Considering IF? Here’s What You Need to Think About

Two questions frequently come up about Intermittent Fasting (IF): 

1. Is IF ok for everyone? 2. Is there any good research behind it?

This article addresses both questions in a smart, thoughtful way. Enjoy. ~ Cathy

Is Intermittent Fasting Right For You?

by Dr. Thomas, at The Meridian Star (see link below)

We’re in the thick of it – that time of year when we tend to eat each meal and snack like it’s our last.

And we have good reasons, right? The New Year is coming around and we’re going to head back to the gym and curb bad eating habits – and this year it’ll work. Or, let’s be honest, the food from Thanksgiving on through Christmas is flat out good! My grandmother used to spend a month making all those great winter snacks as the year built towards Christmas – divinity, pralines, blondies, pound cake and more! I remember she’d keep them in spent Christmas tins on a shelf just outside the kitchen. As a kid, it was Southern comfort-food heaven!

What happens, though, now that we’re adults? Our bodies just don’t get rid of all that awesome food as easily. So what are we to do? Let me make a suggestion: intermittent fasting.

 If you’re skeptical, join the choir – I was, too. But the more I’ve researched it, intermittent fasting has some legs to stand on. Hear me out.

First, let me say who shouldn’t try this so as to not waste your time reading further If you have a BMI (body mass index) less than 18.5, are malnourished, your percentage body fat is less than 4 percent, pregnant or breastfeeding, then this isn’t for you. This isn’t for children (that’s another topic for another day). Discuss this with a healthcare professional before starting if you have diabetes, gout, GERD, or any medical problem that you’re unsure whether or not it may have an impact.

Now let’s get to the juicy part!

Intermittent fasting can benefit your overall health and comes in several different varieties. Today I’m going to discuss specifically eight hours of non-fasting and 16 hours of fasting daily. As an example, eating from noon-8 p.m. and fasting overnight and through the morning.

Everyone’s different – that may not work for you. Pick an eight-hour window that’s right for you. Eat your biggest meal towards the beginning of the eight-hour non-fasting window and progress to smaller meals as you go. Also, during the fasting period, you can still have as much coffee, tea and water (without any additives) you want. For example, I love my cup of black coffee in the morning. I don’t think I could give that up.

What benefits are seen? There are 90-plus studies on intermittent fasting. Benefits they show include healthier-looking skin, weight loss, longevity of life, improved heart health, increased insulin sensitivity, increases mitochondrial activity, reduced oxidative stress, normalization of ghrelin (this is something in your body that makes you feel hungry), lower inflammation, better immunity, improved cholesterol, sharper brain function, lower blood pressure and better gut health to name a few.

What usually happens is your body uses glycogen stores in your body within the first 24 hours then it turns to breaking down fat to get what it needs. As an aside, some folks are concerned they’ll lose muscle mass – this is only a concern if your percentage body fat is less than 4 percent otherwise it helps promote healthy muscle mass.

 The idea of fasting is as old as Jesus and Hippocrates. They both commented on the importance of fasting. Ben Franklin even said, “The best medicine is resting and fasting.” There’s some real truth to this and Franklin was brilliantly ahead of his time on most things. We’ve talked about the importance of rest/sleep in overall health before. Fasting can be another aspect of improved health. And here’s the kicker – it’s free! You just have to do it!

This holiday season or even afterward, I simply ask that you try it out. I’m going to try it myself. At the time this article is published, I may already be doing intermittent fasting. As always, at the end of the day, I’m just a board-certified physician from the small town of Kewanee (most Mississippians don’t even know where that is) who loves Mississippi and her people, and I realize our health has room for improvement. I’m trying to do something about it through education.

Have a great holiday season and, as always, join me in my quest for better!

• Dr. Thomas is a board-certified physician who operates Complete Health Integrative Wellness Clinic and Thomas Urology Clinic in Starkville, Mississippi. Is this column helpful or are you looking for more information? We’d love to hear from you. Go to www.CompleteHealthIWC.comor call 662-498-1400.

This newspaper column is for informational purposes only and is, under no circumstances, intended to constitute medical advice or to create or continue a physician-patient relationship.  If you have a medical emergency, you should immediately seek care from your nearest emergency room, and if you have specific health questions, you should consult your own physician.



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