Monday, June 16, 2014

Want to Lose Weight? Try Intermittent Fasting. It works! But watch the Zinc!

                                                                                                                                                          When I was on a trip recently, I ate fabulous food came home three pounds lighter and able to    fit my favourite pair of pants now. How did I do this? By in large, I ate well for two days and on the third I ate very little, like a salad, but had lots of water to drink. This is a form of intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term that covers a wide array of ways, over a week, to have lower amounts of food. As a general rule, it involves cutting calories to 500 a day for women and 600 a day for men, either a couple of days a week, every other day, or even daily.

There is so much to recommend intermittent fasting: normalizing of ghrelin and leptin and insulin. And the resulting many health benefits. 

Before you go on to read about the benefits, I want to mention one reservation I have with intermittent fasting, especially if you are not supplementing  with vitamins and minerals. There is a genetic condition called Pyroluria, where the person with this condition requires more zinc than is recommended for the general population. And most people with this condition don't even know it and are already zinc and B6 deficient. Cutting 1-2,000 calories a week could get you into big trouble if you aren't supplementing with zinc.

The zinc and B6 are required for the metabolism and removal of pyrroles. People with pyroluria need more zinc, sometimes up to 10 times more zinc, to remove the pyrroles. If pyrroles accumulate because of low zinc intake, or lower intake because of reducing total calories of food per week, even slightly, multiple metabolic processes break down. 

Because everyone is an individual, I can't predict what symptoms may develop, but some are very serious and include eating disorders, suicidation, mania, depression and other mental health problems, and rashes, liver stress, and more serious conditions. A serum zinc level does not appear to help me assess if someone is low in zinc as I believe, because zinc is the most common mineral used in enzymes and metabolic processes, the body will ration the zinc, have a steady state of zinc in the blood but won't let it be used as it should, but for the little it takes to just stay alive. 

Along with intermittent fasting, I suggest taking  an extra 10 mg of zinc more a day, or 70 mg a week. If you have some of the symptoms (or your family members have some of the symptoms of zinc deficiency) I would suggest you ask your doctor to test your level of zinc. 

Dr. Mercola has written a fine article on the subject of intermittent fasting detailing the multiple health benefits, and here is an excerpt: 

Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Fasting is historically commonplace as it has been a part of spiritual practice for millennia. But modern science has confirmed there are many good reasons for fasting, including the following:
  -Normalizing your insulin and leptin sensitivity, and boosting mitochondrial energy efficiency:        of the primary mechanisms that makes intermittent fasting so beneficial for health is related to    its impact on your insulin sensitivity. While sugar is a source of energy for your body, it also        promotes insulin resistance when consumed in the amounts found in our modern processed      junk food diets. Insulin resistance, in turn, is a primary driver of chronic disease, from heart disease to cancer.

   Intermittent fasting helps reset your body to use fat as its primary fuel, and mounting evidence    primary fuel, you dramatically reduce your risk of chronic disease.

  -Normalizing ghrelin levels, also known as "the hunger hormone"

  -Promoting human growth hormone (HGH) production: Research has shown fasting can raise HGH by as much as 1,300 percent in women, and 2,000 percent in men, which plays an important part in health, fitness, and slowing the aging process. HGH is also a fat-burning hormone, which helps explain why fasting is so effective for weight loss.

  -Lowering triglyceride levels and improving other biomarkers of disease.

  -Reducing oxidative stress: Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative radicals in the cell, and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease

There's also plenty of research showing that fasting has a beneficial impact on longevity in animals. There are a number of mechanisms contributing to this effect. Normalizing insulin sensitivity is a major one, but fasting also inhibits themTOR pathway, which plays an important part in driving the aging process.

Dr. Michael Mosley a British author, journalist and documentary filmmaker, became so convinced of the health benefits of intermittent fasting he wrote a book on the subject, called The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting. Now I'll have to read it.

How ever you decide to lower your total weekly calories with intermittent fasting, ( I would recommend a grain free diet/protocol like GAPS as the best) you will have lasting benefits and feel better. And supplement with nutrients, especially zinc. 

To Your Health

Dr. Barbara