FINE. I surrender. Sometimes intermittent fasting can help. Intermittent fasting is all the hype right now. I wrote a blog post a little bit ago during my hormone series called “Is Fasting Safe for Women.” When it comes to the women’s reproductive system, fasting can be detrimental but when it comes to digestion it may actually be beneficial.
Researchers have found that intermittent fasting (fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8 hours a day) can influence the balance of the gut microbiome. As we know the microbiome influences our overall health and even our happiness! If your gut is out of wack, your moods will be too! Our gut bacteria also directly influences our weight, athletic abilities, immune function, inflammation, allergies, metabolism, and appetite. What we eat and our environment directly influences our microbiome.
So how does fasting help ease digestive symptoms?
- Fasting gives our overworked gut a break from digesting food all the time and allows our bodies to spend time focusing on healing whether it be the digestive tract or other areas of our body.
- Fasting can directly affect our gut bacteria because of our circadian rhythm. Yes, our gut microbes also have a circadian rhythm. Our gut bacteria changes throughout the day and night meaning our bodies process nutrients differently depending on the time of day. Keeping an eating window between 9am-5pm during the winter and changing it during the summer could be highly beneficial. Some gut microbes are sensitive to melatonin (the sleep hormone) and when interrupted by late night eating or drinking it can cause gas, bloating and other uncomfortable symptoms and also allows opportunist bacteria to take over and cause gut infections. Eating and drinking late at night is a big NO for our gut microbiomes.
So what does this mean? Intermittent fast to heal your digestion but allow your endocrine system to suffer? Certainly not. My personal opinion, there are so many reasons your digestion is out of wack and so many ways to heal it without needing to fast and in some cases I can see this only causing more digestive issues, especially when adding food back in on a normal schedule. Our bodies are all unique and what works for one person, might not for another.
Keep in mind, all the systems of our bodies are connected, once our hormones come into balance our digestion may follow or vice versa.
What do you think? What has you been your experience with intermittent fasting?