You might have heard of the great benefits of intermittent fasting, and even searched play store for the best intermittent fasting app. In this article, we will discuss extensively intermittent fasting and hypothyroidism state.
Intermittent fasting is now very common in recent years. What started as a primarily religious activity is now being practiced by millions of people for its many health benefits. So what is Intermittent Fasting anyway, and why is it such a big deal?
Simply put, intermittent fasting is a form of time-restricted fasting that involves eating foods within an 8-hour window and not eating anything else (fasting) for the remaining 16 hours of the day. People who practice this specific type of fasting tend to organize their eating pattern so that it supports their circadian rhythm, meaning they abstain from food at night, in the early mornings and late evenings. But what exactly are the benefits of intermittent fasting, and how does it work?
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
It helps improve the function of your cells, genes, and hormones, which in turn facilitates cellular repair processes.
Intermittent fasting helps you lose weight and burn belly fat.
It reduces insulin resistance, which lowers your risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
Intermittent fasting helps to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
Intermittent fasting helps to improve risk factors related to heart disease. Some of these risk factors are blood pressure, total and LDL cholesterol, blood sugar levels, etc.
Why Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
When you practice intermittent fasting, your body alternates between two states, a fasted state, and a fed state; both physical states affect your body in very different ways.
In a fed state, your body digests and absorbs food; as a result, it becomes very difficult for your body to burn fat because your insulin levels are very high. The fed state begins right when you start eating and lasts for 3 to 5 hours.
Once your body leaves the fed state, it enters into the post-absorptive state, which is also called the fasted state. This lasts from 8 to 12 hours after your last meal. Your body can burn fat more efficiently during the fasted state because your insulin levels are really low, meaning that the fat that was inaccessible during the fed state can now be burned.
Our bodies rarely enter into the fasted state because we are always in a fed state. This is where intermittent fasting comes in. Intermittent fasting helps you maintain a perfect balance between the fed state and the fasted state, making it easy for your body to burn fat naturally.
Intermittent Fasting and Thyroid Health
Now, for those with thyroid issues, how does intermittent fasting impact your health?
Intermittent fasting mainly affects thyroid activity by its unique impact on the body’s circadian rhythms and blood sugar balance. These factors have a crucial role in thyroid function, especially among those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism.
The thyroid depends heavily on the body’s internal clock, which is also called the circadian rhythms. The circadian rhythms regulate hormones, immunity, and influences insulin release as well as stress response. People with thyroid problems experience reduced circadian activity. So this begs the question, since intermittent fasting has a significant impact on thyroid activity, how safe is it for people who suffer from hypothyroidism?
Intermittent Fasting and Hypothyroid: Is It Safe?
Many believe that intermittent fasting can be beneficial for treating hypothyroidism. This is because a 16 hour fast can help reduce sugar and insulin levels, resulting in boosted hormone activity. Intermittent fasting also has the effect of calibrating diurnal (daytime), circadian rhythms.
Now, is intermittent fasting genuinely safe for people with hypothyroidism? Well, fasting only becomes a problem for people with thyroid problems once they embark on extended fasts. The basic 16 hours intermittent fasting day is more restricted-eating than fasting, so it is likely to be quite safe for those who at least have decent adrenal and blood glucose stability. However, most people with thyroid issues do not have stable enough blood glucose levels, circadian balance, or adrenal function to safely go about intermittent fasting.
So how do those with hypothyroidism benefit from intermittent fasting?
Staying Safe While Fasting
The only way for people with hypothyroidism to benefit from intermittent fasting is to ensure that they can embark on this fast without harming their health.
Below are some tips to help you stay safe while fasting:
Talk to your physician: this is very important because only your doctor can genuinely give you advice on how to manage your unique case of hypothyroidism while fasting.
Watch what you eat: Eating healthy food is essential. Do well to avoid sugary foods and dairy as they are counter-productive when you are fasting.
Take it slow: It is best to try a shorter fasting time, preferably 12 or 14 hours max. Do this to test the waters, and if all goes well, then you can gradually build up to 16 hours.
Avoid stress: stress during intermittent can cause gut damage, which would be not only counter-productive but also very harmful. So no stress, and don’t over-exercise.
Intermittent fasting comes with amazing benefits, but when you have hypothyroidism, you have to be extra careful to ensure you don’t harm yourself in the process of attempting to improve your health.
Make sure you talk to your physician and take the necessary steps to stay safe during your fast.