October 16, 2022 8:17 am

Fasting and it’s beneficial effects on the microbiome

Fasting has gone mainstream. Many diets focus on what to eat but intermittent fasting is all about when you eat. Now days when I speak to anyone in the health and wellness space, almost 80% of them express, that they choose to implement fasting into their health routine in one way or another. This post will dive deeper into why this is and what benefits it has.

What is Fasting and Intermitted Fasting?

Fasting: Is the prolonged period where you abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink.

Intermitted Fasting: Intermittent fasting, Is the when you only eat during a specific time. Fasting for a certain number of hours each day or eating one meal a day. Simply put, intermittent fasting is when you go without eating food for an extended period of time as a way to lower inflammation and achieve certain health benefits.

Fasting is a concept that originally shocked people, with the idea of skipping a meal being simply crazy. However with a little insight to the science and just by taking a look back throughout history, you will begin to realise that it is not crazy to skip a meal but actually how we are constantly 2 hours away from our next meal, kind of is. 

Fasting’s Impact On The Microbiome

 It restores your gut health

Your microbiome is not stagnant. In fact, the bacterial colonies of your gut ebb and flow throughout the day, rising and falling based on if you are sleeping, eating, or awake. While this is normal, our traditional 3 meals a day schedule plus snacking isn’t. This constant eating throws off this natural rhythm but giving your gut a break from eating can restore it to its natural flow. 

Studies also show that fasting lowers inflammation in gut problems like IBS and Crohn’s disease while also lowering inflammatory markers IL-6 and CRP.

Types Of Fasting

The amount of time that you fast for can vary depending on your health case. Ideally, you would start off with shorter fasting windows and gradually increase the time between meals as your body adjusts.

Prolonged Fast- Done under medical supervision and consulting with medical professionals

Intermitted Fasting- 

Beginners: 12-12 (eat in 12 hour window, fast for 12 hours) or 10-14(eat in a 10 hour window, fast for 14 hours)

Intermediate: 8-16, most popular fasting technique. (Eat in 8 hour window, fast for 16 hours)

Advanced: 6-18 (eat in 6 hour window fast for 18 hours) or  OMAD (one meal a day fast)

My Fasting Experience

I came to fasting with an open mind and a problem I was looking to solve. I had been experiencing food intolerance and dysbiosis-like issues for a few years, which was causing bloating, sensitivities and a overwhelm when knowing what to eat. I was at a point where the stress of having to think about what wasn’t going to upset my stomach, was upsetting my stomach alone.

Intermitted fasting helps me give my digestive system a break and allows me to take a break from breaking down food all the time. I found that fasting for 15-16 hours most days, was doing wonders for my digestive system and showed me results in a few months. My approach to fasting is not extreme and have found a way of eating that works for me and allows room for flexibility. I try to check in with my body and ask myself what kind of approach to fasting I want to take each day, which usually depends on social and environmental factors. 

I stumbled along the path of Dave Asprey’s work (from bulletproof )and Dr Will Cole (a leading functional medicine doctor) and started to uncover the science that was emerging around fasting and the coloration between gut health maintenance. The research has found that fasting periods, ranging from several hours to a day, can support the health of the gut microbiome. Intermitted fasting has a substantial impact on remodelling the gut microbiome and improving our metabolic health and decreasing inflammation. This is because when fasting the bacterial and gene modules associated with short-chain fatty acid production, whilst increasing microbial richness and diversity which increases levels of the beneficial SCFA, butyrate which are associated with a healthy gut microbiome. 

During a fast you can reach a point of fasting where you enter a state of autophagy. Autophagy is the consumption of the body’s own tissue as a metabolic process occurring during fasting. Autophagy plays a key role in maintaining intestinal homeostasis, in regulating the interaction between gut microbiota and innate and adaptive immunity, and in host defence against intestinal pathogens. A dysfunction of autophagy is associated with several human pathologies including IBD (irritable bowel disease).

Fasting Is Not For Everyone

Fasting is not a correct fit for everyone. There are certain groups of people who should not try intermittent fasting or prolonged fasting, especially without talking to their doctor first. This includes people with diabetes, people who are on medication for blood pressure or heart disease, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. 

If you do decide to try out Intermitted fasting, giving yourself grace and allowing room for flexibility is vital to keep consistent. Not fasting for the odd day is not a problem! It’s what we do consistently on the day to day is the secret to results.

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This post was written by Amelia Crossley