Can lifestyle changes help in reversing the ageing process?

The month of fasting may be over, but it's still a good entry point into an anti-ageing lifestyle

By Virendra Raj Singh

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Published: Wed 10 Apr 2024, 5:12 PM

Back in 2003, I was a young boy in my late teens and like most people my age, I desired a chiselled body and six-pack abs. So, I went to a gym and spoke to a coach who said it was simple: A few weeks of growth hormones plus steroids could do the trick. I may not have been the smartest cookie in town then but I certainly knew that I didn’t want to use unnatural means to a good body. This led me to more coaches and gyms and, unfortunately, most of them had the same advice.

In the summer of 2014, I had been reading about Ayurveda and came across the concept of intermittent fasting. It was a time when fasting would be associated only with religious customs. After years of eating four or five meals in a day, intermittent fasting seemed like a daunting prospect. The transition was far from easy. The first few days, I suffered hunger pangs, headaches and general irritability. With perseverance, however, I was able to overcome this and it became a part of my life when I saw the benefits.

Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. It not only helps in weight management, but gives your digestive cycle a much-needed break. As a result, you experience an improved heart health, reduced inflammation, enhanced brain function and improved insulin sensitivity.

It also has great anti-ageing benefits. Fasting induces a mild stress response in cells, which, in turn, activate pathways that are involved in DNA repair and maintenance through a process called autophagy, which is responsible for slowing down ageing.

This past month has been all about fasting. Ramadan also introduces us to a more advanced version called dry fasting when we do not even consume water. It is believed that a day of dry fasting is equal to three days of fasting on water when you compare the benefits. You become more mentally agile, and there is no better way to get rid of your caffeine addiction.

Where intermittent fasting often goes awry is when the eating window is used to consume junk en masse. It is important to note that moderation is key here. An even more important thing to be noted is that it is not for everyone — if you are diabetic or are pregnant or suffer from eating disorders, consult a healthcare professional before starting a fasting regimen.

Many years and lifestyle changes later, I do have those six pack abs I once dreamt about. But the key to achieving a good and healthy body and mind is discipline. While exercise became a part of my life, so did intermittent fasting.

Good health should not be a byproduct of shortcuts. Aim to move your body around and practice mindfulness when eating, and you will be on your way to look and feel the best.

Virendra Raj Singh is an ACE and ACSM-certified Coach

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