Definitions of fasting and starvation
Why exactly does a goddess like yourself decide to delve into intermittent fasting health benefits for women? Did you realize that there were a lot of fasting benefits? You may think that it is starvation or may even believe that there is no benefit to potentially being “hangry.” Well, I get news for you; it brings a whole slew of benefits that you may have not even ever thought could exist for yourself! First, let us examine the definition of fasting versus starvation. According to a recent description of fasting by the Encyclopedia Brittanica, the definition of fasting is the abstinence of food or drink or both for health, ritualistic, religious, or ethical purposes 1.
Fasting has been used since the 5th century with Hippocrates
Fasting has been used therapeutically since at least the 5th century BCE when Greek physician Hippocrates recommended abstinence from food or drink for patients who exhibited specific symptoms of illness2. Some physicians believed that administering food during such states was unnecessary and possibly even detrimental since fasting is an important natural part of the recovery process3.
Let’s delve into hunger, which is a word commonly confused with fasting. The definition of this is widespread or generalized atrophy (wasting away) of body tissues either because food is unavailable or because it cannot be eaten or properly absorbed4. Starvation is the involuntary abstention from eating. It is neither deliberate nor controlled. Starving people have no idea when and where they will have their next meal. We see starvation in times of war and famine when food is scarce.
Fasting, on the other hand, is the voluntary abstention from eating for spiritual, health, or other reasons. Food is readily available, but you choose not to eat it. No matter what your reason for abstaining, the fact that fasting is voluntary is a critical distinction.
Fasting versus Starvation
Starving and fasting should never be confused with each other, and the terms should never be interchangeable5. It is the difference between swimming for fun or swimming because you are in shark-infested waters. Starvation is forced upon you by outside forces, but fasting may be done for any time from a few hours to months on end. You may begin a fast at any time of your choosing, and you may end a fast at will, too. You can start or stop a fast for any reason, or no reason at all6.
Pick your fast times
For instance, you may choose to fast between dinner or breakfast the next day, which could be a minimum period of 12 hours. Please do remember, to enter a fasted state truly; you must undoubtedly go for at least 12 hours after your last meal. The fasting window starts when you put down that fork and should last a minimum of twelve hours7.
Please see my post on the Types of Intermittent Fasting, which explores the different methods. This will give you information to help you identify which one will suit your needs. Now, let’s delve into the juicy benefits of fasting. It is amazing how many beautiful things fasting can do for your body. The ones that I am going to address are the ones that I feel are the most important for you.
1. Intermittent Fasting Benefit #1- promotes weight loss
Yay! I must say that weight loss is the number one when it comes to intermittent fasting health benefits for women! Once you start intermittent fasting, you may find that you eat less, and as a result, you consume fewer calories. The way that fasting helps weight loss is it helps insulin from your bloodstream get into the cells! Intermittent fasting affects insulin in two ways:
Decreases your insulin sensitivity, which in turn can help prevent weight gain and reduce your risk of diabetes.
Second, fasting decreases your insulin levels, which can cue your body to start burning stored fat instead of glucose(9).
Another fantastic way that it helps weight loss is by boosting your metabolism. Say goodbye to those comments from your best friend or mother regarding eating once a day and how it will just pile on the pounds. BOO! Contrary to the original expectation, it turns out that fasting induces metabolic activation rather actively 10.
Fasting improves BMR
A fasting advocate, Dr. Jason Fung, has monitored patients who have done fasts, and they experienced an increase in BMR11. It does this by burning fat for fuel at a higher rate12.
Overall, fasting also won’t slow down your metabolism as it puts you into a state of ketosis – which gives your body energy from your body fat at a steady rate. When this happens, those insulin spikes and dips are avoided and as a result, your metabolism does not slow down.
Purchase Dr. Fung’s book on fasting
Dr. Jason Fung has a lot of pertinent information regarding IF and fasting for days. I highly recommend you to purchase his book. It really helps with motivation during a fast, especially if you are going longer than 24 hours (more on that later). You can purchase it on my recommended page here.
