What are the benefits of fasting?

Diet fasting

In the last few years, fasting has been gaining popularity across the world as a way of improving human health. Did you know that fasting has been around for centuries and centuries? Humans have been doing it since time began and animals do it too. So let’s see what all the fuss is about…

What is fasting?

Fasting is a total or partial abstinence from food. In simple terms this means that for a period of time a person will not eat any, or certain types, of food and drink. It is carried out across the world for many different reasons including as part of religious ceremonies or rituals, as well as for health reasons.

Types:

There are many different types of fasting. We’ve broken down a few of the more popular ones below:

  1. Water fasting — definitely one for the purists. This type of fast involves drinking nothing but water for a set period of time with the aim of purifying the body and allowing our much-overused digestive systems a well-deserved break. This is apparently one of the hardest types of fasts to carry out.
  2. Juice fasting — this type of fast involves only drinking fruit or vegetable juices for a set period of time. Somewhat easier than the water fast due to all of the juicy goodness you are getting from the fruits and vegetables.
  3. Intermittent fasting — this appears to be the craze at the moment! This type involves not eating at certain times or days in the week and having an unrestricted diet for the remainder of the time. There are a few different types. These include:
    1. Alternate day — eating every other day
    2. 5:2 — eating a normal diet for 5 days of the week and having a drastically reduced caloric intake on the remaining two days (the two days are not allowed to be consecutive days)
    3. Time-restricted — eating only within a set time period, i.e. between 7am — 3pm with nothing but water outside of these times.

It is with intermittent fasting where most of the scientific research has been carried out and health benefits have been widely documented.

Benefits:

So, the big question is… Why fast? Below are some of the documented health benefits science has detected to date:

  1. Weight loss: It’s a great way of limiting calorie intake without having to be excessive. Fasting helps in the production of certain hormones which help to boost your metabolism. It has been seen to help reduce body fat whilst preserving muscle tissue.
  2. Reduces chronic inflammation: Studies have shown people who fast intermittently have reduced levels of inflammatory markers in the blood after one month. This could be great for a whole host of inflammatory conditions out there including rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
  3. Improves heart health: Current research shows benefits on the cardiovascular system including lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  4. Increases levels of Growth Hormone (GH: People who fast intermittently have been shown to have increased levels of GH after their fasting period. This hormone is important in growth, muscle strength, metabolism and aiding weight loss.
  5. Controls blood sugar: Promising for our type 2 diabetics out there, although larger studies are needed for this area of research as evidence is a bit mixed at the moment.   Watch this space!

There are also a whole host of other benefits starting to emerge from animal studies which could be bright for our human future when more research is carried out. These areas include benefits seen in brain function, delayed aging and prevention of cancer. This is exciting stuff!

We hope this has been a helpful insight. If you are considering doing a fast yourself or would like more information, please get in touch with us on 4655 5588 and we’ll be able to point you in the right direction. It is always safest to consult a medical professional before attempting any type of fast yourself as there are certain conditions with which fasting is not allowed. Here’s to a healthier life 🙂

References

  1. Dictionary.com. 2020. Fast. [Online]. Available from: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/fasting. [Accessed 08 Jan 2020] 
  2. Healthline. 2018. 8 health benefits of fasting, backed by science. [Online]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fasting-benefits. [Accessed 06 Jan 2020]
  3. Harvard Health Publishing. 2018. Intermittent fasting: suprising update. [Online]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156. [Accessed 06 Jan 2020]
  4. American Osteopathic Association. 2019. Intermittent fasting: can we fast our way to better health? [Online]. Available from: https://thedo.osteopathic.org/2019/01/intermittent-fasting-can-we-fast-our-way-to-better-health/. [Accessed 06 Jan 2020]
  5. British Institute of Osteopathy. 2020. What are the effects of fasting? [Online]. Available from: http://www.british-institute-of-osteopathy.org/articles/fasting.aspx. [Accessed 06 Jan 2020]

Five tips for digestive health

Irritable bowel poor gut health

June is bowel cancer awareness month, so we’re here to give you tips on how to keep improve your digestive health and reduce the risk of disease.

Whether you are a professional soccer player, a tradie or an office worker, a healthy digestive system is key to you being able to function and carry out your daily tasks. Our bodies break down the food we eat into energy and this is what allows us to kick a ball, drill a hole, or sit and type on the computer. Now, your digestive system will only work properly if you feed it the right stuff… So don’t expect to last the 90 minutes and be at the top of your game if all you do is gorge on deep fried or fast food. That’s just a fast track to the subs bench and unhappy insides!

Try out these little gems of advice to ensure your digestive system stays healthy, so you can give 100% every single day:

1. DRINK LOTS OF WATER: We’ll make this one nice and simple… Your body needs water for almost everything! From maintaining the health of every cell in your body, to keeping your blood fluid – you can see it’s pivotal for life to exist. Water is also needed for creating your digestive juices used to break down food and preventing digestive complaints like constipation.

