Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for the Brain

Intermittent fasting means that you don’t eat anything for certain times each day. Experts recommend it, and even up to a 16-hour period if possible. According to this, it has advantages for the body as a result of various studies. One of them that was carried out by the Johns Hopkins University in the USA mentions that this practice can extend life since it improves cellular health and triggers an adaptation to periods of food shortage that we know as metabolic flexibility.

However, other research carried out and published in the journal JAMA International Medicine, one of the most rigorous on intermittent fasting carried out to date, indicates that this type of diet causes a loss of muscle mass. That is something that we cannot allow in any case. And less when we pass into adulthood.Why? In this sense, a low muscle mass is associated with a higher risk of mortality.  Certain stressful stimuli, such as fasting, produce a greater activation of BDNF in the brain. A kind of neural compost. This is the way our brain reacts to complex and dangerous environments. Otherwise, in overly comfortable environments, the brain no longer needs to be alert and agile. In the long term, fasting appears to have a neuroprotective role. Although human studies are still lacking.

Yet another study conducted by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, notes that intermittent fasting could improve long-term memory and generate new adult neurons in the hippocampus in mice. Which means that it could slow the progression of cognitive decline. It appears that this type of “diet” promotes the expression of the Klotho gene. Which is also known as the “longevity gene”. And that it has a decisive role in the production of new neurons in older adults.


The expert doctor and nutritionist Núria Monfulleda from the Love Yourself center in Barcelona, ​​mentions:

“What happens when we undergo relatively long periods of fasting throughout the day is that the sensation of hunger will keep us alert and, therefore, we will feel more awake. When we eat we tend to be somewhat more lethargic. Since the body has to digest fats and sugars. And that is complicated sometimes. “

The doctor clarifies some of the supposed benefits of intermittent fasting. Although he does not advise against this practice to all those people who are doing well.

“People need to consume a certain number of calories throughout the day to maintain weight or to reduce it, if we are dieting and looking to lose weight. If at the end of the day you need, let’s say 2,000 calories, the body doesn’t care when you eat them. Either in a distributed way or in a concentrated period of 8 hours.”

“Personally, I prefer to divide the intakes in 4 or 5 for some reasons. Delivering meals into small meals keeps blood sugar levels under control, makes us feel satiated throughout the day, and prevents us from bingeing or bingeing that could lead to heavy digestion. “


For those who find it difficult to reach 16 hours, it is recommended to start with a 12-hour fast. The gentlest way is to start eating dinner a little earlier until you get 12 hours of fasting and 12 hours of feeding. Afterwards, breakfast can be delayed or eliminated, achieving a 16/8 fast. This is a gentle approach that almost anyone can do, except for athletes or people with eating disorders.

The most immediate benefit is that it helps create a contrast between hours of rest and hours of activity. Helping to synchronize the circadian rhythms that are involved in hormonal levels, energy, productivity, etc. Without those hours of fasting, molecular clocks and organs have no hours of rest. It is important not to confuse intermittent fasting with prolonged fasting, as these have other effects on our physiology, etc. Fasting is still a stressor and in cases of excess it can be dangerous.



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