Regenerative medicine refers to a branch of medicine which deals with the process of replacing or regenerating human cells, tissues or organs to restore or establish normal function.

Although many equate the clinical application of regenerative medicine to be the injection of stem cells or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) into an injured or diseased body part, regenerative medicine is much more expansive and includes appropriate diet and exercise.

Intermittent fasting

Every New Year, resolutions are made to improve ourselves. Weight loss is a common goal. The intent is commendable, but execution and success can remain elusive. What is the best diet? What does clinical research suggest is the best way to lose weight?

A timely article has been recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)1, a premier, peer-reviewed medical publication, regarding intermittent fasting as a diet alternative. I will cover some salient points regarding the diet and the article.

Costs

Simply stated, nothing costs nothing. No meal plans, memberships or subscriptions required. That being said, as an intermittent faster myself, there is a psychological cost in getting used to feeling hungry. However, overcoming the urge to eat can be quite empowering.

Health Benefits of a Regenerative Medicine Diet

Studies have demonstrated that intermittent fasting causes metabolic switching, an adaptation to being without food. This change from glucose(sugar)-to-fat based energy production by our body improves blood sugar regulation, suppresses inflammation and increases resistance to stress. Less inflammation may be beneficial for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or asthma. Other benefits include decreased blood pressure, blood lipid (cholesterol) levels, and resting heart rates resulting in better cardiovascular health. In comparison to other calorie-restricted diets, intermittent fasting appears to be better for insulin sensitivity-important for diabetics and pre-diabetics- and reduced belly fat. Memory may also improve as a result of maintaining an intermittent fasting diet. Some reports also suggest the diet slows tumor growth in some cancers.

What is the The Diet?

There are basically 2 options. One could limit the number of hours you eat in a given day to 6-8 hours. That is, no eating for 16-18 hours daily. Certainly, you should not overindulge during the eating hours. Additionally, one should make healthy food choices during those hours. Alternatively, one could follow the 5:2 plan. In this diet plan, two days out of every week you limit yourself to one small meal per day (< 500 calories).

Getting Started

Fasting can be difficult and frankly painful. But as the saying goes, nothing worthwhile comes easily. Speaking from personal experience, after the initial transition into the diet, it can be fairly easily maintained. The ability to control our instinctive drive to eat as a means of survival is empowering. One can slowly increase the number of hours fasting. By avoiding eating after dinner and delaying the first meal of the day, the hours spent awake and feeling hungry are minimized. Drinking water or unsweetened coffee or tea can mitigate the hunger pangs that inevitably are part of the intermittent fasting diet. If using the alternative 5:2 method, slowly decrease the amount of calories consumed on the fasting days over 1-2 months.

Conclusion

Intermittent fasting is a relatively inexpensive means of achieving a healthier life. In conjunction with exercise, and good sleep habits, it is the essence of achieving the outcomes of value-based regenerative medicine ideally with less medication and other medical or surgical interventions.

1. deCabo R and Mattson MP. Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging and Disease. New England Journal Medicine  2019;381:2541-51.

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