2. Intermittent Fasting Benefit #2- improved energy and moods
Improved energy is another one of the many intermittent fasting health benefits for women! Every day, we tend to wear many hats and feel like we have to be everything to everybody. It may seem as if we are a clown juggling in this proverbial circus. The good news is that fasting helps your mitochondria, which will, in turn, give you more steps in your stride to deal with the everyday rat race. Improved energy is one of the many benefits of intermittent fasting for your health!
Mitochondria are known as little powerhouses in your body, which help it to perform at its best. These sub-cellular mini-organs do various functions for the cell, such as generate energy (mitochondrion) and remove waste products (lysosomes) and make proteins (endoplasmic reticulum) 13. When these mitochondria go awry, then disease starts to manifest, such as Alzheimer’s. You can read more about this here.
Intermittent fasting will get rid of old mitochondria and help with new ones
The process of intermittent fasting involves getting rid of the old mitochondria and stimulating new ones to form. This will create an energy powerhouse! In turn, it may also help prevent cancer or other diseases from manifesting. Once you start IF, you will have the energy to do things that you forgot you even had!
3. Intermittent Fasting Benefit #3- helps women’s health!
I have discovered that improved PMS was another one of the many intermittent fasting health benefits for women. Ever since I have hit my late 30s, I have noticed that my PMS has really started to amp up! My kids and husband get the heat! Unfortunately for them, I can’t relocate to another house and still be mommy and wife. My only answer was to embark on fasting to help give me a sense of balance. As a result, I have become a huge fasting fan! Ever since partaking in IF, I have noticed an improvement in bloating, fatigue, mood swings, and food cravings. It’s awesome I can’t say enough wonderful things about it! Overall, it does not matter if you are a woman or a man, the benefits of intermittent fasting can be supercharging for your health!
Diet and Reproduction go hand in hand
It has been found over and over that diet and reproduction have a mutually beneficial relationship. Overweight and obesity in early adulthood appear to increase the risk of menstrual problems, hypertension in pregnancy, and subfertility 15. Fasting can be prescribed as a safe medical intervention as well as a lifestyle regimen that can improve women’s health in many folds15.
Limitations for who should fast
Now all this being said, there are certain limitations as to which women should fast. For example, pregnant women definitely should not fast, and certain women may not be able to go longer than 24 hour periods. To be a healthy female intermittent faster, be aware, and monitor your reproductive cycle. Tracking disruptions to your menstrual cycle may be an excellent way to determine whether you should reduce the number of hours or days you are fasting each month, particularly if you are trying or planning to become pregnant16.
Always clear fasting uncertainties with a physician first
An open question is how fasting may impact the effectiveness of the birth control pill – ask your gynecologist if you have any questions about this, as research is currently limited in this area16. Also, if you have any uncertainties, feel free to ask your physician and always clear it with them before partaking in any fasting regimen. VIP. This goes with anyone!
Even though there are many vast benefits, there are a select amount of people who can do it ( pregnant women and children looking at you). Also, keep in mind that there are various medical conditions that contradict fasting, such as diabetes (which is only one example).
Fasting may prevent breast cancer reoccurrence
Since we are on the topic of women’s reproductive cycle, I find it pertinent to bring up that fasting will decrease your chance of breast cancer reoccurrence. There was a study by JAMA oncology that goes through how fasting for at least 13 hours can reduce a women’s risk for breast cancer recurrence. How exciting!! If that isn’t motivation, then I don’t know what is14!
4. Intermittent Fasting Benefit #4- Increased mental clarity
Increase neural cells in the brain
Increased mental clarity is one of the wonderful intermittent fasting health benefits for women! Overall, when you are running on carbohydrates, your brain tends to run on glucose. Say hello to brain fog’s best fuel. So now that you are becoming the Holistic Keto Goddess that you aspire to be – this is going to REALLY and literally weigh you down. Your new fuel is going to be fatty acids and ketone bodies. According to Sayer Ji 18, dietary restriction increases the number of newly generated neural cells in the adult brain. In other words, it may increase the brain’s capacity for plasticity and self-repair.
Mice put on alternate-day fasting, don’t develop Alzheimer’s until 2 years of age
Researchers suggest that limiting calories may reduce both the incidence and severity of neurodegenerative disorders in humans. Fasting can have a very beneficial impact on your brain function, and may even hold the key to preventing Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic brain disorders19. Mark Mattson, Ph.D., has conducted animal studies showing that when mice that are genetically engineered to develop Alzheimer’s disease are put on an alternate-day fasting diet, they don’t develop the disease until around the age of 2 years, which in human terms is equivalent to being 9020.