2. EAT A HIGH FIBRE DIET: Fibre is basically all the parts of plant-based foods that we are unable to breakdown and digest. There are different types. ‘Soluble’ fibre (found in fruits, vegetables & legumes) helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer and helps to control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol. ‘Insoluble’ fibre (found in the skin of fruits and vegetables, wholegrain breads/cereals, and nuts and seeds) absorbs water helping to bulk out and soften our stools and aids in the regulation of bowel movements. Having a good mix is important to prevent diseases such as constipation, bowel cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

high fibre diet

3. EAT A PROBIOTIC: Probiotics are the bacteria found living in our gut. They are responsible for providing the ideal environment for getting the most nutrients out of the food we eat. They also protect us from the effects of nasty bacteria that may show their faces at different points. Without them, we wouldn’t exist. Sometimes our stores of bacteria can be put under threat, like when we are ill, stressed for long periods, or after a course of antibiotics. Having a poor diet can also be bad for them. Luckily, we can eat foods like probiotic or ‘live’ yoghurt and kefir daily to help keep our gut well-populated with these little soldiers.

4. GET PLENTY OF EXERCISE: The benefits of exercise are endless! When you move, it helps to promote movement of food through your gut, which keeps everything functioning well and helps to reduce the risk of digestive problems like constipation. So, move every day because your gut doesn’t tend to go on holiday for days here and there. It is always working hard for you!

5. LIMIT INTAKE OF ALCOHOL AND SMOKING: Too much of anything is a bad thing, but the effects of too much booze and cigarettes on the digestive system are well documented. Heavy, long term intake may lead to conditions such as reflux, digestive ulcers, and possibly more severe disease such as oesophageal, stomach and bowel cancer.

Remember, you really are what you eat. Gut health is so important for you to do the things you want to do – work, playing with the kids, sports, everything! So don’t be surprised if your practitioner throws in some questions regarding digestive health when they’re treating you. It’s much more than just muscles and bones. We will delve deep if we need to, to make sure you are at the top of your game. Contact us now for an appointment on 4655 5588.

References

  1. State Government of Victoria. 2014. Water – a vital nutrient. [Online]. [Accessed 03 May 2019]. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/water-a-vital-nutrient
  2. Nutrition Australia. 2014. Fibre. [Online]. [Accessed 03 May 2019]. Available from: http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/fibre
  3. Webster-Gandy, J., Madden, A., Holdsworth, M. eds. 2012. Oxford Handbook of Nutrition and Dietetics. Oxford: Oxford University Press
  4. Enders, G. 2015. Gut – the inside story of our body’s most under-rated organ. Melbourne: Scribe Publications
  5. Drinkaware. 2019. Is alcohol harming your stomach. [Online]. [Accessed 04 May 2019]. Available from: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/effects-on-the-body/is-alcohol-harming-your-stomach/
  6. State Government of Victoria. 2019. Smoking – effects on your body. [Online]. [Accessed 04 May 2019]. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/smoking-effects-on-your-body

Living well with diabetes – It affects more of us than you think.

Living well with diabetes – It affects more of us than you think.

Are you living with Diabetes? It can be very overwhelming managing this condition, particularly in the early stages following diagnosis. We’ve put together a little fact sheet and given some tips on things you can do to manage your condition and live well with Diabetes.

WHAT IS DIABETES?

In a nutshell, Diabetes (or correctly named – Diabetes Mellitus or DM) is a condition characterised by increased levels of sugar in the blood, resulting from the body’s inability to either produce or correctly make use of a hormone called Insulin. Insulin helps move sugar (called ‘glucose’) in the blood into the cells around the body so we have energy to function. There are a few different types of DM:

  1. Type 1: The body does not produce enough insulin due to cell damage of the pancreas – the organ in the body that produces insulin.
  2. Type 2: The body is unable to sufficiently use and respond to the insulin produced by the pancreas.
  3. Gestational Diabetes: This form affects pregnant women who have no prior diagnosis of DM. This condition usually resolves after delivery of the baby.

Each form is treated slightly differently. Type 1 requires the person to take insulin, usually via self-injection. Type 2 can predominantly be managed through diet and exercise, but may require medication and possibly insulin, depending on how advanced the condition is. Type 2 is the most common form of the condition and what we’re going to focus on.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?

The most common cause of Type 2 DM is a combination of excess body weight and lack of exercise. So it is fitting that one of the best ways to control your blood sugar levels, and reduce the risk of complications (such as heart, kidney, eye and nerve disease) further down the line, is to reduce body weight and exercise regularly.

