There has been much buzz in recent years regarding a popular dieting strategy– intermittent fasting. Despite the common belief that intermittent fasting is new, this diet has actually been proven and in practice for hundreds of years. Many swear by its caloric restriction methods, saying that this diet can help with weight loss, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cancers, and more.
Intermittent fasting has been known to show positive effects on the body, but is the same true of the mind?
Intermittent Fasting for Brain Health and Neurological Disorders
Recent research shows that intermittent fasting can actually boost brain function and potentially improve several neurological disorders. But what exactly is intermittent fasting?
Methods of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is typically divided into three methods:
- 5:2 fasting: This method requires fasting for 2 days a week, consuming only 500-700 calories on each of those days. You can eat normal meals on the other 5 days of the week.
- Time-restricted eating: This option limits your eating to a 6-8-hour window. For example, eat one meal at noon and finish the second meal by 8 pm. You will then need to fast until the next day at noon (16-hour fast).
- Alternate day fasting: This indicates fasting every other day, that is, just 500-700 calories worth of food and drink on those days. Normal meals can be eaten on the off days.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Help Brain Health?
Following a restrictive fasting regimen allows for metabolic switching in the body. Metabolic switching allows the body time to first process stored glucose in the liver and then process fatty acids and ketone bodies. Ketones are not just fuel for the body; they also influence factors of brain health and aging. Ketones fuel our brains and have been linked to enhanced thinking, memory, and learning skills.
Recent studies and clinical trials have shown connections to improved memory, executive function, and overall cognition due to regular fasting. Many theorize that this is because those who do not fast never allow their bodies to make a metabolic switch from glycogen to ketones. The late-night snacking and early morning breakfasts that many Americans enjoy could be hindering this process.
Many researchers are studying the possible benefits of fasting among Alzheimer’s patients. Studies by Mark Mattson, a retired researcher at Johns Hopkins University, indicated that this was the case when he conducted fasting studies on mice. The mice that fasted performed better on cognitive tests than those that did not. However, there is much work to be done to claim these connections as fact.
What Does This Mean for Me?
The research indicates that intermittent fasting can be an effective way to live a healthier life for both your body and mind. However, this treatment does not suit everyone. If you are worried about your physical or mental health before starting an intermittent fasting plan, it is encouraged to first speak with healthcare professionals.
Dr. Sheldon Jordan and Dr. Marisa Chang of the Neurological Associates – The Interventional Group are two of the leading neurological practitioners in the industry. They are experts in studying and treating many conditions, including acute and chronic pain, brain injury and memory, psychological disorders, and much more. If you are interested in learning more about how intermittent fasting may improve your cognitive functioning and overall brain health, you can reach out to them at (310) 829-5968 or contact them online to schedule a consultation today.