It’s probably fair to say that intermittent fasting is most often associated with rapid weight loss. However, the same mechanisms that make the regimen ideal for shedding pounds could also help prevent you from getting deadly cancer.
In a new paper published in the Nature Communications journal, researchers from the University of California, San Diego concluded that time-restricted eating can significantly decrease one’s risk of experiencing serious illness.
The preceding study was conducted on mouse models suffering from obesity-caused postmenopausal breast cancer. When the subjects had their feeding limited to an eight-hour time window, the risk of their tumors spreading and growing was reduced dramatically.
Time-restricted eating requires subscribers to align their meals with their circadian rhythms which is the natural, internal process that regulates our sleep-wake cycle
Establishing a pattern of fixed periods without food, causes our body to begin a cellular repair process in order to make fat cells more readily available. Human growth hormone levels integral to the formation of muscles and the burning of fat also increase in our blood, our insulin levels drop, and gene expressions linked to longevity, and our immune system becomes more active.
Fasting also initiates a process medical professionals call autophagy. During autophagy, our bodies consume damaged cells and proteins in order to create new healthy, stronger ones
In addition, restricting eating to an 8-hour time period has been studied to benefit metabolic and cardiovascular health as well as blood pressure regulation.
“Accumulating evidence indicates that obesity with its associated metabolic dysregulation, including hyperinsulinemia and aberrant circadian rhythms, increases the risk for a variety of cancers including postmenopausal breast cancer,” the authors wrote in the report. “Caloric restriction can ameliorate the harmful metabolic effects of obesity and inhibit cancer progression but is difficult to implement and maintain outside of the clinic. In this study, we aim to test a time-restricted feeding (TRF) approach on mouse models of obesity-driven postmenopausal breast cancer.”
Obesity alters the way our body processes insulin. Over time, this change (referred to as insulin resistance) can progressively increase one’s risk of developing serious forms of cancer.
A group of obese female mice featured in the report was engineered to respond to a strict eating schedule before being segmented into three experimental groups.
The first group had access to their food around the clock. The second only had eight hours a night to eat. These two groups were fed a variety of foods during their windows while the third group of mice was made to adhere to an unrestricted low-fat diet.
It’s important to remember that mice are typically the most active a night, so allowing their feeding at night is optimal for a healthy circadian rhythm.
If you’re not a mouse, consider one of the popular forms of fasting indexed below,
The 16:8 fast might be the most popular incarnation. This form of fasting allows its subscribers to eat during an 8-hour window and then abstain from food for the remaining 16 hours. There are no restrictions on what you can eat during your allotted time frame and you can establish the frame at any point that you deem to be more conducive to your particular schedule.
The 5:2 fast is a bit more calculated because it’s premised by insulin production specifically. Followers eat whatever they want, whenever they want for five days out of the week, and then limit calorie consumption to 500-600 on the remaining two days. This metabolic pattern has been proven to improve insulin sensitivity.
Alternate day fasting requires subscribers to fast every alternate day and limit their calorie intake on the days wherein they eat. This form of IF is particularly helpful for eliminating body fat.
“Time-restricted eating has a positive effect on metabolic health and does not trigger the hunger and irritability that is associated with long-term fasting or calorie restriction,” explained the study’s first author, Manasi Das, PhD. “Through its beneficial metabolic effects, time-restricted eating may also provide an inexpensive, easy to adopt, but effective strategy to prevent and inhibit breast cancer without requiring a change in diet or physical activity.”
“The increase in therisk of breast cancer is particularly high in women who are overweight and have been through menopause. For this reason, doctors may advise women to adopt weight-loss strategies to prevent tumor growth. Our data suggest that a person may benefit from simply timing their meals differently to prevent breast cancer rather than changing what they eat.”