The benefits of eating when you touch, beyond losing weight

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It is not just a fad. Well done and supervised by a healthcare professional, the intermittent fasting is a strategy that, in certain profiles (not everyone can do it), helps to lose weight and gain health reducing the hours of intake of the day. There are several types: in alternating days or what is known as time-restricted feeding, which implies that you can only eat during a specific time window of the day. Meals are concentrated in 8-10 hours of the day and the other 16-14 hours, which usually coincide for the most part with the hours of sleep, fasting is done, although water, coffee or infusions without sugar and broths are allowed.

Recent studies, mostly in animals, and some in humans, although with few participants and in the short term, have found some advantages in this eating pattern. One of the latest published, carried out in mice by Salk scientists and published in the journal “Cell Reports”, shows that this approach confers certain health benefits. The results suggest that it may be a valuable intervention for prevent type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and liver cancer, and even for a better recovery from infectious diseases.

“In many time-restricted feeding clinical interventions the main outcome is the weightloss, but we have found that it is good not only for metabolic diseases but also for greater resilience against infectious diseases and insulin resistance, ”says Satchidananda Panda, professor at the Biology Laboratory and holder of the Rita and Richard Atkinson Chair in Salk.

Almost two years ago, Panda published a pilot study in the journal Cell Metabolism, in which they observed for the first time the effects of time-restricted eating in 19 people who had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and therefore , had an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. They found that when participants restricted their eating to 10 hours or less over a 12-week period, lost weight and some symptoms of metabolic syndrome improved.

The key to fasting, and what differentiates it from other classic calorie restriction diets, lies in the activation of mechanisms such as “the autofagia, a process that allows eliminating cellular residues that intervene in aging and in certain diseases. In addition, it stimulates the regeneration of tissues ”, explains to ABC Salud Marta Massip, professor in the Nutrition Area and researcher of the FoodLab group of the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), who comments that, although the results in animals must be taken with caution because they are not always correlated in humans, since there are several ongoing clinical studies. “We, for example, have started one in menopausal women to identify aging markers and whether this strategy is capable of influencing them and the typical symptoms of menopause”, points out the researcher.

This type of approach is already being used in some weight loss practices. «With the great development that diet therapy has had in recent years, it is no longer possible to take a low-calorie diet out of a drawer and give all obese patients the same. Fortunately, we have different approaches for the obese person to lower their weight by modifying their intake “, explains to ABC Salud Dr. Francisco Tinahones, endocrinologist and president of the Spanish Society of Obesity (Seedo).

It is intended that the patient have a high adherence to diet And for that, the strategy that is easier to follow without putting your health at risk is sought. «You have to individualize. There are patients who say: “I cannot tolerate skipping a meal” and in these it is difficult to apply intermittent fasting, and others who cannot reduce their intake at all meals but can change dinner for tea. Therefore, some people tolerate intermittent fasting poorly and others do wonderfully“Says Dr. Tinahones, who will soon present the results of a study carried out at the Virgen de la Victoria hospital in Malaga where they compare the results of three fasting strategies in 300 overweight patients.

Fasting should never exceed 48 hours. “There is no evidence that fasting periods of more than two days are safe or have advantages over those of 16 hours or alternate days,” he clarifies. In addition, the strategy must be personalized so as not to compromise the patient’s health. «Can’t go on without a medical professional, especially when there is already a previous pathology ”, warns Dr. Tinahones.

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