Intermittent fasting is the latest you must have heard in ‘weight loss diet plans’. Also called as IF, it has gained immense buzz already. In this, people are abstained from eating anything for 16 to 24 hours. This diet has taken the attention of people like frenzy. Also, studies done on it so far suggest that it is helpful.

Most of these studies claim that intermittent fasting boosts up the immune system and the results have prompted further research on its role in improving the heart health and reducing cancer risk.

Dr Liz Weinandy, a staff dietician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre believes that the research done so far isn’t sufficient enough to bestow IF the status it is claiming due to the buzz created.

Let’s have a look at those studies…

Biochemist Valter Longo, the head of the anti-ageing department at USC, did a study on mice and human cancer patients. They were made to fast for four days. During this phase, both the mammals were able to discard old blood cells. After the fast was broken, new cells took place of the discarded ones and hence revived their immune systems.

Longo concluded by adding that long periods of fasting can minimize the side effects of chemotherapy for cancer patients or rev up immunity of healthy people.

A study by Yale Medical School in 2015 went on to say that both dieting and fasting; both are capable of producing a compound that averts the immune system from producing a protein which is linked to inflammatory diseases like atherosclerosis and diabetes.

Longo’s study shows promise, but cannot be trusted completely as it is done on a few cancer patients and animals. Further studies only can help to establish the buzz created by intermittent fasting. Dr Liz Weinandy too is in favor of further study that aims at finding the benefits IF can have on the elderly and the diabetics.

Is Intermittent fasting safe?

We can conclude from the above that IF may not be as good as the buzz suggests but it is certainly safe. It is a low carb diet and promotes weight loss too.

There are a few contraindications though – kidney function, impaired liver, or if your lifestyle includes a lot of physical activity, then you should not fast at all. IF drains out important minerals – potassium and sodium from the body. So stay away from it while exercising.

Exercising while fasting can be dangerous. It can lower down the body’s metabolism.

Longo suggests fasting for no more than 12 hours. In fact, he has suggested a five day plan that comprises crackers, soups and tea. This according to him will send signals to the brain that it is not fasting while in fact it would be.

On the other hand, Dr. Weinandy believes there is absolutely no need to do so. A well balanced diet is all a human body needs to maintain a healthy weight.

One must not fall for the hype.

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