08.04.2021 Feature Article

Your Eating Pattern Determines Your Health And Lifespan. Including Should Women Fast?

Your Eating Pattern Determines Your Health And Lifespan. Including Should Women Fast?
08.04.2021 LISTEN

Food provides the nutrients our body needs to sustain our life, to build the cells of the tissues and the organs and refresh and maintain the physique and vigour of healthy life. However, when we eat, how frequent we eat and what we eat determine whether we allow the food to give us health and benefits or give us sicknesses and kill us early.

We require food to live and prolong our life. However, foods are very dangerous, unhealthy and deadly if we only see them as delicious and appetising substances to eat without obeying the rules governing eating them. These essential substances called food which we require for healthy and long life, if we eat carelessly and lawlessly, can cause sicknesses and diseases and cut short our life expectancy. We become sick and die earlier than we are supposed to live if we eat anyhow and at anytime.

There are rules governing eating, which we must observe and obey, else food becomes deadly and life shortener. So do not use food to satisfy appetite or eat it because it is appealing or eat just for the joy of eating. It can lead to unhealthy life and early grave.

There are laws governing eating and they must be observed. The Hebrew and the Christian Bible tells us that from the beginning, God gave laws concerning eating, which Adam and his wife failed to obey and it brought misery and death to them and to their generation till today. You can eat everything, but not all are good to eat. Also when to eat is very crucial to your health and continuous living.

Eating is not for every time of the day, eating has its time. There is time to eat and time not to eat. For example, eating at night when you are supposed to sleep can cut down your lifespan. People who eat at night are often unhealthy, obese, clumsy and may die earlier than those who eat only during daytime and sleep at night. Night shift workers are often obese; the men have fatty belly and the women fatty waists or arms.

Rural or village folks in Asia, Africa and South America often have fewer illnesses and longer span of life than their urban or city fellows. It is not because they have fresh foods to eat or less air pollution, it is mainly their eating pattern. The eating styles of these rural folks cause them to have fewer health conditions, which are common among urban committees, such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, cancer, eating disorders and other metabolic diseases and sicknesses.

The daily routine of rural folks is almost the same. They go to their farms and works early in the morning without breakfast, sometimes as early at 3 a.m. they are on their way to the farms and works and would work till noon before their first meal. They say that if they eat early they would be clumsy and lazy to work. Often, they eat their first meal not earlier than noon. And at home, they eat before 6 p.m. It is a taboo to eat after 6 p.m. in the villages. After eating, they rest for a while and go to bed as early as 8 p.m. to wake up early to repeat the daily routine.

When the rural folks have time during their off days, which is a day or two in the week, they eat in the morning till evening at 6 p.m. But even in their free days, they eat two or three times in the day. This eating lifestyles of the rural folks follow what nutritional experts called 16/8 eating habits. There are also eating styles called Eat-Stop-Eat and 5:2 Diet. It is found that people who follow these habits, which incorporate intermittent fasting (IF), are healthier, less obese and live longer than people who eat anyhow, anytime, late in the night, have breakfast everyday and never give their mouths and stomachs a break, not even a day or few hours.

People who always have something to chew in the mouth as sheep and cattle do, who eat any time and have their stomach filled all the time, are often unhealthy, obese and likely to develop metabolic disorders. Especially, when the foods are processed, soda, salty, fatty, alcoholic and big size carbohydrates such as all rice meals, polished cereals and polished grains, such as polished corn dough and white bread.

You must determine when there should be food in your stomach or when your mouth should chew something, even chewing gum. Every time is not eating time; there are times to eat and times to allow your stomach process what you have eaten and your body to utilise what your stomach has processed. During these periods your mouth and stomach require rest which is vital to your body and your life.

However, since food is for eating and hypes appetite, many people have made it a habit to eat whenever there is food, even if their stomachs are overstretched and no longer require intake. They still heap large portions when their body has stored enough calories for days. Our body requires nutrients and energy to function, and it takes from the food we eat, utilises some immediately and stores the rest for use when required. The body always has store of nutrients and energy for at least three days without breaking into its untouched storage.

