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Exploring the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Exploring the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Local Oncologist Offers Tips for Eating That Can Improve Longevity

You may have heard about intermittent fasting. It’s been touted as an effective weight-loss strategy, and research is showing there may be even more health benefits.

Fasting is when you don’t eat for a prolonged period of time. Intermittent fasting is the practice of not eating for a prolonged period of time on a regular basis, generally avoiding food for 13 to 18 hours a day, or for one to two full days a week.

“Intermittent fasting is one of several types of strategies for eating that have shown to have beneficial effects on health,” said Dr. Matthew Tenold, a local oncologist and hematologist who treats patients at the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center in Fremont. “Fasting has deep cultural and religious roots and has been adopted as a creative way to promote weight loss and general health, and recent research indicates it could be beneficial for fighting cancer.”

Dr. Tenold will focus on the benefits of intermittent fasting when he presents “Intermittent Fasting for Longevity” on Wednesday, Aug. 10, at 3:30 p.m. The free seminar will take place on Facebook and YouTube. For more information or to register, visit or call 800.963.7070.

Dr. Tenold will explain how restricting the amount of calories you eat impacts your body. For example, when you fast, insulin levels drop and human growth hormone (HGH) increases. Higher levels of HGH can help build muscle mass, boost metabolism, burn fat, and promote healthy tissue in the brain and other organs, according to Dr. Tenold.

He will also discuss some of the recent research on intermittent fasting. There are a number of studies that show it could help reduce the risk for cancer and may even reduce the harmful side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

“Some trials showed higher energy levels in people who fast,” he added. “A lot of people felt less fatigued, so it could be good for some patients who have undergone surgery, chemotherapy or other endeavors that have weakened them. It seems to boost the recovery process.”

Healthy Diet

What you eat is as important as when you eat, he added. Dr. Tenold will offer some tips for healthy eating.

“A vegetarian diet or Mediterranean diet are the gold standard,” he said. “It’s really about eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, and minimizing breads and starches. It’s important to eat foods that are high in omega-3 because they help reduce inflammation. Fish like wild-caught salmon are high in omega-3. It’s one of the best kinds of fish you can eat. But stay away from farmed tilapia.”

Some fish like farmed tilapia as well as conventionally raised meats are too high in omega-6. Omega-6 fuels inflammatory pathways in the body and may increase the risk of cancer and heart disease, according to Dr. Tenold.

“You need to have a good balance between omega-3 and omega-6,” he explained. “If you plan to eat meat, grass-fed beef is actually a better choice than something like farmed tilapia. Grass-fed meats are higher in omega-3 and lower in omega-6.”

Dr. Tenold will also touch on the topic of blue zones, which are regions of the world thought to have a higher than usual number of people who live much longer than average.

“These include places like Sardinia, Italy, and Okinawa, Japan,” he added. “A lot of it stems from their dietary choices. Their diets are primarily vegetarian. But it also comes from having a strong sense of community and having continuous light activity built into the day naturally. Heavy exercise appears to be less important than simply keeping moving.”

For more information about programs and services at Washington Hospital that can improve your health, visit To learn about the UCSF - Washington Cancer Center or other services for cancer patients at Washington Hospital, visit

To watch “Intermittent Fasting for Longevity” seminar on our YouTube InHealth channel, click here.