Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter.
Two interesting topics for discussion this month: intermittent fasting; and storing, handling, and reheating leftovers. I know, those two topics don’t seem to belong in the same newsletter, but let’s give it a go.
Let’s start with intermittent fasting.
I receive lots of questions about intermittent fasting. More and more, it’s a topic I see covered in the media. I use intermittent fasting in a way that works for me, but what I wanted to share today is some fascinating news about fasting. Not all the different protocols used but rather the science behind why it works. This information comes from an article recently published in the Johns Hopkins Magazine called Don’t Feed Your Head.
First, your brain makes up only 2% of your body weight but requires 20% of the calories we consume. Scientists are finding out, though, that it is actually better off when it’s deprived of food altogether. Let me explain.
Scientists at the National Institute on Aging say that depriving ourselves via fasting twice a week could significantly lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s.
For decades studies have shown a link between caloric intake and oxidative “rusting” (the stress on cells that comes when people get older and take in food). Mark Mattson, a professor of neuroscience, who has been studying Alzheimer’s and the brain for 20 years, says that one of the only ways to slow down the progression of aging that involves disease is to reduce energy intake—food.
These theories have been tested on animal models and on small groups of human subjects. Their findings are fascinating.
What they are discovering is that it’s good to submit your brain to challenges, especially in the short term. But why fasting? Wouldn’t reducing calorie intake overall also help the brain?
Scientists say apparently not, or at least not much.
There are many ways to use intermittent fasting but the protocol they have found that works is two days a week taking in no more than 500 calories a day. Mattson says this primes the brain for protection. Keeping calories around that level stimulates two messaging chemicals that operate at the cellular level. These chemicals are key to the growth of brain cells in animals and humans.
Mattson advises if people try this that they drink plenty of water or unsweetened tea and to eat no more than 500 calories per day via fiber rich foods. Also, please take note that fasting is not recommended for certain populations like the very young who need calories for growth or for people over 70, whose brains seem to derive little benefit from intermittent food deprivation.
Yes, fasting is shocking to your system but it also leads the brain to create new cells. Neurons grow, and the brain becomes more resistant to the effects of protein plaques that underlie cases of Alzheimer’s, or the damage inflicted by Parkinson’s. Fasting imposes stress, but in a good way, maintaining the brain and making it more adaptive.
It’s not news to us that diet has an effect on the brain. We eat fish because we’re told it’s brain food. We eat blueberries because they contain nutrients that help us remember things. For years children who suffer from epileptic seizures have fewer of them when placed on caloric restriction or fasts. And intermittent fasting is now being discussed for overall brain health.
As human evolution tells us, our ancestors had to go for long periods of time without food. When you’re hungry and search for food, the brain is really engaged. It’s the whole survival of the fittest concept and a healthy brain wins the game. There is much research being done on intermittent fasting and many different protocols suggested. If you’ve tried intermittent fasting and want to share your experiences, or want more information about it, send me an email and I’ll point you in the direction so you can start your own journey.
And now, on to leftovers; storing, handling and reheating them.
Which foods pack and reheat the best? Soups, chili, pastas, rice and grain salads are all good choices for packing and reheating as main meals the next day. Freezing, of course, extends the life expectancy of a meal even longer.
What are considered the best practices for handling and storing leftovers? Food safety begins with the original meal. First, make sure your food is cooked properly. Both for hot foods and cold foods, if not properly handled, bacteria grows quickly! Throw away all perishable foods like meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles that have been left at room temperature for over 2 hours (or discard after 1 hour if it’s hot, over 90 degrees F).
What to do if your food is in a large pot that takes longer that 2 hours to cool? Divide the food into smaller portions in shallow containers and then refrigerate them. You can actually do this with any larger item! And all leftovers should be wrapped or covered before refrigerating or freezing.
And when you’re ready to reheat and eat, reheat leftovers containing meat or poultry to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F. Use a food thermometer. Reheat sauces and soups by bringing them to a rolling boil.
After writing this month’s newsletter, I’m so confused I don’t know whether to make this an intermittent fasting day or reheat my leftovers for lunch!
I hope you find this information helpful and interesting and that you make July a month of lots of summertime MOVEMENT FUN with family and friends!