With telomeres, size matters. We all want longer telomeres. As we know, telomeres, stem cells and mitochondria interact with key molecules to manage genome integrity. And, these little tiny guys are what govern our aging process. So, these are the guys we want to keep ever so happy, right?
When our mitochondria are happy, they’re in a state called “homeostasis”. And, when it’s in this state of bliss, we are not only healthier, but younger. That’s right. –Aging gracefully (and much more slowly, hopefully) begins at the cellular level. (You knew that.) But, what can affect our cells more than what we feed them? —Or, don’t feed them?
Have you ever gotten to a point where you really don’t feel like eating even though it’s meal time? Well, the 5:2 diet (which is really not so much a diet as an eating schedule) encourages you to roll with that feeling. In other words, you are encouraged to eat intermittently, taking two days off from your normal eating routine.
Here’s How It Works:
For five days of the week, we eat “normally” — as in eating the number of calories required for your height. But, for two non-consecutive days, we restrict our intake to 500-600 calories per day. It’s important to eat normally in between the fasting days. This is what achieves homeostasis.
One could fast on Mondays and Thursdays, for example, eating two or three very small meals on each of those days. Then, the rest of the week, eat the regular meals you’re accustomed to eating. As a result, one may even lose some weight while trying to make their telomeres longer.
The State That Prevents Aging
Fasting keeps the mitochondria in a state that actually prevents aging. A new Harvard University study reports that intermittent fasting can keep the body younger, extend the lifespan and improve overall health. So, let’s lose the bad hype about fasting. (Maybe those Yogis know a bit about the human body.)
The mitochondria are the powerhouses for our cells. (They break down carbohydrates and fatty acids, providing the cells with energy.) Therefore, we want to protect them at all costs. Turns out that restricting the diet keeps them in homeostasis which results in improving our lifespan. So, because intermittent fasting helps to protect mitochondria from aging, it helps to prevent the effects of aging on the body.
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Alternating Between Two States
The mitochondria alternate between two states. When this happens in balance, they are in homeostasis. The word “homeostasis” comes from two Greek words: “homeo”, which means “similar” and “stasis”, which means “stable”. It’s when the internal environment is regulated and maintained in a constant condition. Homeostasis happens continually to maintain a normal condition in our bodies.
Also Read: Healthy Aging: How to Cope with Change
So, the researchers at Harvard discovered that mitochondria tend to experience improved homeostasis when their host is on an intermittently restricted diet. Intermittent fasting causes them to swing from one state to the other which is the key to maintaining youthfulness and vitality.
Mitochondria and Peroxisomes
Other cell parts that contribute to longevity are the peroxisomes. The mitochondria’s relationship with the peroxisomes is enhanced by intermittent fasting. The antioxidant action of these cell parts is associated with longevity. Gaining a deeper understanding of the way fasting affects activity at the cellular level is key to developing therapies to benefit life extension and youthfulness.
Celebrities like Benedict Cumberbatch andBeyonce are extolling the benefits of the 5:2 diet. Although it is linked to longer life spans, it also helps with the best kind of weight loss —fat loss, as opposed to muscle loss.
Some Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
One of the advantages of intermittent fasting, as opposed to other techniques is that it’s easier for most people to follow than calorie restriction. It has also been proven to reduce insulin levels, improve insulin sensitivity and cause weight loss comparative to calorie restriction.
According to several studies, the 4:3 diet (fasting every other day) helps reduce insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, heart arrhythmias, menopausal hot flashes, etc. Participants in one of the studies lost 4-7% of their waist circumference over 24 weeks. That means they lost quite a lot of harmful belly fat. Intermittent fasting generally causes a smaller reduction in muscle mass loss than conventional diets.
Of course, it’s even more effective in tandem with exercise. Especially, endurance or strength training.
What to Eat
On fast days, look for nutritious, high-protein, high-fiber food that fill you up without lots of calories. Soup can be a good choice because the additional liquid helps to fill the stomach. Eat lots of vegetables. In addition, natural yogurt is great (real yogurt) with fresh fruit. Eggs, fish and lean meat are a good source of protein. You can drink black coffee or tea or still or sparkling water.
There are many websites that have great meal plans and recipes for the 5:2 diet. Also, several cookbooks include recipes for the 5:2 diet plan. And, you can find lots of recipes to use that contain 500–600 calories. It’s a good idea to stick to nutritious, high-fiber, high-protein foods.
You can expect to experience extreme hunger for the first day. You may also feel a bit slower or weaker than usual. Don’t worry. That’s normal. If you keep busy, the hunger should die down. You’ll probably find that it gets easier after a couple of fast weeks. You may want to keep a few small snacks within reach to stave off that feeling of starvation. Make sure to ask your doctor before beginning the 5:2 fast or the 4:3 fast. Furthermore, if you repeatedly feel ill or faint during fast days, eat something. Don’t continue fasting. You should probably talk with your doctor about whether or not you should continue
If you are able to tolerate intermittent fasting, it may help to bring about improved homeostasis in your constitution along with better health and well-being.