By Mayukh Saha,
Recently, things that people have done for centuries for religious purposes or as cultural rituals, are being proven beneficial by science. One of the several things currently under scrutiny is the ritual of smudging, using incense, and other herbal essential herbs and twigs.
Another thing that has risen to the stature of useful traditional practices proven by science is the ritual of intermittent fasting. This is the practice of abstaining from food for considerable times. Muslims do it during Ramadan, for roughly 16-17 hours every day for a month. Hindus do it on special occasions for the entire day (on Shivaratri for example). Even Catholic Christians fast on special days in order to pay their respects to Christ’s abstinence.
Now, these things have been panned by the scientific community for years as hoaxes and superstitions. But recently, a study out of Harvard University stated how such practices like intermittent fasting can be helpful when it comes to delaying the normal ageing process of humans.
The study’s results were published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
The role of the cell’s mitochondria
Mitochondria are one of the most important and one of the most unique of cell organelles. Did you know that not only does the mitochondria produce energy in the cell, but also is the only way in which mankind’s entire matrilineal lineage can be traced?
Anyway, the effect of intermittent fasting that we are talking about has a lot to do with this particular tiny organelle.
The thing is, as food is ingested into the cell, it is respired; a process similar to burning fuel in order to produce heat. The mitochondria do this day in and day out by two processes, namely, glycolysis and the krebs cycle.
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Like all extremely sophisticated niche machines, this organelle too needs its rest. The experiment tested the ability of these organelles on a species of roundworms also called nematodes; this was done because they live only for two weeks which makes studying effects on ageing easier.
The study comprised restricting the diets of the subject worms. This made the worms’ mitochondria work much more efficiently and in a much more youthful way.
This necessarily means that respite from intermittent periods of fasting gives the mitochondria time to rejuvenate and work much more efficiently.
Better working mitochondria means a better and healthier body, because the better they work, the faster the metabolism and slower the ageing process.
So, when your more religious parents and grandparents fast and stay healthier than even you are, make sure to not taunt them about those ‘superstitions’. They probably aren’t.
You would actually want to get in on that fasting regimen ASAP if you want to be called the younger-looking one in the group.
Moreover, laying off the sugary soda and the oily fries and burgers is only going to help you. Losing a few inches of shirt-sizes is always desirable.
Cheers. Happy holidays!
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