DIET

Dietary recommendations for people with DM are not too dissimilar to those for any other person. The following tips can be helpful to follow:

  • Eat regular meals and consume healthy snacks spread across the day
  • Eat high fibre, complex carbohydrate foods such as whole grain breads, cereals and pastas, beans, lentils, fruit and vegetables (i.e. foods that have a low glycemic index and won’t spike your blood sugar levels quickly)
  • Be mindful of the amount of fat you eat, especially saturated fats, found in takeaway food, fried food, cakes and biscuits
  • Keep alcohol intake low as a general rule, and ensure you have plenty of alcohol-free days
  • Keep energy balance in mind. If you consistently consume more energy than you burn off in a day, you will gain weight
Exercise Rigth
Diabetes

EXERCISE

It is recommended that people with Type 2 DM participate in both aerobic and resistance-based exercise regularly and consistently. These forms of exercise have been shown to improve insulin action and overall quality of life. And they help decrease blood pressure, heart complications, fat levels and risk of death.

Please remember that these are basic guidelines, and we always recommended that you seek help from a health professional such as your GP, DM specialist, or your local osteo before making any big decisions on diet and exercise to help manage your Diabetes.

References

  1. Diabetes Victoria – https://www.diabetesvic.org.au/diabetes-and-me?tags=Left-Mega-Nav%2FDiabetes%20and%20nutrition%2F&bdc=1
  2. American Diabetes Association – http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/making-healthy-food-choices/?loc=ff-slabnav
  3. Harvard Health – https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/living-well-with-diabetes

Magnesium: A Necessity for 21st Century Living

Magnesium: A Necessity for 21st Century Living

Chronic Stress Depletes Magnesium

There is no escaping the pressures of modern life! You may be familiar with common stressors experienced by the majority of people, such as financial strain, relationships, pressures at work or school, toxins, diets high in processed foods, and constant Wi-Fi and screen exposure. The main
problem is that these assaults to your system are constant. Extended periods of stress can result in a loss of the important mineral, magnesium, at the time your body needs it most. Ensuring you have good magnesium levels helps make you a warrior during stressful times.

Are You Low in Magnesium?

Fatigue, muscle cramps, headaches and difficulty sleeping are common signs of magnesium deficiency in both adults and children. Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and mood disorders including anxiety, depression, and constant stress are all associated with poor body stores of magnesium. Talk to your Practitioner today about whether you have an increased need for magnesium.

Running on Empty – What Causes Low Magnesium?

There are many different factors that contribute to magnesium deficiency. These include:

  • Inadequate intake from foods.
  • Continual stress. As increased levels of stress hormones diminish precious magnesium stores, this can lead to a vicious cycle of magnesium depletion, making it even harder to cope.
  • Caffeine, alcohol and certain medications. These increase the loss of magnesium through urination

The Many Benefits of Magnesium

Being the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, magnesium plays many roles in supporting your health. It helps dampen the effects of stress hormones to promote calming sleep, as well as relaxing muscles and reducing cramping. Magnesium protects your brain from memory loss, improves mood, concentration and learning, and lowers anxiety helping keep you stay calm during stressful times. However, that’s not all this mighty mineral helps with! Magnesium also improves blood sugar control, which can positively impact weight, reduce sugar cravings and support energy levels.

Magnesium Fuels Your Energy

When you become stressed, it affects you right down to your core, even causing damage at the cellular level by allowing energy molecules to leak from the cell. These energy molecules are needed for every function in the body; without energy your body’s ability to cope with stress is hindered, resulting in fatigue and other symptoms. But thanks to your cells’ instinctive ability to adapt to perceived stressors, the body uses magnesium to boost energy production, supporting good health and increasing your energy levels.

Daily Protection Against Stress

Utilise the following tips to shield your mind and body from stress and conserve your magnesium: Reduce caffeine to a maximum of 1 cup per day. Increase your consumption of magnesium rich foods e.g. spinach, dark chocolate, avocado, almonds, pumpkin seeds and black beans. Minimise your intake of high sugar and processed foods low in nutrients. Get a good night’s sleep. This will assist your body in repairing tissues and reducing inflammation caused by stress. To improve sleep quality, ensure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet; and unplug from electronic devices (e.g. mobile phones, tablets, computer, and TV) 1-2 hours prior to bedtime. Exercise regularly to reduce the negative effects of emotional and physical stressors on health.

Choosing the Right Type of Ammunition

We can help recommend an appropriate magnesium for you if stress is weighing you down. Look out for magnesium bisglycinate in particular. This type of magnesium is superior to many other forms as it is well absorbed, gentle on the digestive tract and provides a calming effect. A necessity for 21st century living, magnesium will improve your resilience to the stressors of modern life. So talk to us today on how you can reduce stress using Magnesium!

Magnesium rich foods
Examples of Magnesium rich foods

Content reproduced with permission from Metagenics, 2019.