The Short Answer: Health benefits of low carb intermittent fasting include treatments for epilepsy and pre diabetes. Additional benefits include reducing chronic inflammation, increasing mental acuity and accentuating cellular regeneration.
Fasting, has become a fairly hot health topic in recent times. The concept is not a new one and has been used in one form or another for a variety of health reasons. While the primary focus of low carb intermittent fasting is weight loss, It’s incorrect to consider this its only health benefit.
Major religions dating back thousands of years have incorporated fasting. For example Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism. Many historical figures also practiced fasting. These include Mahatma Gandhi and Socrates. Socrates used fasting for improving mental acuity and increasing creative output.
In the following article we are going to look at 5 of the most promising health benefits of low carb intermittent fasting.
As a treatment for Epilepsy
Most patients (up to 65%) suffering from epilepsy either eradicate or reduce their incidence of seizure when taking antiepileptic drugs. The remaining 35% however have no such option.
The Ketogenic diet (very low carb, high fat diet) has been in use since the 1920’s for the treatment of epilepsy. One clinical trial demonstrated an over 50% reduction in children who experienced seizures daily. These children were not responsive to drug treatment.
It is also thought that fasting, combined with the ketogenic diet or variation of low carb diet may provide a health benefit greater than the sum of its parts for treating those with drug resistant epilepsy. This is one of the most promising health benefits of low carb intermittent fasting
Inflammation is the body’s response to trauma such as infection or injury. It’s an immune response that occurs when the cells affected release chemicals into the damaged or infected area. In turn this causes blood vessels to leak fluid resulting in swelling. They also attract Phagocytes (A type of white blood cell) that ingests damaged tissue.
This is a perfectly normal process and aids our bodies to recover from trauma.
Chronic inflammation on the other hand is a prolonged immune response. It occurs when there is a change in cells to a specific area. This may then lead to arthritic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
May Reduce your Risk of Developing Diabetes
Pre Diabetes (higher than normal blood sugar levels) may be controlled and in some cases reversed by a low carb diet.
Prediabetes is often the result of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is typically the result of a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle but may also be genetic.
Insulin resistance occurs when the cells of the body become resistant to insulin. This in turn places a higher demand on the pancreas to produce insulin. As the condition worsens over time the pancreas cannot supply enough insulin to maintain blood sugar levels.
Unless addressed, through diet and exercise there is a high chance of developing Diabetes. Low carb diets and fasting both reduce glucose (blood sugar) levels. Reduced glucose directly addresses the bodies need for insulin production.
May increase Mental Acuity
Fasting, has long been associated with mental acuity. In fact Ancient Greek Philosophers such as Pytharagos, Plato and Socrates used fasting to enhance mental acuity and creativity.
Protein production increases in the brain during fasting periods. Which may strengthen the synapses and promote neuron growth.
The production of chemicals in the body promoting neural health may be triggered when fasting. In particular the areas of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
Increased mental acuity due to fasting may be a response mechanism passed on from earlier generations. In general terms the thinking is, if you are hungry, your mind is more alert.
When it comes to low carb dieting, studies have shown improvement in memory for the mentally impaired. The rate of improvement in these cases correlating with ketone levels in the bloodstream.
May Increase Cellular Repair
Our bodies are constantly repairing and replacing cells. When we are eating normally, our digestive system requires a great deal of energy. In the case of digesting protein the body may allocate up to 30% of the calories absorbed for digestion.
Cellular turnover and repair may increase when undertaking intermittent fasting. This occurs because our bodies promote cellular repair during the fasting window. Results are similar to calorie restriction. Calorie restriction improves the efficiency of cellular energy production. As a result, low carb diets combined with calorie restriction have been used post surgery.
Low carb intermittent fasting provides many health benefits. However, those listed above are the most promising.
For example treating Pre-Diabetes may also result in new methods for managing type 2 diabetes. Improving cellular health may result in better injury management. In any case the benefits of low carb intermittent fasting extend beyond merely weight loss. Although it should be noted, reducing weight is an important part of improving general health.