gut problems don’t have any noticeable symptoms until they become severe enough to cause serious discomfort.
- These issues often go undiagnosed for years; if you know what to look for, it can help you keep tabs on your gut health before things get out of hand.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
- In a nutshell, intermittent fasting (IF) is a pattern of eating that involves restricting your eating window to a certain time period normally an 8-hour eating window and abstaining from food for the rest of your day.
- There are several different approaches, including alternate-day fasting (restricting calories every other day), which has been shown to improve gut health.
- But regardless of whether you stick with traditional calorie restriction or choose one that focuses on something else like insulin sensitivity, IF has been linked to an array of health benefits: protecting against heart disease, promoting weight loss, preventing cancer, and more. It's even said to make cells younger and help slow down aging!
Gut Health and Intermittent Fasting
- Considering You Should Have a Lot More Real Food in Your Diet One thing we know for sure is that not all foods are created equal.
- We think that people should generally focus on eating more real food in their diet; they should try to avoid processed food as much as possible (unless they are making it themselves) because eating more real food can help you lose weight, improve your gut health, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, and so much more.
- At least one study has shown that intermittent fasting is particularly beneficial for gut health. People who fast intermittently tend to have higher levels of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are associated with healthy intestinal function.
Can intermittent fasting help with gut health?
With many studies showing that eating too much meat increases the risk of stomach cancer, a healthy diet is more than just cutting back on red meat.
In fact, research shows that a fasting diet can be beneficial in reducing stress and improving memory (as well as gut health).
While there are many ways to go about intermittent fasting some more extreme than others research has shown one very effective method: alternate-day fasting (ADF). In ADF, you eat regularly for 24 hours and then fast for 24 hours. For example, on Tuesday you eat all your meals; Wednesday through Friday you fast. You eat normally again on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday... repeat!
Is intermittent fasting bad for my metabolism?
- Most people think intermittent fasting means you eat whatever you want, whenever you want it. That's not true if that were true, why would I recommend it to anyone?
- The first rule of intermittent fasting is that it requires self-control and some sacrifice. The second rule is that intermittent fasting will help improve your metabolism as long as you do it correctly.
- I find when people say intermittent fasting isn't good for your metabolism, they often misunderstand what good means. It's important to clarify what your goals are with regard to diet: If you're trying to lose weight then no, don't do intermittent fasting!
- Use a caloric deficit or simply eat less instead; these are much more effective than skipping meals for weight loss.
How do I know if intermittent fasting is right for me?
Intermittent fasting is a style of eating that involves short periods of time where you don’t eat. While there are different ways to do intermittent fasting, it’s most commonly broken down into two types: Leangains, which involves daily 16-hour fasts and an 8-hour eating window; and 5:2, which has people fasting for 2 days a week while eating normally for the other 5 days.
The choice between these plans depends on your lifestyle. If you exercise regularly or just want to skip breakfast because it gives you more energy throughout your day, then Leangains might be right for you.
What science says about intermittent fasting and the gut microbiome
Our guts harbor a diverse array of microorganisms. Like an entire ecosystem, our intestines contain trillions of microbes collectively called our gut microbiome that help to digest food, synthesize vitamins, and keep harmful bacteria at bay.
These beneficial bugs are crucial for keeping your gut healthy; they produce chemicals that boost your immune system and protect against disease-causing organisms.
Studies have also shown that changes in gut microbiota can affect behaviors like anxiety, depression, feeding habits, memory formation, and even metabolism.
What should you eat for gut health during intermittent fasting?
I’m sure you can guess what my answer is. If you haven’t eaten for 16 hours, your body may need some help recovering from that fast.
I would suggest eating plenty of plant-based foods, making sure to choose from a variety of nutrients: macronutrients like carbohydrates and protein; micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.
Some studies have shown that adding probiotics to your diet can also boost gut health during intermittent fasting. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria (that can come in pill form or through fermented foods) that promote better digestion by fighting off pathogens in your gut. While more research needs to be done on how exactly probiotics affect our bodies during intermittent fasting, it’s safe to say they do support a healthy stomach!
Can intermittent fasting improve your gut health?
- If you’re thinking about trying intermittent fasting, or IF for short, it might be worth considering how it might improve your gut health.
- Your gut is home to millions of microbes that are critical for maintaining good digestive health. The fiber found in many plant foods helps feed these good bacteria, but our modern diet is loaded with highly processed foods that can actually do more harm than good when it comes to feeding these friendly little bugs.
