FASTING SERIES: What You Need to Know


Understanding the Basics to Glimpse Metabolism during Fasting and Starvation

Fasting is most commonly associated with religious observation. It is the fourth of the Five Pillars of Islam. Each day, a human’s three primary meals are breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which are interspersed by interprandial fasting periods of approximately five hours each. The longest fasting period corresponds to nocturnal fasting (roughly eight hours). Sleep effectively imposes an extended period of fasting during which energy metabolism differs between sleep stages and begins to increase prior to awakening.

Metabolism encompasses all of the biochemical processes used by organisms to synthesize structural and functional constituents and to obtain energy. It is typically divided into anabolism, which includes the biosynthesis of macromolecules such as glycogen, proteins, and lipids (e.g., triacylglycerol-TAG) and catabolism, which includes the degradation of macromolecules into their simplest precursors: glucose, amino acids, glycerol, and fatty acids. The free energy released by catabolic degradation—via adenosine triphosphate and nicotinamide adenine diphosphate—is used to drive the endergonic processes of anabolic biosynthesis.

The human diet is a complex mixture of interacting components that cumulatively affect health. The metabolizable energy of macronutrients (i.e., carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids) is responsible for the bulk of the energy in the human diet. Micronutrients (i.e., minerals and vitamins) play a central role in metabolism and in the maintenance of tissue function. It should be emphasized that glucose and Free Fatty Acids (FFAs) are the most important energy substrates. Moreover, the existence of metabolic cycles such as glucose-lactate (the Cori cycle), glucose-fatty acid (the Randle cycle), and glucose-alanine (the Cahill cycle) reinforces this idea.

of What Benefit?


The idea that fasting might be good for your health has a long, if questionable, history. Back in 1908, “Dr” Linda Hazzard, an American with some training as a nurse, published a book called Fasting for the Cure of Disease, which claimed that minimal food was the route to recovery from a variety of illnesses including cancer. Hazzard was jailed after one of her patients died of starvation. But what if she was, at least partly, right?

A new surge of interest in fasting suggests that it might indeed help people with cancer. It could also reduce the risk of developing cancer, guard against diabetes and heart disease, help control some other pathologies.

So:ignore the call of multiple afternoon snacks, because the pay offs of doing without could be enormous.

It is also found to boost brain powers by giving the neurons more energy. experiments in mice may have explained why. In these animals, fasting has been found to cause changes in the brain that likely give neurons more energy, and enable them to grow more connections, which is essential to memory and learning.


It is possible to glimpse the new boundaries to which the metabolism of starvation has been placed. Critical illness represents a multifarious cellular insult with damage induced by hypoxia, hypoperfusion, and inflammation, and the removal of cell damage by autophagy is essential for recovery. Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved process that degrades cellular components to restore energy homeostasis under limited nutrient conditions such as starvation. Thus, starvation promotes autophagy. On the contrary, suppressive effects by nutrients early during critical illness could compromise such damage removal systems. How this starvation induced autophagy is regulated at the whole-body level is not entirely understood yet. However, anabolic hormones (e.g., insulin and IGF-1) and catabolic hormones (e.g., glucagon and Cathecolamines) are significant regulators of autophagy.

So: For a healthier body and mind, forget food fads and try the age-old practice of going without.

For more benefits, Click on B

Reference: Andrade Jr, J Nutr Diet 2017, 1:1

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