The body stored energy in the form of fats in fat or adipose tissues. If you're carrying extra pounds, it means you're taking in more energy or calories (calories are units of energy) than you're using. The extra energy is stored in adipose tissue all around your body in the form of triglycerides. Smaller amounts of energy are stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen. In males, excess fats are mostly stored as visceral fats or belly fat, females often have the fats stored in the waist and arms. The foods, especially the carbohydrates, sugars and fats we consume are used for a variety of processes or used immediately for energy. Excess fatty acids are converted back to triglycerides and largely stored in fat or adipose tissues.

As we continue to eat daily and at short hourly intervals, no time is given to the body to utilise the stored fats as more keep coming in. Storage becomes a huge problem for the body and finally it breaks down. This is when we begin to experience metabolic diseases or have diseases associated with eating and eating disorders. Diseases associated with eating include diabetes or high blood sugar, hypertension or high blood pressure, cancer or abnormal, unwanted and fatal cell growths and hypercholesterolemia or high cholesterol condition. These disorders can also be hereditary.

There are ways to control eating and give our bodies the chance to store and utilise energy for us efficiently without much problem for it. This will give us peace, health and long life. Like the battery in your laptop computer or mobile phone which supplies energy to your device, if you always charge it without giving it time to use the energy it already has or overcharge it, you make it weak and reduce the lifespan.

How Would You Know If Your Body Carries Unhealthy Weight?

Your body carries unhealthy load and is crying for over-storage help and sending you signals to help by reducing intake, if you are overweight or obese. But how would you know if you are overweight or obese? To have excess weight is not necessarily that you are unhealthy, overweight or obese. For example, boxers and weightlifters have huge body mass and are heavy, but they are not unhealthy, overweight or obese.

The simplest way is to measure your waist. The best and simplest way to tell if you’re at a healthy weight is from your waist size. That is what nutrition practitioners and counsellors say. “A waist circumference greater than 89 centimetre (35 inches) in women and greater than 102 centimetres (40 inches) in men could not only determine overweight status but put a hard-and-fast number on one’s health,” says Michelle Routhenstein, MS, RD, CDE, CDN, a nutrition counseling and consulting private practitioner in New York in the United States.

“Waist circumference above these numbers indicates excessive belly fat, a dangerous type of fat surrounding vital organs, which increases one’s risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and the metabolic syndrome. The advantage of this tool is that it is quick to perform and is a rather reliable predictor of risk for type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease,” she said.

To measure your waist circumference, all you need is a measuring tape. Place it on the top of your hip bone, bringing it around your body and level with your belly button just as a tailor measures the waist. Resist the temptation to suck in and don’t make the tape too snug. An inaccurate reading only hurts you.

Other ways to determine whether a person’s body has stored more fats than necessary are snoring, frequent heartburn, achy joints and chronic fatigue. “If your partner, best friend, or even you notice excessive snoring and you wake up restless, it may be a good reason to check your weight,” Routhenstein said. “If you snore frequently and rarely get a good night’s sleep, you may suffer from sleep apnea.”

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes your breathing to repeatedly stop and start again when you’re sleeping. It can cause loss of oxygen and extreme fatigue during waking hours. Most people with this condition tend to snore due to airway obstruction. “When your body stores fat around the neck, it may narrow the airway causing shallow breathing or pauses in breathing” (as observe in snoring), Routhenstein said.

Frequent heartburn is due to acid reflux. Changes in your body weight, even slight ones, can lead to more acid reflux. More than one-third of overweight and obese individuals experience gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Some research suggests there’s a connection between being obese and developing GERD.

Other symptoms of this condition include belching, nausea, a bitter taste in your mouth, and abdominal pain.

Obesity can cause achy joins. It is a risk factor for osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a disabling disorder that leads to joint deterioration, pain, decreased joint mobility, and a reduced quality of life. Carrying around extra weight applies more pressure on all of your joints, and as you gain weight, the pressure increases. If you have achy knees or hips, or chronic back pain, you may be experiencing signs of a weight problem.

Chronic fatigue can be a condition with unhealthy weight gain. Excess weight puts additional pressure on your organs, including your lungs. If simple tasks, such as tying your shoes or cleaning a room, lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, you may have a weight problem. Likewise, overweight and obese individuals have a greater risk of developing asthma. People with weight problems may experience chronic inflammation because of the excess weight. This may lead to inflammation in airways and can make breathing more difficult.

