Naturopaths have been touting the benefits of good gut health for years, but it’s only recently that modern medicine has started to catch on to role that gut health plays in your overall health. While there are many things you can do to create healthier gut bacteria, there is one simple tip to achieve better gut health right away – fasting.
The idea of going without food for any period of time can seem daunting for some, but intermittent fasting is a new and, dare I say, achievable way of fasting that means you don’t have to skip work or commitments so you can stay home and be hungry and miserable!
After a period of lots of eating and drinking, like the Christmas holidays, my wife Dayna and I like to go through a period of intermittent fasting to give our guts a ‘break’ and get our gut health back on track.
Improving your gut health is all about feeding your microbiome – the millions of good bacteria in your gut – the right foods so that they thrive. These beneficial bacteria influence everything from optimising our digestion and immune system to boosting our moods and memory.
When you eat, your body works hard to break down, assimilating and absorb those nutrients. Your immune system also has to be alert to everything passing through the gastrointestinal tract. If you’re constantly eating and snacking, you’re not giving your digestive system much time off.
Fasting is one way to give your gut a well-deserved break from all the hard work of breaking up and digesting your food, giving it time to focus on cleaning, growing and repairing.
In fact, fasting for 16 hours a day (with a window of eating of 8 hours) extends the time for detoxification and autophagy. Autophagy means “self-eating”, and refers to the processes by which your body cleans out various debris, including toxins and recycles damaged cell components. Fasting can even increasing the diversity of gut bacteria – which is crucial for your immunity and overall health.
Another bonus of intermittent fasting, is that it helps you enter ketosis, or fat burning mode, by shifting your energy pathways away from using glucose (sugar) to burn fat instead. Insulin levels lower and growth hormones increase, which increases the release of fat burning hormones to facilitate weight loss.
How to try fasting
For maximum effect try to intermittent fast a minimum of 2 days per week, up to 7 days per week. You’ll need to fast for a minimum of 12 hours a day, ideally 16 hours. One of the easiest ways to try intermittent fasting is to have dinner by 8pm at the latest, and then breakfast or your first meal of the day from 8am-12pm. Remember breakfast = break the fast. Breakfast is totally optional and may depend on hunger levels.
Fasts beyond this can be done but require support. Be sure to speak with your Naturopath before attempting to fast. Book a free 15 minute phone chat with a qualified Naturopath today – Click here to book now.