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    • 01 SEP 14
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    Intermittent fasting – can the 5:2 diet improve your skin?

    Intermittent fasting – can the 5:2 diet improve your skin?

    Continuing our series of articles about diet and how it can impact how well your skin ages, this month’s article takes a look at the benefits of intermittent fasting (IF).

    The recent popularity of the 5:2 diet, which encourages you to fast two days a week, has raised interest in fasting. In addition to weight loss, supporters of the 5:2 diet suggest that this and other intermittent fasting approaches can help you look younger, live longer and even protect against diseases like dementia.

    Autophagy is a cellular process that basically cleans up problematic material within your cells and is stimulated during periods of fasting. This is because when breaking down this problematic material the autophagy process reduces the cellular “junk” into it’s constitute parts. These include fatty acids, amino acids and sugars; just the resources the body requires when it cannot acquire them through eating. Fasting therefore forces the body to search for these resources within your cells when they are not readily available thus performing this cellular cleansing process at a faster rate than normal.

    Studies have suggested that promoting autophagy can increase longevity, but the health benefits also apply to your skin. Studies have demonstrated that one of the key mechanisms in ageing, not only your skin, but in all anatomical systems is the inadequate clearance of material that results from oxidative stress. Periods of fasting not only clear this material but have also been shown to reduce oxidative stress by increasing insulin sensitivity.

    Fasting has also been shown to increase your body’s production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Studies have shown that HGH has skin rejuvenation properties.

    Recent studies emphatically demonstrate the health benefits of intermittent fasting and how it can impede your skin’s aging process. There are many ways to fast and it is not yet proven which offer the greatest benefits. The beneficial effects are however well understood so incorporating this into your lifestyle will undoubtedly improve not only the look of your skin but your overall general well being. The key to incorporating IF into your day-to-day routine is to choose a diet and diet plans that are not too difficult to do.

    Limiting your calorific intake in a 24 hour period (500 for women and 600 for men) is one method that has been made popular through the 5:2 diet and many people have found they are able to stick to this on an ongoing basis. There are other methods like a complete zero calorie intake over 14 (women) or 16 (men) consecutive hours. This is followed by a feeding period for the remaining 6 to 8 hours. Another variation on this approach is to fast for 20 hours and then eat one large meal every night. There are other approaches and it is probably better to try a few out and decide which one works best for you and your life style.

    This series of articles on diet has attempted to demonstrate that what you eat has a direct impact on the look and health of your skin. This is not cosmetic, as your skin looks better when you improve your diet because you will be healthier. The current Western diet of starchy, grain based and sugary foods will not do you or your skin any favours, nor will the low fat mantra that we have been sold for the past 30 years or so. We do however need to recognise that much of the western diet does appeal to our basic tastes and that it is difficult to avoid completely. It is simply a matter of balance and an approach that I find useful is to apply the 80% rule. This rule means that I try to eat good food at least 80% of the time.

    Good food means a diet high in protein, good oils and fats and plenty of vegetables. This type of diet and a reduction in your calorie intake from time to time will reduce glycation, oxidative stress, inflammation and telemere shortening. It will also encourage the more youthful promoting processes like autophagy and HRH production. As a result your skin will not only look and feel more youthful and healthy, you will be healthier as a result.

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