Additionally, overweight and obesity can be measured using Adult Body Mass measurements. Adult Body Mass or Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple calculation using a person's height and weight. The formula is BMI = kg/m2 where kg is a person's weight in kilograms and m2 is their height in metres squared. BMI is measured by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by your height in meters squared. For instance, if you weigh 80 kilograms and have a height of 1.5 meters, your BMI is 36 [(80 divided by (1.5x1.5)] and obese.

In general, If your BMI is between 18 and 25 you have a normal weight. If your BMI ranges between 25 to 30 you are overweight. If your BMI is over 30 you're considered obese. A reading at or over 40 is severe obesity. But it is confusing and may not accurately tell whether you are within healthy weight range or not. BMI can be a difficult way for the common person to know their degree of overweight or obesity.

Additionally, BMI can’t take into account muscle you might be carrying, which means false readings are possible. “BMI is not useful to measure an individual’s health,” said Dr. Charlie Seltzer, a weight loss expert who is board certified in obesity medicine and certified by the American College of Sports Medicine as a clinical exercise specialist. “By BMI standards, most NFL running backs are obese. In addition, I have found that doctors come off as judgmental when they say things like, ‘Well, your BMI says you’re obese.’”

Your body weight should concern you. There are many ways to shed the excess weight and keep your body mass within healthy limits. The best way to achieve it is not primarily to lift weights or run many kilometers a day or exercise which are very healthy to do. Lifting weights, running and exercising are not the causes of overweight and obesity in the first place. The simplest way is to cease taking in extra food because that is the main cause, if the condition is not hereditary. To control or reduce food intake is the best way to solve the problem of overweight and obesity, because the problem has to do with unguided food intake.

The best way to control food intake is intermittent fasting (IF). Intermittent fasting means you restrict or stop eating for a while to allow the body to utilize what it already has before another consignment of food is introduced into the stomach. There are several ways of doing this and unweary and interesting to practice. There are the 16/8, Eat-Stop-Eat and 5:2 Diet to choose or combine.

Intermittent Fasting Or Eating Habit
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them. It’s not a diet in the conventional sense but more accurately described as an eating pattern.

Common intermittent fasting methods involve daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week or for several days and weeks. But you don’t need to fast more than 24 hours a day to keep your body in a healthy weight. Besides, you are going to keep it as a daily routine for life. You are going to live a life between eating and abstinence from eating, hence the description 'intermittent fasting' or intermittent eating. This is the real meaning of fasting, that is, eating-pulse-eating. Do not strain yourself, take it easy, because it's gong to be your eternal lifestyle or normal way of life. Fasting is not a modern practice, it has been a practice throughout human evolution. In the ancient days there were no supermarkets, refrigerators or food available year-round. Sometimes the people couldn’t find anything to eat.

As a result, humans evolved to be able to function without food for extended periods of time. In fact, fasting from time to time is more natural than always eating 3–4 (or more) meals per day. Modern lifestyle considers having enough food to choose and eat from morning till midnight as luxury and show of wealth and good living, but it is the cause of modern day sicknesses and diseases and drastic reduction in lifespan of contemporary human beings. It is the reason why people die earlier in the modern times than in the olden days.

In the olden days people did not always have food in the refrigerator or already prepared foods at the supermarkets, ready to eat, they spend long time to prepare their food or eat fresh fruits which were the only ready-made foods at hand. Fasting in the olden days was not for rituals or spirituality, it was a normal and natural lifestyle. But today, to embark on such normal and natural eating lifestyle requires much commitment and effort because there are a lot of food and eating temptations to overcome, posed by availability of all sorts of foods, already prepared and ready-to-eat, packed in cans, boxes, glasses and paper bags at supermarkets, in refrigerators and at every corner of the streets and working places and homes, at everywhere we turn.

Food is everywhere and generously served at every corner in the rich developed countries, at homes and every where you go. What is required is your money. In some cases, they are free. Some are sent to the undeveloped countries packed in bottles, plastics and cartons and frozen or preserved with chemicals. But because the underdeveloped countries also have fridges and supermarkets and are funs of foreign lifestyles or have bad policies or are war-torn and so have no chance to produce food themselves, they also eat in styles similar to the developed nations.

Fasting was also often done for religious or spiritual reasons. Today, it is a practice in Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. So where you will hear fasting is often in the churches and mosques among Christians and Moslems, and for spiritual deliverances from known and unknown enemies and for spiritual supplies of needs or because it is an order by a church or mosque for religious purposes or occasions. The people themselves do not see the need to fast when there is food around. But intermittent fasting or stop eating for a while is not a spiritual practice, it is for health reasons; it makes us smart, sharp and focused, ready to stand against time and take disciplinary decisions and it prolongs our life on earth.

