Fasting and its effects on the body have been the focus of many studies and much research, mostly on animals, and the results seem to link fasting to numerous health benefits. This is the reason why Mosley created the 5:2 Diet and why people all over the world have embraced it. Weight loss, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and a reduced risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease are just some of the reasons you might want to try the 5:2 Diet. The science supporting the practice of fasting is quite compelling, and the accumulation of facts is very convincing.
People haven’t always had such an abundance of food available twenty-four hours a day like they do now. Studies that look at genes and processes in the body show that the human body has adapted to deal with situations of food scarcity, and this adaptation can be used to promote weight loss and health improvements through fasting. Here are some of the changes that occur in the body when you fast:
- When you intermittently fast, a gene known as “the skinny gene” or SIRT1 is triggered in the body. This gene inhibits fat storage and encourages cell repair and maintenance (Allard 2009).
- Fasting lowers the production of a protein called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which is linked to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, as well as aging in higher levels (Fontana 2008).
- Studies have shown that fasting lowers cholesterol levels and blood pressure (Nematy 2012).
- Other studies have documented improved blood sugar levels, increased longevity, and a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and neurological diseases (Brown 2013).
- When the body does not have to process food constantly, the pancreas can rest, which leads to increased insulin sensitivity and a reduced risk of obesity and diabetes (Hughes 1984).
- Fasting changes the environment in the body, which can limit the adaptation potential of cancer cells. The growth of five to eight types of cancer was slowed after a forty-eight-hour fast in animal studies conducted at the University of Southern California in 2009 (Raffaghello 2010).
- Fasting for forty-eight hours after chemotherapy doubled survival rates in lab animals, and preliminary human studies showed that patients experienced fewer side effects if they fasted after chemotherapy (Raffaghello 2010).
- Fasting can decrease the oxidative damage done by free radicals because it increases the stress resistance in cells, which can reduce the risk of cancer (Sohal 1996).
- Studies conducted over many years on people who eat 30 percent fewer calories than normal show less cancer, obesity, inflammation, heart disease, and diabetes (Fontana 2004).
- Fasting for as little as sixteen hours increases the level of a protein called brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) by between 50 and 400 percent. BDNF is essential for memory and learning, and it protects the brain from changes in the cells linked to dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease (Mattson 2005).
- The progression of the metabolic and neuropathological abnormalities linked with Huntington’s disease is slowed with fasting in animal studies (Wenzhen 2003).