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The Potential Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Intermittent fasting (IF) is gaining attention for its potential health benefits. This dietary approach involves alternating periods of eating and fasting. Common methods include time-restricted eating (such as the 16/8 method, where you eat for 8 hours and fast for 16), the 5:2 fasting (eating normally for 5 days and reducing calorie intake on 2 days), and alternate-day fasting.

Gut Health

Emerging research suggests that IF may positively impact gut health. It's been observed that IF can alter the gut microbiome composition, potentially leading to health benefits. For instance, studies have shown increases in beneficial gut bacteria like Lachnospiraceae and Prevotellaceae, which are linked to lower cancer risk, improved heart and mental health, and better metabolic health. IF might also strengthen the gut barrier, reducing chronic inflammation, a contributor to diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes​​.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is a notable benefit of IF, particularly for individuals with overweight. Studies indicate that IF can lead to reduced overall calorie consumption, aiding in short-term weight loss. However, it's important to note that IF may not be more effective than traditional calorie-controlled diets for long-term weight management, and different strategies work for different individuals​​.

Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Health

IF could be beneficial for reducing risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes and heart disease. For example, it can improve insulin sensitivity and pancreatic function, even without weight loss. In terms of heart health, IF has been shown to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure, and reduce inflammation, thereby decreasing the risk of heart disease​​.

Brain Health

There is some evidence that IF may enhance certain aspects of brain function, particularly in aging populations. Studies have indicated improvements in cognitive functions and a reduction in cognitive impairment among those practicing IF. Additionally, IF may have positive effects on mental health, with some studies associating it with reductions in stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. However, more research is needed to fully understand these relationships​​.

Eating While Intermittent Fasting

During non-fasting periods, it's essential to focus on a healthy diet. Eating a variety of plant-based foods, high-quality fiber, and protein can support gut health and provide necessary nutrients. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are recommended. Following dietary patterns like the Mediterranean diet during non-fasting periods may also support brain health​​.

Considerations and Precautions

While IF has potential benefits, it's not suitable for everyone. Pregnant or breastfeeding women, individuals with a history of eating disorders, those with type 1 diabetes, people on certain medications, and older adults may need to avoid IF. It's crucial to consult a healthcare provider before starting any new dietary regimen, especially if you have preexisting health conditions​​.

In conclusion, intermittent fasting shows promise in various health aspects, including gut health, weight management, reducing diabetes and heart disease risk factors, and potentially improving brain function. However, it's important to approach IF with caution and consider individual health needs and lifestyles.

Follow the link here to a podcast on the science of Intermittent Fasting.


Dr Mark has a special interest in helping recreational athletes of all ages perform better and prevent injury. Correct breathing and postural alignment are critical for top performance and injury prevention and is an integral part of “The Over 40 Athlete System” that Mark has developed.

Dr Julie has a special interest in helping mothers and “mothers to be”. Her Post Graduate qualifications in Paediatric Chiropractic and as an ex-midwife give her a unique ability to help pregnant women, new mums and their young children.

Yours in Health,

Dr's Mark & Julie


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