Fasting: How Eating Less Equals So Much More

Many people try to fast or cut down on calories to lose weight without understanding what they’re doing, resulting in minimal success.

Chief Neuroscience Lab Researcher Mark Mattson presents an overview of his knowledge about fasting and how doing it right will not only cause weight loss but help reverse rapid aging and cognitive decline.

Mark Mattson - TEDx - Why fasting bolsters brain power


How Fasting Works
Fasting works through a few mechanisms which essentially shift the body’s energy supply from food to being self produced.

This is an evolutionary measure to ensure that animals can find food when they are hungry.

When we eat, energy is used in the liver to metabolize food. Glycogen stores begin to build in the liver. If we overeat, eat inflammation-causing foods (like sugar/starch), or eat things that we are not able to metabolize (such as artificial additives or pesticide sprays), the liver gets put under an immense amount of pressure.

When the liver battles to cope, it automatically decides to store all excess glycogen in the form of adipose tissue, also known as FAT.

When we don’t eat or indulge in fasting, the stores of glycogen in the liver become used up. This allows for energy to go elsewhere in the body, such as the brain.

Then we get hungry. Ketones get produced in response to this, burning fat as well as giving our brains and bodies additional energy!

Many people think that the body starts to use up out fat stores to produce this extra energy. However, that is a myth, as ketone production will happen regardless of whether one is obese, anorexic or somewhere in between.

There is such a thing as acidic toxicity due to heightened ketone levels in the body.

Not eating a morsel for months on end will result in this. Yet intermittent fasting and caloric restriction are healthy ways to incorporate ketones into your daily life, as well as shift the balance of energy production in the body.

The Brain-Related Benefits of Fasting
Eating less equals so much more for multiple areas of the body, ultimately increasing your lifespan!

Let’s take a closer look at what it does to your brain.

1. Enhanced Neurogenesis
Mattson mentioned that fasting leads to the release of BDNF and other neurotrophic factors in the brain.

These neurotrophic factors are compounds that neurons love! Without them, we would not be able to create more of them.Since fasting urges the body to make more of them, neurogenesis and neuroplasticity are both greatly enhanced.

This gives us better overall brain function, clearer memories and allows us to be more flexible or creative in our thoughts when solving problems. It will also make it easier if you want to learn a new skill or if you have to heal parts of your brain.

2. Better Mitochondrial Function
Fasting activates multiple energy pathways in the body as well as creating mild oxidative stress.

This encourages mitochondria to activate. When they do that, they start to produce antioxidants which protect neurons and other cells in the body from free-radical damage.

This is similar to how exercise also activates mitochondria, although while exercise is localized to muscles, fasting affects the entire body.

When mitochondria are functioning optimally, our lifespans are essentially lengthened. They are one of the primary mechanisms that make up the immune system, protecting us from the things that cause aging and rapid decline.

3. Extra Energy With Ketones
Everyone was brought up to believe that glucose is how we get our energy.

In recent decades, science has wholly debunked this idea, showing how we can get energy from multiple different food sources such as Chlorophyll or fatty acids.

When we fast, the body makes ketones, which are used as another form of fuel to allow mitochondria to create energy.

Often eating less or nothing at all conserves a lot of energy that the liver would otherwise use up to digest food. With this extra energy being freed up and ketones being produced to make even more energy, fasting will definitely give you extra energy!

It doesn’t always seem this way when one begins fasting, but it takes time for the body to adapt to fasting and shift towards this alternative energy supply.

4. Protection Against Seizures
Interestingly, Mattson points out that Ketones protect against seizures!

He made an interesting point that in ancient Greek and Roman traditions, people with seizures were said to be possessed. The cure they had was to lock them in a room without food for a day or two, and after that, the demons would leave.

Science now reveals that it was the ketones produced from fasting that caused the demons to leave, or rather, the seizures to stop.

Protection against seizures is another aspect of fasting that will increase your lifespan. Many people die of seizures every year, and for this reason, the ketogenic diet is often prescribed to those with epilepsy and similar conditions.

5. Improved Cognition
Fasting will enhance your brains ability to think clearly and remember more.

In a study done, mice were placed on a fasting diet for four days. The results were staggering, ranging from significant improvements in bone density loss to inflammation reduction to even reversing cancer[1]A Periodic Diet that Mimics Fasting Promotes Multi-System Regeneration, Enhanced Cognitive Performance, and Healthspan.

In the brain, the findings show that fasting promotes neurogenesis in the Hippocampus (the memory and learning center) as well as enhancing overall cognition from multiple avenues.

How Do I Begin?
As Mattson explains, when one begins to fast, it’s like running a marathon for the first time. You don’t feel so good, and your body is not accustomed to it.

Perseverance is key.

On a biological level, if your body is accustomed to eating three meals a day or more, then when you first try out fasting, you will likely feel incredibly hungry.

Try to relax – this is the body urging the brain to switch on and try to find more food. It eventually calms itself down, and you adapt. The results are far more rewarding!

For those of you who would like to try out intermittent fasting or caloric restriction, the below guides shares some useful tips on how to do it as hassle-free as possible.

Another thing to note about fasting is that one should still be drinking water!

Little known to many, the chemicals inside ordinary tap water are detrimental to the brain and body.

To reap full benefits of fasting, you should invest in the best water filter to ensure no extra pressure is placed on your liver. This filter was shown to excel above all others when independently lab tested.

There is another useful tactic used by many who go on longer fasts to detox their bodies – and that is drinking pure herbal teas.

Green tea is an especially lovely fasting companion as it contains a wealth of antioxidants that help alleviate possible headaches as well as fight back against cravings when you’re first starting out.



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