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Curious about intermittent fasting? Here’s what experts say you should know

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What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is becoming more widely discussed, with research still emerging. This week, Dr. Jason Fung, a nephrologist and expert on intermittent fasting, shares his tips on who should fast and how to do it.

Intermittent fasting (IF) isn’t a new way to eat, but researchers and experts say it’s an area that has potential.

It is important to know that research on intermittent fasting “is still in its infancy,” said Amy Kirkham, an assistant professor in the University of Toronto’s clinical cardiovascular health department. She has also led several studies on time-restricted eating, a form of IF.

Intermittent fasting is generally defined as the cycle of eating and then fasting.

The length of fasting can vary, depending on the person or approach.

“The idea is not deprivation or to go into excess, but to balance the feeding and the fasting because both are very essential for us,” Dr. Jason Fung, a nephrologist and author of several books on IF, told CBC’s The Dose guest host Dr. Peter Lin.

Anar Allidina, a registered dietitian based in Richmond Hill, Ont., says that intermittent fasting is “like a reset” for our bodies. The break from eating prompts our bodies to cleanse itself and get rid of more old cells, she adds.

Fung and others say there is some promising research showing the health benefits of IF, like improved cardiovascular health.

Research has shown that many of the health benefits of fasting are usually seen between the 14 to 16-hour mark, says Allidina.

“Studies have shown that during this time that you’re fasting, [it] can have really important markers in your metabolic health, for example with cholesterol, with blood sugars and inflammation. So it can really help with lowering those levels,” she said.

But before you even consider fasting, Allidina and Fung emphasized that it isn’t for everyone.

So if you’re interested, here’s what experts say you should know about intermittent fasting.

Is it safe?

For most people, it is absolutely safe to pause eating for periods of time, says Allidina.

“Giving your body that break is absolutely OK and it’s actually good for you,” she said.

Those who shouldn’t try intermittent fasting are:

  • Anyone with a history of an eating disorder.
  • Anyone who is underweight or malnourished.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Women who are breastfeeding.
  • Children.

Allidina and Fung recommend speaking with your health-care provider before trying intermittent fasting.

Is there only one way to intermittently fast?

There are several different approaches to intermittent fasting.

Time-restricted eating (TRE) is a common way as it limits when you eat your meals and snacks to a specific time period.

Experts say there aren’t hard and fast rules with intermittent fasting and that it can be adapted to your work or social schedule. (Mediteraneo/Adobe Stock)

Fung says the most common fasting strategy is 16 hours of fasting and eating within an eight-hour time period.

“So you might eat for example from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. or you might do it early, say 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. There’s various ways to do it, but that’s one of the more popular schedules,” he said.

Another approach is the 5:2 method, where you eat normally for five days and then restrict calories two days a week to about 500 calories a day for women and 600 calories for men.

Alternate day fasting, or ADF, is when someone consumes food during an eight-hour period and then doesn’t eat the next day, which translates to roughly 36 hours of fasting.

Fung adds there is flexibility with intermittent fasting.

“There’s pluses and minuses of all of those strategies. So it’s not like one is right and one is wrong. It’s finding what really works for you,” he said.

Are there health benefits?

Yes, but it depends on the length of the fast and fasting type.

Anecdotally, Fung and Allidina have heard from people who tried intermittent fasting that they feel more alert and energized, and less tired.

Research on other health benefits is varied.

University of Illinois researchers who published a review of clinical trials found that the three major types of intermittent fasting — TRE, the 5:2 diet and ADF — can cause “mild to moderate weight loss” in those who were overweight and obese.

 

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They said that mild to moderate weight loss was a change of about one to eight per cent from baseline. But, they said ADF and the 5:2 diet are “the only fasting approaches that produce clinically significant weight loss,” according to their review published in the peer-reviewed Annual Review of Nutrition journal in 2021.

They went on to say that these regimens “may also improve” some aspects of cardiometabolic health such as blood pressure.

Korean researchers who published their systemic review and meta-analysis in the peer-reviewed Nutrients journal in 2020 found that time-restricted eating can help some shed some pounds and have better cardiovascular health.

Fung says people may lose weight while fasting because the body uses two different types of energy: sugar and fat.

When the body runs out of glucose (the main type of sugar in the blood), it’ll turn to fat stores, a process known as metabolic switching.

Yet, there is research — including a study published a week ago in the Journal of the American Heart Association — that suggests intermittent fasting approaches may not be better for weight loss than restricting calories.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last year showed that among 139 obese participants, time-restricted eating with calories restricted was “not more beneficial” than daily calorie restriction.

Other researchers who led a randomized clinical trial and published results in 2020 found that time-restricted eating did not show significantly different weight loss nor cardiometabolic benefits compared to the controlled group.

In another study published in 2017 in the peer-reviewed JAMA, researchers did not find alternate-day fasting better for weight loss or weight maintenance compared with daily calorie restriction.

Kirkham says more studies on intermittent fasting are needed.

“We certainly do need more research to really fully understand all the different parameters and its potential health effects and certainly its safety within specific populations,” said Kirkham, who was recently awarded funding by Diabetes Canada to research which intermittent fasting period best impacts blood-sugar control.

