Intermittent Fasting as a Measure to Prevent Cancer:
What is intermittent fasting and why is it gaining popularity these days?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a recurring dietary pattern in which individuals consume little to no calories for a prolonged period of time, such as 16 to 48 hours, followed by periods of normal energy intake.
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.
It helps in bringing about delay in cancer incidence and inhibits tumor progression and metastasis. Fasting can kill cancer cells, boost the immune system and improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
This is one of the most popular IF methods. The idea is to eat normally for five days (don’t count calories) and then on the other two eat 500 or 600 calories a day for women and men, respectively. The fasting days are any days of your choosing.
With this type of IF, you choose an eating window every day, which should ideally leave a 14 to 16 hour fast. “Fasting promotes autophagy, the natural ‘cellular housekeeping’ process where the body clears debris and other things that stand in the way of the health of mitochondria, which begins when liver glycogen is depleted.
This approach is the simplest of the bunch and involves fasting for a 12-hour period every day. For example: Choose to stop eating after dinner by 7 p.m. and resume eating at 7 a.m. with breakfast the next morning.
OMAD-is one meal a day!
Relation between IF and cancer:
● IF helps in improving insulin sensitivity and increases your immunity: with decreased insulin sensitivity, there is increased insulin resistance and increased insulin resistance it is reported that chronic hyperinsulinemia is associated with various types of cancer such as colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, endometrial cancer and breast cancer. Specifically, insulin promotes the production and activity of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), which can promote cell proliferation in an over-nutrition state. In one study, researchers found that insulin and IGF1 promoted cell proliferation and inhibited cell apoptosis. When our body is fasting, it tries to conserve as much energy as possible so the cells become more sensitive to insulin, can remove glucose from blood and there is less fat stored. When there is more sensitivity to insulin, cancer cells have a harder time developing or growing.
At the same time it triggers the regeneration of new cells, therefore increasing the number of immune boosting cells that we have.
● IF can bring about autophagy: autophagy is nothing but the natural cell death and this process is very important so as to get rid of the harmful or damaged cells in our body and replace the same with healthy cells. But cancer cells lose this ability and keep on multiplying hence spreading to the other parts of the body. Since the process of IF encourages cells to digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside the cells, it goes to reason that autophagy has the potential to reduce the development of cancer cells.
● Fasting may also reverse the effects of chronic conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, which are both risk factors for cancer.
● Helps in balancing hormones: It’s well known that hormones like estrogen fuel the growth of cancer cells in nearly 80% of breast cancer cases. We’re learning that insulin has a lot of interplay with hormones like estrogen and excess body fat can accelerate insulin production. By reducing fat and insulin levels, intermittent fasting could help reduce that risk.
● Fasting helps in reducing inflammation: It’s believed fasting may assist in managing inflammation by:
Changing how compounds and proteins interact with each other, inhibiting inflammatory pathways.
Reducing inflammatory biomarkers, such as CRP, homocysteine and cholesterol ratios.
Guide to IF:
● Start with a more moderate approach of time restricted eating. “Start by cutting out nighttime eating and snacking and then start to limit your ‘eating window’ each day – such as only eating from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.”
● As you progress and monitor how you feel, you may choose to gradually increase your fasting window.
● Fast for 12 hours a day. This type of intermittent fasting plan may be a good option for beginners. This is because the fasting window is relatively small, much of the fasting occurs during sleep and the person can consume the same number of calories each day. The easiest way to do the 12-hour fast is to include the period of sleep in the fasting window. For example, a person could choose to fast between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. They would need to finish their dinner before 7 p.m. and wait until 7 a.m. to eat breakfast but would be asleep for much of the time in between.
● Fasting for 16 hours
Fasting for 16 hours a day, leaving an eating window of 8 hours, is called the 16:8 method. On this fast, people usually finish their evening meal by 8 p.m. and then skip breakfast the next day, not eating again until noon. Limiting the feeding window to 8 hours might protect you from obesity, inflammation, diabetes and liver disease.
● Staying hydrated. Drink lots of water and calorie-free drinks, such as herbal teas, throughout the day.
● Avoiding obsessing over food. Plan plenty of distractions on fasting days to avoid thinking about food, such as catching up on paperwork or going to see a movie.
● Resting and relaxing. Avoid strenuous activities on fasting days, although light exercise such as yoga may be beneficial.
● Making every calorie count. If the chosen plan allows some calories during fasting periods, select nutrient-dense foods that are rich in protein, fiber, and healthful fats. Examples include beans, lentils, eggs, fish, nuts and avocado.
● Eating high-volume foods. Select filling yet low-calorie foods, which include popcorn, raw vegetables and fruits with high water content, such as grapes and melon.
● Increasing the taste without the calories. Season meals generously with garlic, herbs, spices, or vinegar. These foods are extremely low in calories yet are full of flavor, which may help to reduce feelings of hunger.
● Choosing nutrient-dense foods after the fasting period. Eating foods that are high in fiber, vitamins minerals, and other nutrients helps to keep blood sugar levels steady and prevent nutrient deficiencies. A balanced diet will also contribute to weight loss and overall health.
● People who are struggling to gain weight or who are underweight should avoid IF.
● People with special conditions such as diabetes should be careful and monitor their blood glucose levels regularly if they plan on practicing IF.
● People who have a history of eating disorders.
● If you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
● Practice IF under the guidance of an expert.
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