Mice put on a junk food diet develop Alzheimer’s around 9 months
Without any intervention, the mice develop dementia in half that time or around 1 year, equivalent to the age of 40 or 50 in humans. And when Mattson put them on a junk food diet, they developed Alzheimer’s disease at around 9 months21. His research suggests that alternate-day fasting can boost a protein known as a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) by anywhere from 50 to 400 percent, depending on the brain region.
Fasting activates BDNF to make more neurons
BDNF activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons. It also triggers other chemicals that promote neural health and has been shown to protect brain cells from adverse changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease22.
Fast to optimize brain function
Incorporate intermittent fasting to optimize your brain function! As far as mental clarity is concerned, I am going to show you how fasting can also open up your chakras and get you into the “goddess mindset”. This will mostly be mentioned in another section. Personally, as a writer, I have noticed that my best times to write are when I am fasting.
5. Intermittent Fasting Benefit #5- Improved skin benefit
Fasting can naturally help with wrinkles
Improved skin elasticity has to be one of my favorite intermittent fasting health benefits for women! What else could a goddess ask for? That’s right beautiful glowing skin and fewer wrinkles via a natural anti-aging regimen. Tired of Botox and expensive skin regimens? That’s right girl IF has you covered and may even save you some money. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to naturally decrease the rate at which aging happens? I mean come on!
How fasting slows down the aging process
There are actual mechanisms in which fasting may actually lengthen life and slow down the aging process. It does this by autophagy up-regulation, improved stress resistance, and mitochondrial efficiency. These are among the cellular functions needed to hold off features associated with accelerated aging, such as free radical generation, excess caloric intake, chronic hyperglycemia, and fat accumulation23. One study found that mice on fasting protocols lived around 83 percent longer than their normal-eating rodent friends24.
Fasting makes you less vulnerable to the stress of the environment
In humans, a 2008 Ramadan study found that fasting protected body lipids from oxidative stress25. Although several theories have been proposed to explain the anti-aging effects of caloric restriction, one hypothesis proposes that it acts by decreasing oxidative stress. In layman’s terms, intermittent fasting encourages your body to destroy damaged cells it no longer needs which, in turn, makes you less vulnerable to the stress of your environment.
Fasting to regenerate your skin cells
When I speak of damaged cells in your body, then, of course, I am also referring to those of the skin. That being said, I still also think it is good for you to use a good skincare regimen that is organic-based and free from harsh chemicals.
I am so glad we delved into these juicy intermittent fasting health benefits for women! Overall, I only mentioned a few benefits of intermittent fasting for your health! Believe it or not, there are more! An important thing to remember is that fasting should be incorporated with other lifestyle changes! If you would like to learn more about how you can improve your health, I encourage you to visit my start here page. There you will read about the necessary steps to achieve wellness. Remember, it is all about your lifestyle in its entirety at the end of the day.
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4 Starvation. ( 2019, September 17). Retrieved January 21, 2020, from https://www.brittanica.com/topic/starvation.
5,6, 11 Fung, J., & Moore, J. (2016). The complete guide to fasting: heal your body through intermittent, alternate-day, and extended fasting. Las Vegas, NV: Victory Belt Publishing.
7 Avalon, M., & Fragoso, S. (2018). What when wine: lose weight and feel great with paleo-style meals, intermittent fasting, and wine. New York, NY: The Countryman Press, a division of W.W. Norton & Company.
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9Leptin mediates a glucose fatty acid cycle to maintain glucose homeostasis in starvation. (2018, January 11). Retrieved January 21, 2020, from https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(17)31443-5
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16 Jarreau, Paige ( 2018, October 24). Your menstrual cycle on intermittent fasting. Retrieved from https://lifeapps.io/fasting/your-menstrual-cycle-on-intermittent-fasting/
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23 de Cabo, R., Carmona-Gutierrez, D., Bernier, M., Hall, M. N., & Madeo, F. (2014, June 19). The search for antiaging interventions: from elixirs to fasting regimens. Retrieved January 21, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4254402/
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