Intermittent Fasting Methods
Today, you require discipline to fast. There are several different ways of doing that — all of which involve splitting the day or week into eating and fasting periods. During the fasting periods, you eat either very little or nothing at all. The most common methods are the 16/8, Eat-Stop-Eat and 5:2 Diet forms.

The 16/8 Method
Also called the Leangains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between. Usually between 9 p.m. till the next day 1 p.m. you put nothing in your mouth, not even fruits or fruit juices or vegetables, except water, tea or coffee.

This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day. In religious circles, it could be for days and weeks. But that is not what you are encouraged to do here. You are warned not to fast beyond 24 hours without water or consultation with a doctor. Besides, women in particular should be careful when it comes to fasting as you would soon learn. Many women are mained or paralysed and many have died because of this ignorance, especially among Christians.

The 5:2 Diet
With this method, you consume only 500–600 calories on two nonconsecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days. This is also another practice within religious circles.

This was the religious practice of a Jewish religious sect called the Pharisee in the Bible. They used this type of fasting to boast before God. Jesus told a parable of how a Pharisee went to the temple to pray with a worldly fellow. He said, “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” He bemoaned the Pharisee that he was not serious, and said he would go home empty and receive nothing from his prayers (Luke 18:9-14).

What these religious folks did not know was that the fasting was only for the reason of their health. God gave the Israelites traditions and commanded them not to eat certain animals, birds and fishes and to fast at certain times, but they were just to provide guidance for their health. But they took them to be means to justify themselves before God and to condemn others for not practicing them.

If you are obese or have problems trying to lose weight, all of these methods should help you to achieve your aim without any strict diet or strenuous exercises or gym works. By these methods, you can lose weight easily. But do not compensate by eating much more during the eating periods. Many people find the 16/8 method to be the simplest, most sustainable and easiest to stick to. It’s also the most popular.

16/8 eating habit means that you skip breakfast every day and stop eating from 9 p.m. You can drink water, tea or coffee at anytime, but without sugar and fruit juice. If you are on medication, consult with your doctor or eat something little to take your prescription. If you are pregnant or wants to get pregnant, don’t fast more than breakfast.

How Intermittent Fasting Affects Your Cells and Hormones

When you intermittently fast, several things happen in your body on the cellular and molecular level. For example, your body adjusts hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. Your cells also initiate important repair processes and change the expression of genes.

Here are some changes that occur in your body when you fast:

  • Human Growth Hormone (HGH): The levels of growth hormone skyrocket, increasing as much as 5-fold. This has benefits for fat loss and muscle gain, to name a few.
  • Insulin: Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible.
  • Cellular repair: When fasted, your cells initiate cellular repair processes. This includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells.
  • Gene expression: There are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease.

These changes in hormone levels, cell function and gene expression are responsible for the health benefits of intermittent fasting.

A Very Powerful Weight Loss Tool
Weight loss is the most common reason for people to try intermittent fasting. By making you eat fewer meals, intermittent fasting can lead to an automatic reduction in calorie intake.

Additionally, intermittent fasting changes hormone levels to facilitate weight loss. In addition to lowering insulin and increasing growth hormone levels, it increases the release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Because of these changes in the hormones, short-term fasting may increase your metabolic rate by 3.6–14%.

By helping you eat fewer and burn more calories, intermittent fasting causes weight loss by changing both sides of the calorie equation.

Studies show that intermittent fasting can be a very powerful weight loss tool. A 2014 review study found that this eating pattern can cause 3–8% weight loss over 3–24 weeks, which is a significant amount, compared to most weight loss studies.

According to the same study, people also lost 4–7% of their waist circumference, indicating a significant loss of harmful belly fat that builds up around your organs and causes disease. Another study showed that intermittent fasting causes less muscle loss than the more standard method of continuous calorie restriction.

However, keep in mind that the main reason for its success is that intermittent fasting helps you eat fewer calories overall. If you binge and eat massive amounts during your eating periods, you may not lose any weight at all.

Health Benefits
Many studies have been done on intermittent fasting, in both animals and humans. These studies have shown that it can have powerful benefits for weight control and the health of your body and brain. It may even help you live longer.