- As a result, they often become sluggish which may trigger symptoms like bloating or diarrhea. That’s where intermittent fasting comes in: helping you give your gut a break while also providing additional nutrients to support healthy digestion.
How Does I.F. Affect Gut Health?
Research has shown that intermittent fasting causes changes in gut bacteria, which can potentially improve overall health. Researchers are still in the early stages of studying how I.F. affects gut health, but there have been promising results so far.
Specifically, I.F. has been shown to increase gut bacteria’s abilities to break down glucose (blood sugar) and produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which help to promote healthier levels of insulin sensitivity, lower the risk for type 2 diabetes, reduce cholesterol levels and decrease body weight gain. These changes suggest that I.F.
The Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Gut Health
- Along with reducing your caloric intake, fasting is another great way to improve gut health. Studies show that intermittent fasting can be as effective for controlling body weight as other forms of calorie restriction.
- One study found that subjects who fasted intermittently for three days per week lost about one pound per month by maintaining their calorie intake.
- Another study of 60 non-obese men showed that those who fasted for two days a week lost more weight than a control group.
- Overall, intermittent fasting has been shown to be an effective way to lower cholesterol levels and improve insulin sensitivity, which promotes better gut health.
How to Boost Your Gut Health with Intermittent Fasting
Losing weight isn’t easy, but it’s especially hard if you have a gut that isn’t functioning properly. But what is gut health exactly?
It’s a term that refers to how well your body breaks down food, absorbs nutrients, and can protect itself from invaders.
A healthy gut means fewer digestive issues from reflux to gasless irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS (not to mention less frequent trips to the bathroom), and better overall well-being. How do you achieve optimal gut health?
One key strategy is intermittent fasting. It helps you build muscle mass more easily and lose fat more quickly than other types of dieting.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Anyone can safely fast for 24 hours, so it’s a great way to try IF for yourself before taking a leap of faith. Listen to your body throughout that first day.
If you find that you don’t enjoy having an empty stomach, or if fasting negatively impacts your social life (or work performance), then stop immediately.
Remember, fasting isn’t for everyone it is possible to be healthy without giving up food forever!
Many people find intermittent fasting makes them feel like they are getting better at not overeating: The psychological effects may make you less likely to want to overindulge later in life.
Which Types Of People Should Not Do I.F.?
People who aren’t physically active should not do intermittent fasting. I.F. can actually cause weight gain in such people, mainly because of a reduction in overall energy expenditure that occurs when they are fasting.
In these people, doing alternate-day intermittent fasting can lead to further weight gain, especially around their midsection. Some studies have shown that intermittent fasters who are sedentary gain even more fat mass compared to me. For those who exercise regularly.
When Do I.F. & What Can I Eat While Doing So?
There are no set rules when it comes to intermittent fasting, but there are two common points that most practitioners agree on: Do it every day, at some point.
And don’t eat for at least 18 hours. Some people choose to fast for 24 hours each day (if you do that, skip breakfast), while others might have a 12-hour fast each day (no food from 8pm until 8am).
What To Expect From Doing A Water Fast/I.F.?
Water fasting is one of two main forms of fasting. The other type is called a dry fast, which is exactly what it sounds like - consuming no water.
Water fasting consists of having only water to drink, as opposed to juice or tea. While some may call water fasting risky because you're not replacing lost nutrients with food, it actually has numerous health benefits such as weight loss and a decrease in blood pressure.
It also aids in digestion and can stimulate autophagy which clears out bad bacteria in your gut. It’s important to do a cleanse at least once per year - whether that be through juicing, doing a fast, or eating nothing but raw fruits & vegetables for several days.
Frequently Asked Questions About Intermittent Fasting
If you’re on a mission to overhaul your diet, chances are you’ve come across intermittent fasting. And it’s not surprising in recent years, intermittent fasting has become quite popular as more scientific research emerges regarding its benefits.
But just because it’s hip doesn’t mean that you can skip over important details when deciding whether to adopt an intermittent fasting routine. The following FAQ will give you some background on what it is, how it works, and who should consider using intermittent fasting as part of their daily lifestyle.
Fasting is a time-honored tradition for most religions. It helps individuals reflect, think, and improve themselves.
And science is proving that fasts are more than just ritualistic; they provide real health benefits as well.