How Intermittent Fasting Can Help Women Develop Healthy Bones

intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is a unique eating pattern that involves alternate periods of fasting and eating. Intermittent fasting has emerged as one of the most popular diets to promote faster weight loss. 

Intermittent fasting is recommended to help people stay fit and healthy. It is also linked to improved hormonal balance and bone health. 

It is very important for people to be aware of how exactly this diet works. They should also find out the best ways to follow intermittent fasting in order to gain maximum benefits without the risk of side effects. Read on to find out all about intermittent fasting and whether it can help you develop healthy bones. 

What is intermittent fasting?    

Intermittent fasting refers to a form of a special diet that involves a pattern of alternate fasting and eating. 

This diet does not specify which foods people should eat. It emphasizes when you should eat. This means people who want to follow this diet should plan a specific eating pattern and decide the duration and time of when they can eat food and when they need to fast.

Fasting has been a common practice throughout the evolution of different civilizations across the world. Some people fast for spiritual and religious reasons.

It is only recently that intermittent fasting has been recommended for improving health. Recent research studies have revealed that intermittent fasting could help to promote weight loss, regulate the production of hormones, prevent cancers, and improve bone health. Let’s have a look at the different forms of intermittent fasting and their benefits. 

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What are the different forms of intermittent fasting?

 There are several forms of intermittent fasting depending on the duration of fasting involved as described beneath: 

12-hours fasting

In this form, people need to adhere to a 12-hour fasting period every day. According to researchers, continuous fasting for about 10 to 16 hours could enhance the fat burning processes and encourage weight loss. [1]

It is believed to work by depriving the body of an instant source of energy thus forcing it to convert fats into glycogen to meet its fuel requirements. 

This form of intermittent fasting is especially good for beginners as it involves a relatively smaller fasting window, much of which occurs during sleep. 

16:8 hours fasting 

This method involves fasting for 16 hours a day with a window of 8 hours for eating food. People may try fasting for 14 hours instead of 16 hours if they find it difficult to avoid food intake for 14 hours. 

This method of intermittent fasting is suitable for people who have already tried the 12-hour fasting method. 

2-days a week fasting 

People can try the 2-days a week fasting method, which involves eating healthy and nutritious foods for 5 days of the week. They can skip the food intake completely or consume low-calorie foods on the remaining 2 days of the week. 

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Research studies have revealed that this form of diet can help to support weight loss. It may also improve insulin sensitivity and thus, control the symptoms of type 2 diabetes in men and women. [2]

Alternate day intermittent fasting

Fasting on alternate days could help people lose weight faster as the frequent periods of fasting deprive the body of a readily available source of energy.

Depending on their ability to control their food intake, a person can choose the best method of intermittent fasting suitable for them. 

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?

Weight loss

Intermittent fasting is considered an effective way to lose those extra pounds. It can also help to get rid of belly fat. It could also be beneficial for women who are trying to get into a perfect shape after pregnancy. 

Women often find it difficult to shed the excess weight gained during pregnancy. 

The excess calories consumed by women are stored in the body in the form of fats, if they are not utilized due to the lack of physical activities, causing weight gain. A sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, and unhealthy dietary habits further worsen weight gain. 

Intermittent fasting can reduce the supply of energy or fuel to the body that it otherwise receives from carbohydrates and fats in foods. As a result, the body is forced to re-convert the stored fats into a usable source of energy thereby accelerating fat loss. [3]

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People who are overweight or are trying to get rid of belly fat can consider intermittent fasting for losing excess fats. [4]

Preserves muscle mass

Intermittent fasting may be superior to any other weight loss diet because it could help to preserve muscle mass. People tend to lose their muscle mass with age. Their muscles become weak as a result of which these tissues can not support the bones during regular body activity.

Intermittent fasting can help people avoid this age-related process. Fasting could stimulate the production of the human growth hormone. The increased levels of this hormone would promote muscle growth, making the muscles stronger. [5]

Controls diabetes

Intermittent fasting is recommended for people who suffer from type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The risk of diabetes is higher in people who are obese. Intermittent fasting can help a person maintain a healthy weight and reduce the chances of developing diabetes. 

Intermittent fasting can also lead to the loss of excess fats from the body. This can help people avoid the complications of diabetes. 

Can intermittent fasting help to improve bone health?

Intermittent fasting has been found to be effective for improving bone health and reducing the risk of bone and joint diseases. Let’s discuss the benefits of intermittent fasting.

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Prevents osteoporosis

Research studies have shown that postmenopausal women are more likely to develop faster bone loss and osteoporosis. This occurs due to the reduced production of the female reproductive hormone called estrogen after menopause. 