Here are the main health benefits of intermittent fasting:

  • Weight loss: As mentioned above, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat, without having to consciously restrict calories.
  • Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3–6% and fasting insulin levels by 20–31%, which should protect against type 2 diabetes.
  • Inflammation: Some studies show reductions in markers of inflammation, a key driver of many chronic diseases.
  • Heart health: Intermittent fasting may reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance — all risk factors for heart disease.
  • Cancer: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may prevent cancer.
  • Brain health: Intermittent fasting increases the brain hormone BDNF and may aid the growth of new nerve cells. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Anti-aging: Intermittent fasting can extend lifespan in rats. Studies showed that fasted rats lived 36–83% longer.

Keep in mind that research is still in its early stages. Many of the studies were small, short-term or conducted in animals. Many questions have yet to be answered in higher quality human studies.

Makes Your Healthy Lifestyle Simpler
Eating healthy is simple, but it can be incredibly hard to maintain. One of the main obstacles is all the work required to plan for and cook healthy meals.

Intermittent fasting can make things easier, as you don’t need to plan, cook or clean up after as many meals as before. For this reason, intermittent fasting is very popular among the life-hacking crowd, as it improves your health while simplifying your life at the same time.

Who Should Be Careful Or Avoid It?
Intermittent fasting is certainly not for everyone. If you’re underweight or have a history of eating disorders, you should not fast without consulting with a health professional first. In these cases, it can be downright harmful.

People who are underweight or have a history of eating disorders should not fast. There is also some evidence that intermittent fasting may be harmful to some women.

Should Women Fast?
Fasting is not as equally beneficial to women as to men. There is some evidence that intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for women as it is for men. For example, one study showed that it improved insulin sensitivity in men, but worsened blood sugar control in women.

Though human studies on this topic are unavailable, studies in rats have found that intermittent fasting can make female rats emaciated, masculinized, infertile and cause them to miss cycles. There are a number of anecdotal reports of women whose menstrual period stopped when they started doing IF and went back to normal when they resumed their previous eating pattern.

For these reasons, women should be careful with intermittent fasting.

They should follow separate guidelines, like easing into the practice and stopping immediately if they have any problems like amenorrhea (absence of menstruation). If you have issues with fertility and/or are trying to conceive, consider holding off on intermittent fasting for now. This eating pattern is likely also a bad idea if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Safety and Side Effects
The most common side effect of intermittent fasting is hunger. People with certain medical conditions should not fast without consulting with a doctor first. Hunger is the main side effect of intermittent fasting. You may also feel weak and your brain may not perform as well as you’re used to.

This may only be temporary, as it can take some time for your body to adapt to the new meal schedule.

If you have a medical condition, you should consult with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting. This is particularly important if you:

  • Have diabetes.
  • Have problems with blood sugar regulation.
  • Have low blood pressure.
  • Take medications.
  • Are underweight.
  • Have a history of eating disorders.
  • Are a woman who is trying to conceive.
  • Are a woman with a history of amenorrhea.
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding.

All that being said, intermittent fasting has an outstanding safety profile. There is nothing dangerous about not eating for a while if you’re healthy and well-nourished overall. Drink water if you are fasting. You can do water fasting where you drink water alone for days.

The overall aim is to let our mouth and stomach rest, and in so doing, we limit the amount of foods, especially junk foods we packed into our stomach and that of our family, especially our kids. We have to teach our kids not to fast, but to be discipline when it comes to eating, they should not eat everything and at anytime. We will help reduce obesity in the kids and give them a healthier and longer life and future.

As for adults who are already obsessed or overwhelmingly attracted to eating at will with all our thoughts on food, our possessive thoughts and actions are to eat as much as we can anywhere and every time we see food, with extreme passion and attraction to food and eating and our compulsions lost control and are already obese, we need great discipline, commitment, endurance and fasting unto God to come down to help us avoid the temptation of food.

At the beginning, your stomach and soul will punish you for not eating as frequently as you use to do, but after a time they would find that you are rather helping them, and agree with you and adjust. You are the one to tell your body how food should be supplied, don’t allow your body to dictate it. When your body understands that you want the best for it and for yourself, it would cope with you and be carried along. Begin today and embark on this healthy and long life journey and lifestyle.