Intermittent Fasting From Ancient to Modern Times

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by Dr. Valerie Donaldson via Regenerative Medicine Center

Intermittent Fasting:  An Ancient and Modern Way of Life to Enhance Health

Humans have shifted from hunter-gatherer with food scarcity and forced intermittent fasting, to multiple meals and snacking on nutrient less food all day long.   The body’s mechanism to cope with prolonged periods of fasting, was to store fat in body tissue instead of storing carbohydrates and proteins.  Interestingly, body responses prevalent during the hunter-gatherer time period have been preserved throughout time and are still present within us today.

Over the past several years, intermittent fasting (IF) has gained a revived interest and is now one of the world’s most popular health and wellness trends. IF is an eating style, adjusting the timing of when you eat. When you eat may be just as important as what you eat. Research has shown IF is a powerful tool not only for weight loss but for a multitude of other beneficial health effects.

“Studies in animals and humans have shown many health benefits from intermittent fasting that are not simply the result of reduced free-radical production or weight loss. Instead, intermittent fasting elicits evolutionarily conserved, adaptive cellular responses integrated between and within organs in a manner that improves glucose regulation, increases stress resistance, and suppresses inflammation.”1

What is Intermittent Fasting?

IF is fasting for a variable amount of time and then eating all your daily calories in a strategic window.  There are various styles of IF such as alternate day fasting, one meal a day, 20:4, 16:8.

For example, for a 16:8 fast, you eat all of your daily calories within an 8-hour window and fast for the other 16 hours. If you consumed your first meal at 10 AM, you stop eating by 6 PM. This gives your body time to rest and reset. In the absence of calories during your fast, your body then has a chance to rid toxins from the system and stabilize your blood sugar.

You do not need to decrease or restrict calories; the only restriction is the eating time window but because of this, your caloric intake may reduce naturally.

Benefits from Intermittent Fasting

  • Weight loss and/or fat loss
  • Increased energy and mental clarity
  • Protection against neurodegenerative diseases
  • Blood sugar control
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Improved detox
  • Increased longevity
  • Reduced systemic inflammation
  • Hormone improvements

Research on Intermittent Fasting

A review of 11 meta-analyses of IF randomized controlled trials “found significant beneficial outcomes associated with IF on BMI, body weight, fat mass, LDL-C, total cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting plasma glucose, fasting insulin, HOMA-IR (insulin resistance), and systolic and diastolic blood pressure, mostly in adults with overweight or obesity.”2 Mounting research shows many benefits of IF:

  • A review of 27 IF trials found weight loss in every trial3
  • May lower the desire to eat in the evening leading to weight loss4
  • Decreases systemic inflammation and prevents metabolic syndrome, two main drivers of disease and aging5
  • Decreases fasting insulin, reduces insulin resistance, and lowers blood sugar6,7
  • Reduces risk factors for heart disease and stroke by increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing blood pressure 8
  • Enhances autophagy of neurons in the brain, meaning the toxins in your cells is cleaned out which may improve brain function and prevent neurodegenerative diseases9
  • Improves cognitive function and brain structure10
  • Increases BDNF (brain derived neurotropic factor), a protein that plays a crucial role protecting and generating new nerve cells, and improving memory and learning11
  • Reduces total triglyceride levels and inflammatory gene expression12
  • May increase lifespan and the reduce chronic disease13
  • Decreases inflammatory markers CRP, homocysteine and TC/HDL14
  • Increases human growth hormone stimulation in sleep15 and during the day after 2 or 5-day fasting16
  • Decreases the hormone ghrelin that signals you that you are hungry and may increase the hormone leptin, which is responsible for signaling your brain that you are full17,18

Great News!  Enhancing the Effects of Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss with Semaglutide

Semaglutide, is a peptide naturally secreted by the gut that just received FDA approval for weight loss last year. This specific peptide plays a role in the regulation of insulin and glucagon which balances your blood sugars, which is why it is used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

This peptide can stimulate the feeling like you are full for longer by slowing down gastric emptying. It aids in the secretion of insulin and decreases the output of glucagon which stimulates the liver to produce glucose. This means the reduction in glucagon also reduces blood sugar.  By this mechanism or by possibly acting on centers in the brain that regulate cravings and hunger, people’s cravings and hunger go down markedly.

Four Phase 3 trials showed the weight loss benefits of Semaglutide.

  • Trial 1: 14.9% weight reduction with semaglutide vs 2.4% with placebo in overweight or obese individuals19
  • Trial 2: 9.6% weight reduction with semaglutide vs 3.4% with placebo in overweight or obese individuals with type 2 diabetes20
  • Trial 3: 16% weight reduction with semaglutide and lifestyle modification vs 5.7% weight reduction with lifestyle intervention only21
  • Trial 4: Semaglutide group experienced continued weight loss vs placebo22

The average weight loss for semaglutide can be as high as 20% and is on average 15%. The addition of semaglutide enhanced the weight loss effects of lifestyle modification. The addition of this peptide with IF may offer even greater weight loss and profound health benefits. This is great news for those overweight, obese, or those with type 2 diabetes.


From the volumes of research done, Intermittent Fasting is not just another diet fad.  Intermittent Fasting is here to stay.

It is a powerful tool with many profound health benefits:   balancing blood sugars, promoting weight loss, longevity, insulin sensitivity, decreasing inflammation, improving mental clarity, preventing neurodegenerative disease, heart disease and stroke.

Have an awesome day!  Dr D


Reprinted with permission from Regenerative Medicine Center.