Intermittent fasting could help to regulate the balance of hormones in the body. It would restore healthy levels of estrogen thereby slowing down bone loss. When coupled with a healthy diet containing calcium and vitamin D, intermittent fasting would enhance bone formation. This can help to maintain the mineral content of the bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. [6] [7]

Calorie restriction, through intermittent fasting, could also potentially inhibit the progress of age-related damage to the bones. This can slow down bone loss and degenerative changes in the bones thus preventing osteoporosis. [8]

Inhibits osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis is an infective disorder affecting the bones. It occurs when the infective pathogens reach a bone through the bloodstream or from the nearby tissue. Osteomyelitis may also begin in the bone itself following an injury that exposes the bone to bacteria and other microorganisms. The risk of this condition is higher in women with diabetes. [9]

Osteomyelitis can cause significant damage to the bones making them weak. Intermittent fasting can help to reduce the risk of infections by improving the body’s ability to fight infections. It would enhance the functions of the immune cells allowing them to attack and destroy the microorganisms more efficiently. 

This could prevent infections in the bones and other tissues thus minimizing the risk of osteomyelitis. Additionally, intermittent fasting may also help to prevent osteomyelitis by controlling blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. 

Reduces osteoarthritis risk 

The prevalence of osteoarthritis increases markedly with advancing age. Obesity is a common precursor to osteoarthritis. [10]

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Research findings have implicated that intermittent fasting could help to support weight loss and reduce body mass index. Reduction in body weight would help to decrease the pressure exerted on the hips and knees and thus, slow down the wear and tear of these joints.  

It would help to reduce joint pain and improve joint mobility by controlling the degenerative changes in the bones and joints. Hence, intermittent fasting is considered beneficial for women at risk of osteoarthritis. 

Rheumatoid arthritis

Intermittent fasting may ameliorate the clinical manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis. It would also decrease the production of inflammatory mediators like cytokines, leukotrienes, and prostaglandins. 

Clinical research has revealed that intermittent fasting can relieve pain and stiffness in the joints and reduce the dependency on painkillers in women with rheumatoid arthritis. [11] [12]

Reduces low back pain 

Low back pain due to lumbar spondylosis is common in women above the age of 50 years. The incorrect posture while walking or standing and the reduced intake of calcium and vitamin D can contribute to the development of this condition. 

People who experience chronic back pain are sometimes advised to try intermittent fasting. It is believed to work by reducing weight and minimizing the pressure on the muscles and bones in the back. 

Research studies have indicated that intermittent fasting could also be beneficial who have suffered an injury to the back muscles or spinal cord. [13]

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Makes bone stronger 

Fasting may affect the secretion of the parathyroid hormone by the parathyroid glands. This hormone plays a vital role in improving bone health. [14

The normal levels of parathyroid hormone can help to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm and promote the metabolism of calcium and phosphate. This hormone can also enhance bone remodeling processes.

The findings of research studies have emphasized that fasting could play a role in regulating the secretion of parathyroid hormone. It would help to increase the availability of calcium and phosphate to the bones and speed up the bone remodeling processes. This would make the bones stronger and healthier. 

Prevents Fractures 

People who suffer from osteoporosis can try intermittent fasting to reduce their risk of fractures. Intermittent fasting could help them lose weight while preserving muscle mass. 

It would also promote the growth of the muscles by stimulating the secretion of the human growth hormone. The increased muscle mass would improve the ability of the muscles to support the bones during movements and help women maintain balance. This would help to prevent fractures caused due to a fall or injury. 

Supports cellular repair

Intermittent fasting is believed to work by enabling the processes involved in cellular repair. It can slow down the age-related degenerative changes occurring in the bones and also protect the bones against inflammatory damage. This could help to inhibit cancerous changes in the bones. [15]

Intermittent fasting can also promote autophagy, a process that involves the disintegration and removal of old and dysfunctional proteins built up in the tissues. By promoting autophagy, intermittent fasting would help the bones stay healthy and stronger. 

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When should women avoid intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is not suitable for all people. Women should avoid intermittent fasting if they are:

  • Pregnant
  • Breastfeeding 
  • Have a history of eating disorders 
  • Under chronic stress
  • Have difficulty in sleeping
  • Have severe gastritis or peptic ulcers

What are the precautions women need to take during intermittent fasting?

  • Start slowly with fewer hours of fasting per day to help the body get adapted to fasting
  • Make sure you consume foods rich in calcium and vitamin D
  • Avoid the consumption of high-carb, high-fat junk foods  
  • Increase your intake of fluids to maintain the body’s hydration
  • Exercise regularly to improve results 
  • Seek immediate medical attention in case you develop complications such as fainting

Conclusion

Intermittent fasting could offer a great way for people to improve their overall health. It can support the development of bones and help them avoid bone loss after menopause. 

Intermittent fasting may also help people avoid joint pains caused due to osteoarthritis and spondylosis by controlling their weight. The hormonal balance achieved through this form of diet could protect them against osteoporosis, osteopenia, and other bone health disorders. People are advised to follow intermittent fasting in combination with a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle to stay fit and active.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3680567/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3017674/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31023390
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6128599/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC329619/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4960941/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18360603/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23895687/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5394733/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4960941/#ref22
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2837251/
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/534318/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21219083/
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26445645/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3106288/

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