Intermittent fasting has become quite trendy, but it can have some positive health benefits.

Apart from weight loss, intermittent fasting can be used as a means to reduce inflammation and improve chronic inflammatory diseases.

Acute inflammation is a normal immune response and is usually short-lived, but chronic inflammation can have serious health consequences, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, auto-immune conditions and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Caloric restriction can reduce the release of pro-inflammatory cells called monocytes and thereby reduce inflammation.

With fasting, calories are reduced so the monocytes go into “sleep mode”, which makes them less inflammatory than the monocytes in someone who is continuously fed. 

Serious tissue damage can be the direct result of poor eating habits.

The majority of chronic disease is lifestyle related so there is definitely a place for fasting and this can be done in many different ways. Since each person is different, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

The digestive system is an organ that never gets to rest because we eat all the time. Intermittent fasting, however, provides a way for the digestive system to rest and repair and deal with the backlog of food that can accumulate if not given the time to be digested properly.

Types of fasting include some of the following approaches:

The 16/8 method

This involves fasting for 16 hours per day and only eating in the remaining 8-hour window. There is still adequate time to eat two to three healthy meals to meet your body’s caloric requirements and can be as simple as skipping breakfast or supper.

The 5:2 method 

This involves eating normally for 5 days per week and restricting one’s calorie intake for the other two days. Women would consume no more than 500 calories and men no more than 600 calories on fast days .

Alternate day fasting

This involves fasting from dinner time one day to dinner the next day, which equates to a full 24 hour fast. This method can be done occasionally or can be done on alternate days over a consistent period of time.

The Warrior Diet

This involves eating small amounts of fruit and vegetables during the day and only one large meal at night.

Many people do mini fasts by inadvertently skipping meals because they are too busy or don’t feel like eating. Skipping meals here and there is not harmful and can still have its benefits.

Fasting doesn’t work for everyone.

Fasting can slow the metabolism in certain individuals and could cause those people to struggle with weight management should they go back to a normal way of eating.

Ideally we should aim to follow a healthy, balanced eating plan that is sustainable over the long-term and attention should be paid to the type and quality of food being consumed whether fasting or not.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 22 October to learn more.

Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am