One of the latest diet fads is intermittent fasting, or the 5:2 diet. On the 5:2 diet, you eat normally five days out of the week and fast on two non-consecutive days. Most people don’t completely fast but instead consume a very small amount of calories, around 500, on their fast days.
A Natural Way of Eating
The idea behind the intermittent fasting diet is that it’s a more natural way of eating than the traditional three meals a day way of eating. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors probably only ate one meal on most days, and often went without when the hunt failed and there were no ripe berries or fresh vegetables to be found.
Although the intermittent diet is most commonly used to lose weight- for which it has been proven to quite effective– a number of studies are beginning to demonstrate it has health benefits above and beyond simple weight control. It seems to be particularly beneficial for improving insulin resistance and type II diabetes. The theory is that taking a break from the constant production of insulin in response to eating allows the body to recover and reset its ability to respond to insulin.
Fasting and Cancer
Some researchers are beginning to find interesting links between cancer and intermittent fasting. Mouse models of prostate cancer report that the cancer cells grow more slowly when the mice are subjected to intermittent fasting. Observational studies of women who engage in frequent periodic caloric restriction in an effort to lose weight find that their risk of developing renal cell carcinoma, endometrial cancer and lymphoma drops relative to individuals who do not periodically diet. Some limited data suggests that intermittent fasting can be protective against developing breast cancer.
A Feasible Way to Restrict Calories
Severe calorie restriction has long been known to reduce the growth of cancer and increase lifespan. However, most people are incapable of restricting their calorie intake to the necessary level every single day of their lives. Persons who have tried intermittent fasting report it is not that difficult to comply with. After you get used to the feeling of hunger on fast days, you just learn to ignore it. Most intermittent fasters report feeling especially energetic and focused on their fast days. The theory there is that being hungry prepares the body for action- time to go out and really focus on finding something to eat.
Intermittent fasting may therefore be a feasible way to restrict calorie intake in free-living humans to such a degree thaT an actual clinical impact on cancer development and growth will occur. However, further study is clearly necessary to prove or disprove this concept. There don’t seem to be any adverse health events caused by intermittent fasting so it might be worth a try, just in case it helps slow down cancer growth.
Are You Ready to Make a Plan and Get Started?
We specialize in coaching you to a fuller, happier, and healthier life. We help cancer victims and their families through this difficult time, guide clients to take charge of their personal health, and coach still others to personal fulfillment. If you or a loved one needs assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us.