More research is needed on intermittent fasting approaches, especially on the long-term effects, according to several researchers who have published studies.

If I want to try it out, how can I start?

Before anyone starts intermittent fasting, Allidina suggests people ensure their diet is full of essential nutrients.

“Once that’s done, then you can bring in the intermittent fasting slowly, starting with the 12-hour fasting and increasing it up to 14 to 15 to see how you feel with that,” she said.

Poster of Canada's Food Guide in Misty Rossiter's office.
Before you start intermittent fasting, registered dietitian Dr. Anar Allidina recommends making sure your diet is made up of healthy foods and essential nutrients. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

She adds that fasting doesn’t need to happen every single day in the beginning, as it will take time to build it into your schedule.

There are also free apps that can help people keep track of their intermittent fasting, Kirkham says.

Most people cope with the eating schedule change after that first week, she adds. When starting out, it’s important to remember that minor symptoms like headaches, feeling hungry or irritability are common.

“It may be a bit of a shock to the system initially, but I think if you try it for two weeks … and if you don’t feel better then maybe you have your answer,” said Kirkham.

“Like any health intervention, it’s not a one-size-fits-all.”

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Several Vitamins Recalled Due to Potential Metal Contamination, Including Products Sold at Costco and Walmart

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Several types of vitamins, including some popular brands sold at major retailers like Costco and Walmart, are being recalled due to the possible presence of metal fibers. Health Canada issued three recall statements on Friday, highlighting the affected products and advising consumers on the necessary steps.

Among the brands involved in the recall is Kirkland Signature, a staple at Costco, along with Webber Naturals and other brands sold at multiple retailers across Canada, including Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart.

The vitamins listed in the recall are:

  • Kirkland Signature: B100 Complex Timed Release
  • Life: Vitamin B Complex with Vitamin C
  • Option+ & Life: Prenatal Multi-vitamins 100 Tablets with Folic Acid, Spectrum Prenatal Postpartum, Multivitamins & Minerals Women, Spectrum Women 22 Vitamins & Minerals plus Lutein, Lycopene
  • Webber Naturals: B50 Complex Timed Release, Most Complete Multi Womens 50+ One Per Day, Most Complete Multi Mens 50+ One Per Day, Vitamin B50 Complex
  • Wellness by London Drugs, Option+ & Life: Multi Women/Femmes 50+ with Lycopene and Lutein Multivitamin and Mineral, Multivitamin & Minerals Women 50+, 50+ SPECTRUM Women/Femmes 50+ 23 Vitamins & Minerals plus Lutein, Lycopene
  • Wellquest, Equate, Option+, Wellness by London Drugs & Life: Vitamin B100 Complex, Timed Release
  • Natural Factors: Hi Potency B Complex, RevitalX, Super Multi® IRON FREE
  • VegiDay Vegan Organic ALL IN ONE: VegiDay Vegan Organic ALL IN ONE

Health Canada advises consumers who have purchased any of the affected products to consult their healthcare provider before discontinuing use and to monitor for any health concerns.

Customers with concerns or questions can contact the recall firm directly. Additionally, any side effects or health product safety complaints should be reported to Health Canada.

For more detailed information, you can access the three Health Canada notices, which are listed under the Factors Group of Nutritional Companies Inc. recall, on the Health Canada website.

This recall serves as a reminder to consumers to stay vigilant about product safety and to follow recall advisories to ensure their health and well-being.

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8 Tips for Incorporating More Fruits into Your Dessert

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Incorporating more fruits into your desserts is not just a way to enhance flavours, but also a smart approach to add nutritional value to your treats. While desserts are often indulged as guilty pleasures, introducing fruits can transform these moments into healthier delights, enriching them with vitamins, minerals, and fibres. Whether you’re a home cook looking to improve your family’s diet or a culinary expert aiming to innovate your menu, adding fruits offers a myriad of benefits. These range from boosting the aesthetic appeal of your dishes with vibrant colours to enhancing the natural sweetness with a lower calorie count.

The tips provided here will help you seamlessly integrate more fruits into your dessert recipes, making them irresistibly wholesome and appealing to all ages. This approach not only caters to the health-conscious consumer but also opens up a palette of fresh, tantalizing flavours that can redefine what dessert means.

Explore Variety

Diversity is key in enriching desserts with fruits. Experiment with different textures and flavours, from berries to tropical fruits. This variety ensures each bite is unique and delightful. Try combining sour cherries with sweet mangoes, or add citrus segments to balance richer desserts. Even blending frozen bananas into a creamy texture can mimic ice cream. Consider adding a double fudge bar frozen dessert to your fruit platter for an indulgent twist.

Use Fresh and Seasonal Fruits

Seasonal fruits offer the best in flavour and nutrition. Incorporate fresh, local produce into your desserts to capture peak tastiness. Fresh strawberries or peaches can elevate simple dishes like ice cream or cakes. Local farmers’ markets are ideal for finding the freshest options. Remember, the closer the fruit is grown to its consumption point, the more nutrients it retains. This approach supports local agriculture as well.

