~ Hippocrates, Father of Modern Medicine
Healthy Gut = Healthy You!
Our digestive tracts are chock full of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, collectively known as our “microbiome.” While some of these are associated with disease and infection, many are vitally important for our overall health and wellbeing, our immune system, heart health, metabolism and weight.
Our microbiome works synergistically. When working well, this complex system includes about 3-5 pounds of bacteria—trillions of microorganisms—made up of 300 to 1000 different species. A healthy gut contributes to a healthy you. Responsible for your digestive and immune systems, your gut impacts your ability to produce and absorb vitamins and minerals; regulate hormones; produce neurotransmitters; and eliminate toxins.
“Your gut wall houses 70 percent of the cells that make up your immune system,” says Dr. Mark Hyman, Medical Director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Centre of Functional Medicine and ten-time New York Times best-selling author. “You might not attribute digestive problems with allergies, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, acne, chronic fatigue, mood disorders, autism, dementia, and cancer. Many diseases seemingly unrelated are actually caused by gut problems.”
Studies in gut health have consistently shown the importance of “good bacteria” and fasting. In fact, research recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that fasting can “flip a genetic switch” that reduces inflammation and protects your microbiome. Fasting has also been shown to boost your immune system and increase insulin sensitivity and metabolism, helping maintain a healthy weight and reduce excess body fat.
Intermittent fasting provides these positive benefits without going one or more days without food. Instead, intermittent fasting works by reducing the number of hours per day you eat, typically to a six to eight hour period (such as eating your meals between noon and 8 pm). Then fast the remaining 14-18 hours per day.
“I think fasting is a good strategy to lose weight without feeling deprived or suffering, as it allows you to have full meals, eating what your like, but overall you’re still eating less,” says Dr. Peter LePort, physician, and Medical Director of the Memorial Care Centre for Obesity at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Centre, California.