New research suggests intermittent fasting may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
One of the unique parts of an Isagenix system is its Cleanse Days. As anyone who uses Isagenix products knows well, performing routine Cleanse Days are at the heart of gaining the greatest health benefits. This is because Cleanse Days help “reset” cellular mechanisms in the body, sparking fat burning, detoxification, and a host of other positive effects.
A major characteristic of Cleanse Days—apart from supplementation with Cleanse for Life, the detox-promoting drink—is the abstinence from food, or intermittent water fasting. Now, evidence is growing that intermittent water fasting could be key to avoiding chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
While most people are aware of the strong evidence behind calorie restriction (as achieved on Shake Days) for reducing risk of chronic disease, recent studies are finding that it may be intermittent fasting (as on Cleanse Days) that is even more beneficial for ultimate longevity.
Previously, Dr. Benjamin Horne and colleagues at Intermountain Heart Institute in Salt Lake City found an association between periodic (or intermittent) fasting and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The same research team has recently further extended their analysis and found an association with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus), which is characterized by uncontrolled blood sugar.
The scientists pooled data from 648 patients undergoing an angioplasty procedure and found that risk of diabetes was lower in individuals that undergo routine, periodic fasting. Periodic fasting was not only linked to lower rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but it was also linked to a lower fasting blood sugar level in individuals who did not have diabetes. The individuals pooled in the current study are reported to fast for 24 hours a month.
Not observed in previous studies, the authors reported that periodic fasting was also associated with a lower body mass index (BMI), a ratio based on an individual’s height and weight used as criteria for determining overweight and obesity.
The researchers pose a variety of mechanisms that may underlie the protective benefits that fasting provides:
Reduced levels of chronic oxidative stress and inflammation, which are potential factors in insulin resistance and eventual type 2 diabetes.
A “reset” of cellular sensitivity to glucose and/or insulin.
Increased levels of human growth hormone (HGH). In an earlier study, the researchers found that fasting for 24 hours increased HGH by 20 times in men and 13 times in women. The surge of HGH stimulates fat burning as it prevents muscle breakdown.
While the benefits of intermittent water fasting are promising, undergoing a prolonged fast (longer than two days) is not recommended. Prolonged fasting can bump the body into a state of starvation potentially causing loss of muscle and harming the body’s health.
Notably, the majority of subjects included in Dr. Horne’s research are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). This population is ideal because many undergo monthly fasting as part of their religious practice. Of the patients pooled, 34 percent reported participating in routine monthly fasting.
LDS members are generally at a lower risk for several chronic diseases due to a cluster of preventative behaviors including abstinence from smoking and alcohol. Each of these behaviors had to be considered in the study. The association between periodic fasting and lower risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease remained significant after controlling for age, gender, and lifestyle behaviors.
Cleanse Days, as advocated by Isagenix, provide the health benefits of intermittent water fasting while also including Cleanse for Life, a supplement that comes with the added advantage of optimal dosages of vitamins, minerals, and actives from botanicals. These assist the body’s detoxification and cleansing processes.
When Cleanse Days are performed regularly (one or two days a week, or one day every other week), the body undergoes a variety of positive changes. There are various enzymes that are activated, mitochondria are shown to increase in number and become more efficient, oxidative stress is reduced (a hallmark of longevity), and fat is mobilized and used for fuel in the muscle and liver. Cleanse for Life also revs up detoxification and antioxidant enzymes for cellular health.
The positive biological changes created on Cleanse Days are enhanced when followed by Shake Days—rich in quality protein, good fats, low-glycemic carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. They lead to decreases in body fat (especially visceral fat), reduced levels of oxidative stress and inflammation, increased insulin sensitivity, and better maintenance of muscle. These are biochemical changes that lead to reduced risk of chronic disease and better health long-term.
Horne BD et al. Relation of Routine, Periodic Fasting to Risk of Diabetes Mellitus, and Coronary Artery Disease in Patients Undergoing Coronary Angiography. Am J Cardiol. 2012;xx:xxx. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2012.01.379.
Horne BD, et al. Usefulness of routine periodic fasting to lower risk of coronary artery disease among patients undergoing coronary angiography. Am J Cardiol. 2008. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2008.05.021