Health & Fitness Digest - Oct 18

In today's digest:

  • How fasting can slow down the ageing process.
  • Aerobic exercise improves brain function but strength training does not??
  • How does your country rank in the global diabetes epidemic?

How “fasting” can slow down ageing

I’ve been a fan of “fasting” for a while now.

In fact, as I’m writing this, I haven’t had anything to eat in almost 36 hours, and I feel fantastic.

Even though fasting is often associated with religious practices, it has its roots in health sciences and preventative medicine.

Numerous studies over the years have demonstrated how fasting (anywhere from 18 hours to multi-day) triggers a “clean-up” process in the body through a process called autophagy. During this process, cells in the body focus on “cleaning house”, getting rid of toxins, free radicals and most importantly: cell apoptosis (cell suicide), where bad cells (such as cancer cells) are rid of.

Because fasting allows the body to get rid of free radicals, it automatically slows down the ageing process. This has been further demonstrated through this study from the Netherlands where “restricted diets” prolonged the age span of mice with defective DNA which shortens their lifespan.

Another benefit of fasting is that it helps restore insulin sensitivity, making you more metabolically efficient (increasing your ability to burn fat).

Are you new to fasting but keen on trying it? Start with fasting for 16 hours twice a week (e.g. dinner to late lunch). Once you get comfortable with that, gradually increase the fast to 24 hours once or twice a week.

If you want to take it to the next level, then introduce 3 to 5-day fasts once every 6-8 weeks.

Aerobic (but not strength??) exercise can make you smarter?

Have you heard of something called the “runner’s high”? It’s the euphoric feeling runners get when they run continuously for an hour or more.

This is a very simple example of how physical activity impacts our brain, not just our muscles and cardiovascular systems.

Our brains produce compounds called brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF). These compounds regulate our cognitive (mental) abilities as well as our mood.

Anecdotal evidence (as well as numerous studies) have often demonstrated how exercises enhances brain function and improves mood.

In fact, I would say that it would be impossible to be physically active and in a bad mood at the same time!

But do all forms of exercise affect the brain in the same way?

It turns out that the answer is no!

According to this large-scale study from the University of Toronto, aerobic exercise leads to a significant increase in BDNF in the brain, while resistance exercise does not!

I was surprised to see this to be honest. But of course resistance exercise remains superior to aerobic exercise in a wide range of other areas, including overall fitness, strength, fat loss, etc.

So my recommendation remains in-line with my own training and what I advise people to do – mix it up: include all forms of exercise in your training, from aerobic, to strength, explosive, functional, agility, etc

Did you ever wonder how many people in your country are diabetic? Prepare to be shocked (I was)

I’ve put together the ranking of various countries in terms of % of the population suffering from diabetes, and the results are shocking (especially for countries from the Middle East).

This is serious considering that the vast majority of cases of Diabetes are of Type II Diabetes, which is created by bad lifestyle and nutrition habits.

You can find it all at this link. (I've highlighted in bold countries from the Middle East).


As usual, any questions / comments please insert below.