The time has come: the 40 days of Lent before Easter starts March 2nd . But is the originally religious fasting still an issue today? Yes, more than ever! Because fasting or Intermittent fasting is completely in trend . More and more studies are proving the incredible health benefits through the meal break. But what happens in the body and what is it like? Intestinal flora involved in it? And it works without giving up ? We clarify the many question marks in 10 points and show you Tips for easy implementation!
1. What does fasting mean?
Fasting has many definitions . On the one hand, religious fasting can be referred to in Christianity, Islam or Judaism, and on the other hand, fasting cures or Intermittent fasting . In the latter case, the day typically consists of one Eating window of eight hours and a fasting period of 12 – 16 hours . So that could mean breakfast at 7:00 a.m., lunch at 1:00 p.m. and dinner at 5:00 p.m. Another option is to have an absolute fasting day once a week , where you only drink water and tea. (1)
2. The Evolution of Fasting
The practice of fasting goes deeper than the traditions of various religions. In fact, its roots lie in the Stone Age and connect us with the animal world. Because our ancestors originally had to search for food strenuously and engage in intensive hunts to feed ourselves. The effort involved required a lot of time and energy, so subsequent breaks were necessary. Many animals in the wild still live this way today and have long fasting intervals between their foraging. Our bodies are designed for longer breaks from eating and even need them (2).
3. Mysterious cell aging
Long ignored by science, the benefits of fasting are only now coming to light. Avoiding food has particularly exciting effects on our cells. Harmful substances that arise during normal metabolism must be disposed of regularly. However , the relevant cleaning and recycling processes only take place in the cells when no new food is supplied. For “detoxification” Old energy reserves have to be reduced - this is the only way to properly clean the cell (2).
4. The consequences of constant eating
If pollutants are not sorted out regularly, our cells age faster and become susceptible to illness. Numerous studies have found that longer meal breaks increase the risk of Cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even obesity reduce significantly. But also people with rheumatoid arthritis (Inflammation of the joints) benefit from fasting as it can reduce the symptoms. You see, fasting is incredibly important for the body and helps you stay healthy and fit (2).
5. How does fasting affect the gut microbiome?
The exciting effects of abstinence go even further: fasting also influences the composition of your intestinal flora . Eating less frequently can cause some bacteria to multiply more than others. These bacteria produce certain substances such as acetic and lactic acid. Both substances are absorbed into the blood and stimulate fat breakdown . This means that when you fast, you not only lose weight by eating less, but your metabolism is boosted by the intestinal flora and excess fat is broken down (3).
6. Magic drug spermidine
So fasting is healthy. But it’s not fun – there isn’t any Way past it ? Perhaps. A research team from Graz recently made an exciting discovery: a substance called spermidine can stimulate the cleaning and recycling of the cell in the same way! Fasting without fasting - almost, because the most effective thing is still the break from eating. Nevertheless , positive effects have already been achieved with the help of spermidine in animal experiments on multiple sclerosis and dementia (4). Incredible, is not it?
7. Which foods contain spermidine?
Where do you get these from? Magic ingredient so? Have a particularly high spermidine content Wheat germ, legumes such as soybeans and Whole grain products . The latter also pleases your intestinal bacteria – here find out why. But also Mushrooms, mangoes and above all well matured cheddar cheese perform well. And what does it have to do with it? sperm on yourself? In fact, the namesake also has a high concentration, but its effect has not yet been tested (5).
8. It's all about the rhythm
Do you want to try fasting but don't know how to get through it ? No problem. Don't take on too much, just take it slowly. Your body and feeling of hunger have to get used to the change . For a week, try extending the interval between your last meal and breakfast to twelve hours . The next week try 13 hours and continue until you do 16 hours. Plus, you can have a cheat day or the weekend free!
9. Eat smart
Of course , proper nutrition also plays a big role. Sweet sugar bombs first thing in the morning won't keep you full. Start the day with a balanced breakfast , such as our delicious millet muesli! Make sure to include whole grain products in your diet - this ensures long-lasting energy . You should also include enough proteins and healthy fats in your menu plan.
10. A trick for feeling hungry: coffee
Now you need a little trick when hunger hits you. We also have this ready: black coffee . It makes every feeling of hunger disappear ! So if your stomach growls in the morning, an espresso will solve the problem. And don't worry, four cups of coffee a day are definitely allowed (6). But always pay attention to how you tolerate caffeine.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical information or instructions. The recipes are intended for inspiration and are not intended as therapeutic measures. If you have any health problems, we recommend that you contact a doctor or other expert immediately.
(Peterson CM. Intermittent Fasting Induces Weight Loss, but the Effects on Cardiometabolic Health are Modulated by Energy Balance. Obesity (Silver Spring), 2019;27(1):11.
Longo VD, Panda S. Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan. Cell Metab. 2016;23(6):1048-1059.
Haas JT, Staels B. Fasting the Microbiota to Improve Metabolism?. Cell Metab. 2017;26(4):584-585.
Madeo F, Eisenberg T, Pietrocola F, Kroemer G. Spermidine in health and disease. Science, 2018;359(6374).
Mohamed Atiya Ali, Eric Poortvliet, Roger Strömberg, Agneta Yngve: Polyamines in foods: development of a food database. In: Food & Nutrition Research. Band 55, Nr. 1.
EFSA (2015) Scientific Opinion on the Safety of Caffeine, EFSA Journal, 13(5):4102.