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This One Process Can Delay Cognitive Decline for 20 Years
What if you could do one simple thing that would ensure you would have a sharp memory for decades to come? Recent studies have uncovered that intermittent fasting may just be that one thing. Find out more about this surprising memory boost below.
Health trends come and go, and each year, a new trend appears. Some health trends are more effective than others, and others are purely bizarre with little supporting evidence to back their health claims.
Last year, intermittent fasting was a trending topics that garnered much interest in the natural health community. Intermittent fasting is simply an approach to eating that includes built-in fast periods- usually during the night and for certain hours of the day. The proponents of this eating methods claim that using this method of eating will encourage your body to lose fat and may actually benefit other functions of the body as well, by improving thyroid function, reducing inflammation, preventing diabetes, lowering cholesterol, and even boosting your memory and cognitive function.
These are lofty health claims for an eating style that simply changes when you eat. Are these claims actually true? Have studies backed the health claims of intermittent fasting? Find out below.
There are two parts to intermittent dieting. According to fasting-fan Dr. Michael Mosley, author of the book “The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting,” intermittent dieting consists of eating normally for five days a week, then two days of week eating about ¼ of what you eat on normal days (approximately 600 calories for men and 500 for women).
During the traditional eating days, it is important to eat your meals at the same time each day. This is supposed to trigger your body to expect food at certain times, which allows your body to let go of unused fat, rather than storing it for future use.
According to this diet, all the food you consume in one day should occur in about an 8-hour window. Basically, if your first meal of the day is at 8 AM, then your last meal of the day would be no later than 4 PM.
Food restriction is not part of this diet plan. You should eat a healthy amount of calories based on your activity level and health goals. Of course, just like with any diet, the healthier your choices, the better. Minimizing processed carbohydrates and avoiding other processed foods like vegetable oil, fried foods, and any form of packaged food sold at a grocery store. Basically, if you can buy it at a gas station, you should avoid eating it on a regular basis.
According to the Fast Diet book, it can take several weeks for your body to adjust to this eating plan, but once it does, you start to see the health benefits.
All the above claims seem great, but are they actually true? Find out below: Weight Loss Studies In 2007, a study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” tested the theory of intermittent fasting and scheduled eating.
The study divided the participants into two groups. In one group, participants ate using the typical three meal a day pattern. In the second group, participants ate the same amount of calories in one meal. The study took place over 6 months, and the participants followed the same pattern for the entire time.
The researchers found that in the one meal per day group, participants had a ” “significant modification of body composition, including reductions in fat mass.”
In 2012, researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies looked at how when you eat could impact your overall weight and health. In the study, mice were either fed a high-fat diet given in small portions throughout the day, or a high-fat diet eaten only in an 8-hour window each day.
By the end of the study, mice fed on the restricted schedule actually weighed 28 percent less than the mice fed any time throughout the day. The mice on the controlled time diet also had no adverse health effects from the poor nutritional quality of the diet.
The first studies about how fasting could benefit health occurred during the 1940s. In 1945, researchers from the University of Chicago found that over time, mice fed every other day lived longer and had fewer diseases than mice fed every day.
In 2003, the National Institute looked at how fasting could benefit the insulin and glucose levels of mice. The researchers found that when mice were given scheduled times of fasting, the levels of insulin and glucose in their blood was actually lower than that of mice given a restricted calorie diet. This indicates that scheduled eating and fasting could help reduce a person’s risk for diabetes.
Further studies from the National Institute have shown that fasting can provide multiple other benefits.
One of the biggest and possibly most surprising benefits of fasting is the boost is gives to brain power. According to research from the National Institute, fasting triggers a mild stress response in the brain. What does the brain do when it is stressed? It becomes more active. Researchers tie this into an evolutionary response to lack of food. Basically, fasting triggers the brain to work harder to find more food.
In fact, a Danish study from 2005 determined, “This lifestyle collides with our genome, which was most likely selected in the late Paleolithic era (50,000–10,000 BC) by criteria that favored survival in an environment characterized by fluctuations between periods of feast and famine. The theory of thrifty genes states that these fluctuations are required for optimal metabolic function.”
Other studies have found that fasting mice have higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a protein that prevents neurons from dying. If you have low levels of BDNF, you have a higher rate of getting Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative brain diseases.
Another benefit of fasting that researchers found was the improvement in autophagy, which gets rid of damaged molecules in cells. This can protect against cancer development and also helps protect against neurological diseases.
The National Institute suggests that fasting every other day (with a meal restriction of around 600 calories) promotes the highest levels of BDNF and stimulates autophagy the most. According to the study, every-other day fasting was able to delay memory problems by about 6 months in rats, which is the human equivalent of about 20 years.
If you want to improve your memory, you may want to try intermittent fasting. This will not only help protect against Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases, but will also benefit your body in a multitude of other ways. One simple way to implement this plan is by skipping breakfast and eating a healthy lunch and dinner. Stop eating about 3 hours before you go to sleep to keep your eating habits into an 8-hour window.
The best foods to consume include healthy vegetables and fruit, a large amount of protein, and a high amount of healthy fats like avocado, butter, eggs, olive oil, and nuts. This kind of diet helps your body target fat cells rather than burning fuel from carbs and sugar.
Within a few weeks, you should find that you are able to go about 16 hours without feeling hungry and have a healthier weight along with the memory-boosting and disease-protecting benefits of the intermittent diet.
Of course, you should not rely on fasting as the only method used to boost your mental health. Although giving your mind a mild stressor may help genetically improve your brain, there are also other steps you can take to ensure that your memory is as sharp as a tack for years to come.
Exercise is one of the most helpful activities you can do to keep your mind sharp. How? Exercise promotes BDNF and HGH production, which contribute to a sharp mind. Exercise also improves your mood, which could contribute to healthy brain function. After all, you are more likely to want to remember your life if it is a happy one.
According to Harvard University, the type of exercise you do doesn’t matter so much as the frequency of the exercise. Exercising at least three times a week will provide the most lasting benefits.
Certain nutrients are essential for healthy brain function. After all, you are what you eat, and if you eat healthy, brain-boosting foods, your mind will become clearer and sharper. The following nutrients are essential for healthy brain function:
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Considering all the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, its surprising that more people don’t eat fish all the time. Omega 3 fatty acids are one of the most studied ingredients for boosting brain power. You can add more fish to your diet, or take the acid in supplement form.
Ginkgo Biloba: This herb has been studied for its memory boosting powers for many years. Ginkgo improves the blood flow to the brain, which improves its function in all areas. Acetyl-L-Carnitine: This amino acid has been shown to benefit patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia during the early stages.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a memory protector. It was shown in studies to slow the progression of degenerative brain diseases.
Ginseng: Ginseng provides improved energy and mental clarity. In some studies, ginseng was able to improve ACTH hormone levels, which control stress and slow cognitive decline.
Huperzine A: Studies have shown that this strange moss is as effective as most medications in treating Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Research has shown that using your brain is one of the better ways to preserve your mental health. Engaging your brain in a variety of ways can help fight cognitive decline. Try engaging in social groups, practicing mentally challenging games, and learning new things on a regular basis. These actions will keep your brain performing at top levels throughout your life.
It appears that many of the health claims for intermittent fasting are true. Studies show that fasting and scheduled eating can benefit your brain, boost your metabolism, improve your memory, reduce your chances of getting diabetes and stroke, and help you in a variety of other ways. If you want to provide the ultimate brain boost, try adding intermittent fasting to your routine along with exercise, brain-boosting supplements, and activities that stimulate the mind.
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