Eight steps to a healthier you – Intermittent fasting and 8 ways to support longevity

Intermitted fasting or fasting mimicking diet have become a hot topic over the last couple of years. Fasting has been used for centuries for healing purposes and part of religious or spiritual practices to deepen your connection to spirit or God.

For a lot of people, the thought of fasting seems extreme and challenging. It takes a lot of commitment and support to do proper water fasting for 3 to 5 days. However, recent research is showing that intermitted fasting or fasting mimicking diet creates similar results to water fasting. When we fast it gives the body a chance to heal and repair. It is being used for healing chronic illnesses as well as part of treatment plans for cancer.

The research is showing by simply reducing the time period for eating during the day and increasing the fasting period overnight has a huge impact in longevity and optimal health. For intermitted fasting you fast for between 12 and 16 hours overnight. This would be like stopping eating after dinner at 7 pm and then not eating breakfast until 9 am in the morning. This time period would be fasting for 14 hours.

Top tips based on the research from Dr Valter Longo, PhD the director of the Longevity Institute USC:

1. Eat a mostly vegan diet with some fish. Minimise bad fats (from animal products and dairy) and sugars, and maximising good facts (like nuts and seeds) and complex carbohydrates (like vegetables, beans, lentils and whole grains). During the eating window it is about getting optimal nutrition into the body that is easy to digest.

2. During the eating window it is best to eat twice a day plus a snack unless your weight or muscle mass is low and then it would be three meals plus a snack. During ageing the body requires more protein to maintain muscle mass.

3. Exercise is also important for longevity. Walk fast for one hour getting your heart rate up, alongside doing some sort of weight training or weight-bearing exercises can help to build bone density and maintain muscle mass especially as you age.

4. To be nourished in the modern day world vitamins and minerals supplements can be helpful as our soil no longer provides certain nutrients. Nutrients and minerals are important for bodies repair, replacement, and defence system to boost immunity.

5. When planning our meals we quite often eat the same things from day to day. However, to provide the right required nutrients for the body we need to eat a variety of foods that are in season. It is helpful to eat foods that is are locally grown.

6. Eat the table of your ancestors by choosing foods that would be common to your ethnicity. Ie – Asian countries traditionally would not have a lot of dairy in their diet and when they try to follow a western diet it causes a lot of health problems for them leading to autoimmune conditions.

7. Time restricted eating restrict your eating to 11 to 16 hours. Shorter periods of feeding have been shown to have an positive effect in promoting health and longevity.

8. For optimal health you can also follow the practice of periodic prolonged fasting which would be the more traditional way of fasting. This would be undergoing a water fast or calorie restricted diet for five days. This is known to have remarkable effects on disease risk factors and optimisation of health and longevity.

Erin O’Hara is a Naturopath & Medical Herbalist. She runs a number of yoga and meditation practices out of her Golden Yogi studio in Takapuna Auckland. She is Golden Yogi Director & Founder, a Yoga & Meditation Teacher, a Qualified Naturopath, a medical herbalist and a passionate health & wellness lover.

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