Make Fruit the Star

Create desserts where fruits are the main attraction. Dishes like fruit tarts or berry-packed pavlovas highlight the natural sweetness of fruits, reducing the need for added sugars. Let fruits dictate the dessert’s flavour profile and design, focusing on the natural colours to attract the eye. This strategy can make even simple dishes feel luxurious and crafted with care. Plus, it often leads to lighter, less calorie-dense desserts.

Opt for Healthier Preparations

Instead of always baking or frying, try raw preparations or use healthier cooking methods like grilling or poaching. Grilled pineapple or poached pears offer a delightful texture and are easy to prepare. These methods preserve the integrity and nutritional value of the fruit better than baking or frying. Cooking fruit in this way can also unlock new flavours, enhancing your dessert experience. Try brushing fruit with a little honey or maple syrup before grilling for a caramelized finish.

Experiment with Spices

Spices can enhance the natural flavour of fruits. A dash of cinnamon, cardamom, or vanilla complements fruits like apples and pears beautifully, adding complexity to any dessert. Nutmeg and ginger are also excellent with juicy fruits like peaches and plums. Experimenting with spices can transform a simple fruit dish into an exotic and enticing dessert. Such additions are simple but effective ways to elevate the taste without added sugar.

Incorporate Dried Fruits

Dried fruits are concentrated in flavour and can be a great addition to desserts. Sprinkle raisins, dried cranberries, or chopped dates over oatmeal cookies or mix them into homemade granola bars for a chewy texture. Dried fruits work well in baked goods because they provide a burst of sweetness and texture. They are also perfect for decorating cakes and adding to snack mixes. Be mindful of the sugar content in store-bought dried fruits, opting for unsweetened varieties when available.

Create Colourful Fruit Layers

Layer fruits in parfaits, trifles, or cakes to create visually appealing and delicious desserts. Layers of colourful fruits not only look spectacular, but also offer varied flavours and textures. This layering technique can be applied in smoothie bowls and gelatin desserts for a stunning visual effect. Try to choose fruits that contrast in colour and texture for the most striking presentations. These desserts are particularly appealing to children and can make eating fruit more exciting for them.

Finish with A Healthy Twist

Top off your desserts with a nutritious twist, such as a dollop of Greek yogurt or a sprinkle of nuts and seeds for extra crunch and nutrients. These additions provide a contrast in textures and increase the health benefits of your dessert. Nuts add healthy fats and proteins, making the dessert more satisfying. Consider using a drizzle of natural sweeteners like honey or agave nectar to enhance flavour without resorting to refined sugars. Such finishes not only improve taste but also boost nutritional value, aligning with a healthier lifestyle.

Incorporating fruits into your desserts is an enjoyable way to make your sweet dishes healthier and more flavourful. By using fruits in various forms, from frozen to dried, and employing them in creative ways, such as natural sweeteners or vibrant toppings, you can transform any dessert into a delightful and nutritious treat. So next time you prepare a dessert, remember these tips and enjoy the added benefits of fruits in your culinary creations.

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5 Life-Transforming Tips to Make it More Fun-Filled

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Everyone wants to make the most out of life. From personal life to establishing a successful career, enjoyment is all that people crave the most. But the key to happiness is having fun most of the time. It can be challenging to find time and moments of fun in the routine as life becomes boring and dull for many.

However, you can cultivate your mindset and embrace more pleasure and laughter in your everyday routine. To transform your boring and dull life into a fun-filled one, here are a few tips that you can consider in this blog.

Read on to explore!

 

1.    Start Enjoying Little Moments

The fun doesn’t need to come from an extensive and spectacular event happening around your life all the time. There are so many small moments in your life that can turn into more fun. All you have to do is embrace those little times in your life and be happy.

For example, you can give yourself a little break from a hectic day and enjoy some chocolate. Or you can make time to enjoy things that you like.

 

2.    Be Spontaneous In Life

Just like life becomes unexpected most of the time, you can be a little unpredictable with it as well. To bring fun to your life, you can work on being more open to new and unplanned experiences.

If you get an invitation for any activity, event, or sport, don’t say no to it. Getting to indulge in more social activities will help you create new memories and experience new thrills in life.

 

3.    Bring a Furry Friend in Life

A boring life can easily distance you from fun. To embrace joy in life, having a furry company can do wonders. You can cherish love and warmth and have little moments of joy with a furry one.

If you don’t have a furry companion, you’re majorly missing joy. It’s time for you to look for the best puppy-selling company, such as Fou Fou Puppie’s website, to bring a cute puppy into your life.

 

4.    Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness will help you to live the present to the fullest. As most people worry more about their future, it makes them overlook the current joys of life.

What you can consider best to bring fun to your life is practicing mindfulness for at least 2 minutes. Let go of all the thoughts that pop into your head and focus on the positive aspects of living.

 

5.    Participate More in Fun Activities

There should be no excuse for having fun in life as there are many low-cost fun activities for the community that you can explore to have fun. It can be simple, but it prevents you from living a boring and less-inspiring life.

For example, you can call your group of friends to have coffee together and share more laughter, or you can go to the movies to unwind yourself. These activities will not cost you a fortune and allow you to make the most out of your day, week, and month.

 

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