Exploring Intermittent Fasting

Update: February 14. I've been a month into this and it's only been partially successful. I've lost a few pounds, but I'm having problem with compliance. About 50% of the days, it's easy, the other days almost impossible. Can't recommend it yet, based on my own experience. Will report again in another month.


Update: February 5, 2017. I'm not sure this is a sustainable eating pattern for me. I'm able to do it only about 50% of the time. Will give it another month, but I'm not sure I'm a good candidate for it.

I’m experimenting with intermittent fasting to see if it has any impact on Parkinson’s symptoms. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s about a year ago and fortunately it’s very early stage with fairly minimal symptoms controllable by medications.


The problem with a medication-only approach is that Parkinson’s is an incurable progressive disease and that medications by themselves began to lose efficacy over time.


But there are strategies that a Parkinson’s patient can use to mitigate some of the symptoms. Exercise is one. Diet is potentially another. I’m trying both approaches since I’m at the very beginning of my Parkinson’s journey.


The exercise approach is fairly straightforward. Ideally you want to combine aerobic and weight training exercises plus activities that maintain balance such as yoga.


Dietary approaches are only recently being studied and there are no firm conclusions yet. However intermittent fasting and ketone diets are being researched. I’m starting with the intermittent fasting approach.


There is some evidence from limited animal and human testing that suggests intermittent fasting may have a beneficial effect on neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.


What is intermittent fasting? Essentially it’s a change in eating patterns. The method that I’m experimenting with is to limit food intake to a eight hour period from noon to 8 PM.


Although most people use intermittent fasting for weight loss purposes, I’m interested in the neurological effects.


Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s have been linked to low levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).  Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase BDNF by 50% to 400% depending on the area of the brain. While it’s too early to tell, due to the paucity of human studies, the impact on BDNF has wide ranging implications for increasing neuro-plasticity and regeneration of brain tissue.


I’m planning a 60 day trial of the approach to see if it is a workable lifestyle for me.  I don’t expect any particular neuro impact in that short period, but I do want to see if the diet is tolerable. If so, I’ll continue while we await further human testing. And I’ll probably have some needed weight loss which is just icing on the cake.


If intermittent fasting is something that works for me, I’ll then try a ketosis diet.  But that’s another post and at least a few months away.


I’ll report at the 30 and 60 day milestones to let you know my experience with the fasting approach.