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As we age, the quest for vitality, health, and strength becomes our biggest goal. This pursuit can take various forms, but one aspect that often slips our attention is our eating habits. Yet, what and how we eat not only shapes our physical health but also influences our emotions and mental well-being.

 

The truth is that our eating habits either help us navigate our lives or become obstacles, which is all the more reason to take them seriously and tweak them as necessary. Intermittent fasting is one of the most beloved and popular ways to do this in the past several years. This practice can have strong positive effects on emotional stability and mental clarity in seniors, and if you’d like to try it out, here’s what you should know.

What is intermittent fasting?

Fasting is hardly a novel concept, as it’s been a part of different traditions for thousands of years, but the newly discovered health benefits propelled the practice to stardom. When you choose to fast, you choose not to eat for a certain amount of time, and the intermittent part means that you can decide during which part of the day you can eat and for how long.

 

The reason fasting can be healing is that it triggers the process of autophagy. This happens when the body is without food for a prolonged time, and in an attempt to secure energy, it starts to feed on itself (the word autophagy literally means “self-eating”). More precisely, your cells reuse their old and damaged parts to give the body energy, thus practically recycling the clutter within them. The result is healthier cells without potentially damaging components that are more susceptible to disease.

 

Intermittent fasting helps you include scheduled autophagy fasting in your life by helping you determine during which hours of the day you eat and during which you fast. There are different fasting schedules, but the ones that are most sustainable for seniors are:

 

  • 12:12 (you can have meals for 12 hours and then fast for the next 12)
  • 16:8 (you abstain from food for 16 hours and then continue to eat normally for 8)
  • 20:4 (a bit more advanced, as you fast for 20 hours and eat normally for 4)

 

There are other schedules you can try on for size, but if you’re just getting started, the 12:12 or 16:8 regimen is the best option to get started.

Intermittent Fasting and Mental Clarity

So, how can fasting help you live a better, more active life as a senior? It may seem like autophagy and strong cognitive functions aren’t connected, but the truth is that a continual fasting routine affects the whole body, including your brain.

 

One of the biggest benefits of autophagy is that it promotes the growth of new brain cells and slows down cognitive decline that can happen as we age. Abstaining from eating for a set amount of time every day can significantly reduce your insulin levels, helping your body manage its energy in a more optimized way, which in turn also boosts your brain health.

 

Autophagy can also trigger the release of certain proteins (BDNF) that can not only protect your neurons but also build new neural pathways. This translates to improved mental clarity and concentration. Maintaining cognitive health is absolutely essential as you age, and intermittent fasting could be one of the processes to help you stay sharp as a tack.

Intermittent Fasting and Emotional Stability

Mental and emotional health are closely entwined, so it’s only natural that fasting and autophagy can help improve both. We already mentioned how autophagy kick-starts the production of neurogenesis, and this is directly connected not only with mental clarity, but also with improved mood regulation.

 

Fasting also directly affects the balance of your gut microbiome, which is the seat of your immune system and hormone regulation. If your gut is out of whack, your whole body will feel it. Here, autophagy can help by altering and reducing the production of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol and nurturing the presence of serotonin and dopamine. This, in turn, can help you feel more relaxed and make you more resilient in times of stress. This goes to say that the hormonal adjustments that are constantly happening while you’re fasting can pave the way to a more calm and stable emotional state.

Additional Health Benefits of Fasting for Seniors

While mental clarity and emotional stability are easily among the biggest advantages intermittent fasting can offer to seniors, they’re not the only ones. There are other benefits that can help you improve your overall quality of life, including:

 

  • Lowered risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes
  • Lowered risk of various neurodegenerative diseases
  • Reduced inflammation in the body, which can prevent cardiovascular diseases and improve heart health
  • Balanced and healthy body weight that contributes to better quality of life and independence

 

The list goes on. Intermittent fasting and autophagy can bring about a slew of health and lifestyle improvements, but before you start, it’s crucial to take precautions. Be sure to consult your doctor, especially if you have special health needs or a medication schedule.

Conclusion

As you can see, giving intermittent fasting a go could bring you many positive changes, both in your health and how you live. As long as you have the support of your health provider and you find a fasting schedule that works for you, this practice can be an effective way to boost your well-being on a holistic level and help you lead a fulfilling life.

Melissa

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