Why intermittent fasting may provide a 'health benefit'

Why intermittent fasting may provide a ‘health benefit’

Sometimes called “fasting,” intermittent fasting is an increasingly common practice that often involves skipping breakfast or dinner for the purpose of losing weight. What happens in our bodies during this deprivation? Is this type of fasting desirable? The answers are with Professor David Jacoby, educator, researcher, and physician specializing in nutrition at the Chest Institute. On Thursday evening, in the city of Nantes, a public conference entitled “Intermittent fasting when hormones sit down to eat” will be held on the sidelines of the 38th Congress of the French Society of Endocrinology, which continues until Saturday.

David Jacobi
David Jacoby – Thorax Institute, W.-A. cows

What is the link between appetite and hormones?

Let us first remember that a hormone is a product produced by the body that helps it function and adapt to any situation it is exposed to. Behind the sensation of hunger or satiety hides a whole parade of hormones. In particular, they communicate messages from several organs, such as the digestive system (stomach and intestines) or adipose tissue, to the brain, so that it will be able to regulate hunger and satiety in an appropriate way. For example, ghrelin stimulates appetite and leptin suppresses it.

It is the latter that tells us when to stop …

Hormones help us eat the amount we need and nothing more. But we also eat for fun, because it’s good! We can also exercise voluntary control and decide to limit ourselves, in a weight loss strategy. But this is not always very effective, because it is difficult to go the distance …

Less restrictive intermittent fasting is an increasingly widespread and popular practice. why ?

Intermittent fasting is gaining a certain popularity because we control the moment rather than the quantities, and it’s an approach to losing weight while reducing depriving yourself. Interestingly, scientific knowledge confirms her interest. Eating breakfast at 6am and dinner at 10pm, with very short nightly fasts, is clearly not very good for weight control and more broadly for metabolic health (blood pressure, sugar levels, cholesterol, etc.). Therefore, one method of intermittent fasting is to reduce the period of food intake to the best time for absorbing, digesting and incorporating nutrients. Also, very recent studies have shown that eating calories in the morning improves feelings of fullness compared to the same calories consumed in the evening. So it would be better to keep breakfast rather than dinner, even if it would be easier to do the opposite with regard to personal, social or family organisation.

What are the mechanisms that play a role?

What we are trying to do is have meal times align with our internal clock (called the circadian clock), which runs all the harmonious functions of the body over a 24-hour period. The circadian rhythm is divided into two main phases of sleep and wakefulness, and intermittent fasting is a way to stick to the nightly fast well. One of the biggest problems of the modern age is that life, social or professional, can disrupt our natural rhythms: we have artificial lighting, refrigerators, food available at all times…

What are the benefits if we get there?

Respecting these rhythms will improve your metabolic state. For example, you will have better insulin and will be more sensitive to its action. A good thing because it can reduce the risk of developing diabetes. One of the benefits will be better regulation of your appetite. We also know that disruption of rhythms will have an effect on mood, fatigue, and even depression. Here again, eating well is probably part of good daily hygiene and can help improve sleep quality, which is managed by two other hormones: melatonin (which promotes sleep) which increases in the evening and decreases in the morning and cortisol (wakefulness), which does The opposite.

Do you advise your patients to intermittent fasting?

We are in a context in which metabolic diseases are increasingly frequent in the population: obesity, type 2 diabetes … So we have to ask ourselves the question of the new advice we may be asked to give. Intermittent fasting, done in a reasonable manner (eg by observing a nightly fast of at least 12 hours with the most regular schedule possible) combined with a balanced diet, can make it possible to restructure food intake for the benefit of health. On the other hand, I am more cautious in recommending longer forms of fasting, and the level of scientific evidence is much lower.

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