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The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Dr. Michelle Salga, BTR (dip.), BSc., ND - Naturopathic Doctor

Intermittent Fasting

As the summer comes to a close, we may be finding that we have put on a little bit of weight from summer gatherings, bbqs and patio nights out. As the kids are soon going back to school and we get back into routine, we may start thinking about getting back into a routine regarding our health that may have been put on that (bbq) back burner during the summer. Many of my patients have been inquiring about intermittent fasting and its benefits. The truth is that there are many health benefits to intermittent fasting but it’s not a one size fits all model. There are many different types of fasting and it’s important to figure out which type is right for you.


Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting. The primary idea behind intermittent fasting is to give your body extended periods of time without food to help optimize various physiological processes. The specific mechanisms by which intermittent fasting works involve several interconnected factors:

  1. Insulin Sensitivity: One of the key benefits of intermittent fasting is improved insulin sensitivity. During fasting periods, insulin levels drop, which allows cells to become more receptive to insulin’s effects. This can help regulate blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, and support overall metabolic health.

  2. Cellular Repair and Autophagy: Intermittent fasting triggers a process called autophagy, which is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells and regenerating new ones. Autophagy is associated with longevity and reduced risk of various diseases, including degenerative conditions.

  3. Hormonal Changes: Intermittent fasting can cause beneficial changes in hormone levels. For example, growth hormone levels tend to rise during fasting periods, promoting fat breakdown and muscle preservation. Additionally, norepinephrine (noradrenaline) levels increase, which can boost metabolism and fat burning.

  4. Gene Expression: Intermittent fasting can influence the expression of certain genes that are involved in longevity and disease protection. It’s believed that fasting triggers changes in gene expression that enhance the body's ability to cope with stress and repair cellular damage.

  5. Weight Management: By limiting the eating window, intermittent fasting can naturally reduce overall caloric intake. This calorie restriction can lead to weight loss over time. Additionally, intermittent fasting may help reduce the risk of overeating or snacking throughout the day, which can contribute to weight gain.

  6. Inflammation Reduction: Chronic inflammation is linked to various health issues, including heart disease and cancer. Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce markers of inflammation in the body, contributing to better overall health.

  7. Brain Health: Intermittent fasting may have neuroprotective effects, including the promotion of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports brain health and cognitive function. It may also reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain.

  8. Gut Health: Fasting periods can give the digestive system a break, allowing it to rest and potentially promoting a healthier gut environment. This can positively impact digestion, nutrient absorption, and gut microbial balance.

It’s important to note that while intermittent fasting offers numerous potential benefits, it might not be suitable for everyone. Factors such as age, sex, medical history, and individual lifestyle preferences should be considered before adopting an intermittent fasting regimen. Additionally, the effectiveness of intermittent fasting can vary from person to person. When it comes to women, there are a few considerations to keep in mind due to the unique hormonal fluctuations and physiological differences.


Intermittent fasting affects women differently compared to men due to the intricate interplay of hormones, primarily estrogen and progesterone. Women’s bodies are sensitive to changes in energy availability, which can influence hormonal balance and overall well-being. Here are some key points to consider when exploring intermittent fasting for women: Hormonal fluctuations, fasting duration, lower caloric needs compared to men, individual variation between women due to different metabolisms and hormonal response and stress and adrenal health.


Incorporating intermittent fasting into your lifestyle should be a gradual and personalized process, taking into account your specific goals, health status, and hormonal considerations. As a Naturopathic Doctor, I am well equipped to assess the potential benefits and risks for my individual patients and provide tailored guidance. My expertise in nutrition and holistic health will play a crucial role in guiding you through the process of implementing intermittent fasting in a way that aligns with your health goals and unique circumstances. Taking a personalized approach and considering your individual needs will contribute to the success of any intermittent fasting plan. During our consultation together, I will engage in an open conversation about your individual health history and goals which will be essential in creating a plan that aligns with your needs.


I offer complimentary discovery calls to new patients who would like assistance in achieving their health goals with an experienced health practitioner. Book in today for your free call to see if naturopathic medicine is a good fit for you.

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