Reduces inflammation, improves mood, increases brain adaptability

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Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting. It doesn't specify which foods to eat, but rather when to eat them. Common methods include the 16/8 method, which involves eating within an 8-hour period, and the 5:2 method, which involves consuming only 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week. It has gained popularity not only for weight loss but also for its potential cognitive benefits.

Here are eight amazing brain benefits of intermittent fasting suggested by Dr. Radhika Joshi, Senior Obstetrician, Vinayak Hospital, Hyderabad.

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Improves cognitive function: IF may enhance a variety of cognitive functions, including memory, attention, and executive function. It promotes the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports neuron growth and survival, synaptic plasticity, and cognitive function.

Increases neuroplasticity: Intermittent fasting may enhance neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to adapt and reorganize itself. This is important for learning and memory. BDNF also plays a role in neuroplasticity, helping the brain form new neural connections.

Reduces inflammation: Chronic inflammation has been linked to several brain disorders, including Alzheimer's disease and depression. IF helps reduce systemic inflammation, which may protect the brain from damage caused by inflammation.

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Enhances brain detoxification: Fasting triggers autophagy, which is a cellular cleansing process in which the body removes damaged cells and toxins. This detoxification process is beneficial for brain health as it helps remove damaged neurons and misfolded proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases.

Protection from neurodegenerative diseases: IF may reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Increases in BDNF and reductions in oxidative stress and inflammation contribute to the protective effects.

Improves mood and reduces depression: IF may improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. The release of endorphins during fasting may have mood-enhancing effects, and regulation of insulin levels and reduction of inflammation also play a role in stabilizing mood.

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Increases mental clarity and concentration: Many people report increased mental clarity and concentration during fasting. Decreased blood sugar levels and an increase in ketones (an alternative energy source for the brain) may contribute to this effect.

stress resistance: Intermittent fasting may increase the brain's resistance to stress. The mild stress of fasting produces beneficial adaptive responses in the brain, just as exercise increases physical resilience. This wind-down effect may help the brain cope with stress better and reduce the risk of stress-related cognitive decline.

These brain benefits, combined with other health benefits, make intermittent fasting an attractive approach to overall health. However, it is important to consult a doctor before starting any fasting diet, especially for individuals who already have health issues.

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