Stress Binge

Fasting as a cure

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28 Sep 2021  |   05:16am IST

Fasting as a cure

Sathappan Narayanan

Could you recall Bush controversial statement on the food habits of Indians and how they were contributing to the global food crisis? What he meant through his 2008 statement was that apparent improvement in the diets of people in India and China and consequent food export caps was among the causes of 2008 global food crisis! He may be partly right but grossly wrong, for, the reality was shockingly opposite. Actual data as per 2008 statistics, US top the list of per-capita food consumption at 3800 Kilocalories followed by European, Australia and Middle East countries, all of which were above 3000 and India at much lower level of 2360 kilocalories! 

If eating more is a cause for food crisis then the focus need to be on those people with – binge eating disorder (BED). Fact is, a large percentage of people of developed world and lesser percentage of 3rd world nations suffering with BED – experiencing episodes of eating large amounts, even when they’re not hungry. After an episode, they may feel a strong sense of guilt or shame. If you eat when you’re not hungry, or find yourself obsessing about thoughts of food when you’re not hungry, you are, by definition, an impulsive eater. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to send a signal to the stomach to let you know that you’re full. Overeating occurs when you continue to eat beyond this point of fullness. 

Sometimes it’s taste, sometimes it’s habit, or maybe it’s stress; overeating can lead to unwanted weight gain and increase your risk of chronic diseases. The risk of developing cancer can increase due to factors such as obesity, high consumption of alcohol or preserved meat, and lack of physical activity. 

Excess fat in the abdomen can contribute to the development of insulin resistance, a condition that underlies most cases of type 2 diabetes. Certain dietary fats that are commonly found in dairy products, meat and hardened oils have been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Fasting or not eating food for an extended period of time is well-known as a religious diet practice. Over the past several years, many studies have been published showing that intermittent fasting or a fasting-mimicking diet can reduce risk factors for and reverse symptoms of serious health conditions including cancer. 

Below are the most popular methods of intermittent fasting:

*The 16/8 method: Also called the Lean gains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.

*Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.

*The 5:2 diet: With this method, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.

When you fast, several things happen in your body on the cellular and molecular level. For example, your body adjusts hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. Your cells also initiate important repair processes.

Intermittent fasting can have many benefits for your body and brain. It can cause weight loss and may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It may also help live longer.

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