Intermittent fasting has become a popular strategy and way for people to lose weight. It is also said to have many health benefits. But, what does fasting do to your brain and your mental state? Let's take a look at what fasting really does for your mental state and the effects it can have on your body.
These are some of the top questions that we are asked about fasting, your brain, and your health. If you are looking for more information, please contact your healthcare provider.
What Is Fasting?
Fasting is when you voluntarily abstain from food and drink for a specific period of time. Fasting periods can range from 12 hours to three weeks. The most common lasting from 12-20 hours, alternating with a daily four to twelve-hour eating window. Fasting and starvation should not be confused. Starvation is a state of nutritional insufficiency and can lead to organ failure and death.
Does Fasting Improve Cognitive Function?
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can cause positive neurochemical changes to occur in your brain. This can lead to an improvement of cognitive function and resistance to stressful stimuli. So yes, fasting can improve, and in some cases, your brain even performs better during fasting. Your cognitive function, learning, and memory can all be increased while doing so.
Can Intermittent Fasting Improve Brain Function?
Now you may be wondering if intermittent fasting can improve your brain function, and the answer is yes! Intermittent fasting is a new trend, but fasting, in general, is not a new concept. Going without food for 12-24 hours (which can also include the time you are sleeping) can increase your brain's natural growth factors.
This supports the survival and growth of your brain's neurons, which allow information to be transmitted between the brain and your body. So when your neurons are healthy and operating at total capacity, information is shared faster and more precisely. This means you are more alert, more focused, and able to store information easily.
What Are the Mental Benefits of Fasting?
When you intermittent fast, your body has fewer toxic materials in your bloodstream and lymphatic system. This makes it easier for you to think. While you are fasting, the energy you would usually use to digest your food is available to be used by your brain.
Rather neat! You probably will not notice a mental change in the first few days of fasting because your body needs time to adjust. You could also experience headaches, but your brain has access to a cleaner bloodstream after your body is cleared of all the toxins. A cleaner bloodstream can mean clearer thoughts, better memory, and heightened senses, as we mentioned above.
Does Fasting Help With Mental Clarity?
If you struggle with mental clarity and brain fog, a great way to boost your mind could be intermittent fasting. Remember, this means not taking in calories for 12 to 24 hours. Fasting is an excellent exercise for your brain and can improve your mental clarity.
Is Intermittent Fasting Good for Depression?
Research has found that you could have improved moods after intermittent fasting, decreased tension, anger, and confusion. Another study suggests that fasting helps significantly with emotional well-being and depression. So yes, intermittent fasting can help you if you are trying to beat depression.
Some individuals who suffer from depression take antidepressants, but studies have found that calorie restriction, such as fasting, can affect these individuals. If you are thinking about fasting instead of taking your prescribed medications, you should first discuss it with your healthcare provider.
Does Fasting Increase Mental Focus?
Fasting can increase your mental focus and clarify your mind. Research has shown that fasting can help clear your mind and awaken your sense while also boosting your brain function. This gives you more mental focus and clearer thoughts.
Does Water Fasting Help Anxiety?
Fasting, including water fasting, has been found to reduce anxiety symptoms for 80% of patients. This could be due to your attention and focus getting clearer. Your ability to carry out tasks will get stronger, and your body is healing naturally. You can flush toxins from your system and improve your overall health.
Doctors warn against fasting if you:
- have diabetes
- have kidney disease
- are recovering from surgery or illness
- are breastfeeding
- are underweight
Some tips to help you with fasting include:
- Keep fasting periods short
- Eat a small amount on fast days
- Stay hydrated
- Go for a walk or meditate
- Don't break a fast with a feast
- Stop your fast if you feel sick
- Eat enough protein
Following these simple tips should help you with your fasting periods.
When you are fasting, it is important to realize what your body is doing and what foods and supplements you should take while fasting and after. While fasting can significantly improve your mental clarity and help with depression and anxiety, it should be done carefully, the right way, and with the help of a healthcare provider.
Supplements May Help
Fasting does not last forever, and between fasts, you should add food back into your routine. It is essential to do this carefully as some foods are better for you than others. Some foods, beverages, and even supplements can break your fast, while others will not have much impact.
Depending on how restrictive your fast is and how long you are fasting, you could become deficient in nutrients. Some people chose to take supplements while fasting to ensure adequate nutrition and mineral intake. Fasting too frequently can also lead to nutrition deficiencies.
Supplementing while fasting is a good idea, but it is important to realize some can break your fast.
Supplements that can damage your fast include:
- Gummy multivitamins
- Branched-chain amino acids
- Protein powder
Supplements less likely to break a fast include:
- Fish oil
- Pure collagen
Another great supplement to take while fasting is one like spermidine. This supplement helps with cell renewal in your body. It gives your cells the chance to rejuvenate and regenerate. This allows your cells to remain healthy and operate efficiently.