Vaibhav Vagal, Region IV-E Student Advisory Committee Representative
August 30, 2019
In today’s fast paced world driven by speed, competitiveness and constant connectedness, college students are exposed to more and more stress in their daily lives. This pursuit of success can encourage an unhealthy lifestyle and choices that can make us vulnerable to various diseases at an early age.
What if we could have a simple yet highly effective method that would help keep us healthy with minimal fuss? That’s where intermittent fasting comes in.
Intermittent fasting is simple. It entails not eating any food during a particular time window. This duration of the fast could be 12/16/24/36 hours. Drinking water, green tea, or black coffee is permitted which means you can still get your favorite Starbucks coffee in the morning to wake you up!
Doing an intermittent fast consistently or even daily can have multiple beneficial effects on the body. Studies have shown that fasting combined with high intensity interval training can improve growth hormone production. [1, 2] Growth hormone helps reduce the risk of neuro-degenerative diseases and is associated with longevity of life.  Furthermore, it can also help you lose weight and pesky belly fat. [3, 4] Intermittent fasting can increase your metabolic rate significantly and will facilitate the breakdown of body fat storage. [1, 2, 3]
We live in an era where we are constantly eating. Every time you eat your digestive track has to go to work. This does not give it much time to recover, heal and regenerate.  Intermittent fasting gives the body a break to regenerate tissue in vital organs such as the liver, pancreas, digestive track, brain, etc.  It can also help the skin look good and build muscle. Some of the other benefits may include: losing fat, a reduction in insulin resistance, lower cholesterol, and lower inflammation as the body gets better at recycling. [1, 2, 3]
My personal experience with fasting is that I have been able to integrate this method easily in my daily life. As a current college student, a 16 hour fast is adequate to reap the benefits. Sixteen hours may seem like a long time, but is actually not very much time at all. I have found that having dinner at 8 pm makes for a smooth transition to having lunch at 12 pm the next day. On top of the other health benefits, I have also had better mental clarity and focus. All of these perks combined have made it very worthwhile to make this practice a part of my everyday life.
A quick word of caution: intermittent fasting can be dangerous if used inappropriately. Before you embark on this journey, please make sure you do your research and work with a healthcare provider to ensure it is done safely.
Intermittent fasting was how our ancestors lived for many centuries when food was scarce. We have trained our minds to constantly seek food and gain pleasure from it. Many times, we unconsciously end up eating to offset an emotional need. Regularly eating at short intervals and overloading ourselves with an excess of carbs, sugar and proteins can disturb the balance in our bodies. This does not give our cells time to clean up and can cause harm to our bodies in the long run.
In a nutshell - intermittent fasting combined with proper exercise can not only bring upon vast health benefits but can help you live the life you want to live.
Helpful Links to Guide Your Intermittent Fasting Strategy
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