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THE CONNECTION BETWEEN FASTING AND SKIN

WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?

Intermittent fasting has been a trend in the health and wellness space recently, but what exactly is it? 

Intermittent fasting involves only eating for a specified time window and refraining from food for the remaining time frame. Although the eating:fasting ratio can differ depending on the person, one of the most common is 8 hour eating to 16 hour fasting ratio. For example, one following this fasting plan would eat from 12PM to 8PM and then fast until noon the next day. 

Intermittent fasting promotes benefits such as [1]:

  • Changes in gene expression that facilitate weight loss
  • Lower type 2 diabetes risk but reducing insulin resistance
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Beneficial for heart health among others

Warning: Intermittent fasting is not recommended for everyone, especially those with medical conditions or disordered eating. Please do not participate in intermittent fasting if it is not  holistically healthy for you to do so. 

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN FASTING AND SKIN

The question then becomes, what is the connection of intermittent fasting to our skin health? 

Interestingly, intermittent fasting can have a greater effect on our skin than previously thought. Intermittent fasting can trigger a process called autophagy, which is like the clean up crew for our body. 

Autophagy is the clearing of old and damaged cells and proteins to make way for newer, healthier ones. When our damaged cells are cleared out and healthy cells are exposed, we appear to have visibly brighter skin [2]. Although autophagy may improve skin health, it is important to note that you cannot merely just fast to maintain optimal skin health - rather it should be treated as an extra care mechanism. 

Scientific publications also back up intermittent fasting and skin health. Researchers have noticed that intermittent fasting (long term caloric restriction) had an effect on the metabolic makeup of the dermis in a mouse population [3]. After 6 months, they found that the dermis acquired a more oxidative metabolic profile that led to an increased population of stem cells and increased fur retention. 

Also, short term fasting has been associated with wound healing. Researchers found that fasting increases macrophage activity and stimulates new cell growth by the production of transforming growth factor alpha (TGF-α) by the macrophages [4]. 

TAKEAWAY

There is mounting evidence associating intermittent fasting with skin health, however it is worth mentioning that everyone is different in what works best for them. Intermittent fasting may work to make your skin appear to be brighter and more youthful, as well as having an effect on your gut microbiome which is also related to skin. If it is healthy to do so, give intermittent fasting a try as a supplement in your skincare routine. 


Sources:
  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting#TOC_TITLE_HDR_7
  2. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/link-between-intermittent-fasting-and-youthful-skin
  3. Forni MF, Peloggia J, Braga TT, Chinchilla JEO, Shinohara J, Navas CA, Camara NOS, Kowaltowski AJ. Caloric Restriction Promotes Structural and Metabolic Changes in the Skin. Cell Rep. 2017 Sep 12;20(11):2678-2692. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.08.052. PMID: 28903047.
  4. Hayati F, Maleki M, Pourmohammad M, Sardari K, Mohri M, Afkhami A. Influence of Short-term, Repeated Fasting on the Skin Wound Healing of Female Mice. Wounds. 2011 Feb;23(2):38-43. PMID: 25881054.

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