Eat, Fast and Live Longer

When you see a 101-year-old man, who only started long distance running in his 80s, cross the finish line of a marathon you wonder, is it merely genetic? Or is there something else in his regimen that has kept him surgery free, medication free with no signs of heart disease and active for 20 years longer than most people live? His answer: “It’s because of what I eat: fresh foods, small portions.” So we may not all be running marathons at 101 years old and we may not be able to change our own genetic make-up. But we can change the way we eat; not just what, but how and when. It's what Marcus likes to call "eating with a spiritual compass".

IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor 1) is a growth hormone found in mother’s milk and is meant to help the mental and physical growth of a child. The hormone also comes from a diet of high protein, and is even taken in supplement form by athletes to bulk up. However, as we grow older, studies show that IGF-1 can actually do more harm than good. In the BBC video below, Michael Mosley, British journalist and physician, a bit overweight with high cholesterol and on his way to becoming diabetic decides to seek out experts of how to reverse these conditions without medication. What he finds out through his travels  across America is that the high levels of IGF-1 found in his body could be the reason for his high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high body fat content and greatly increase his chances of developing diabetes or cancer.

You can find delicious dishes that are low-calorie and full of filling nutrition at the bottom of this article!

Another piece of evidence is found through a study done on a population in Ecuador that has a high percentage of people with Laron syndrome: an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by an insensitivity to growth hormone (GH), caused by a variant of the growth hormone receptor. It causes short stature and a resistance to diabetes and cancer. This resistance is because the body slows production of new cells and instead starts fixing old cells. What has been suggested by the professionals Mosely sought out is to try and mimic this deficiency by decreasing the amounts of IGF-1 in our bodies so that these life-threatening diseases are less likely to occur. A few ways of doing so have been suggested: the CRON (Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition) diet, extreme fasting, and intermittent fasting. The last of which Dr. Mosley found most agreeable and just as effective.

ramen, fasting, healthy, vegetables

Intermittent fasting or I.F. is the alternating of days fasting and non-fasting. Fasting days can be every other day or like Dr. Mosley, 2 days fasting (not consecutive) and 5 days unrestricted. During the fast days tests have shown that 400-500 calories can be consumed by women and 500-600 by men. What these fasting days do is slow down the production of IGF-1 and existing fat cells are used to fuel the body instead. Some studies have also shown that I.F could have positive effects on mental health as well as it stresses the brain's grey matter like exercise stresses the muscles. Dr. Mosley’s results after only 5 weeks of his new eating regimen cut his bad cholesterol, blood sugar and IGF-1 in half. He lost his extra weight and decreased his body fat by almost 10%, and even increased his good cholesterol. Of course every case is different, especially children and pregnant women, so any lifestyle change is best first to check with your physician. 

As hard as it may seem to change to this way of eating, especially living in a city like New York, you’ll be amazed by how you feel both physically and mentally. Once your body adjusts and you find the best way to make fasting days most fulfilling, you’ll come to find we more often than not mistake appetite for hunger. We eat not because we feel famished or hungry, but because of our emotional connection to the action. All you need is 2 days out of 7 to cut back on the calories and add on to your life.

Need some ideas for the fasting days? Here are some delicious dishes that are low-calorie and full of filling nutrition!