Fasting has had cultural and religious importance since centuries. It is a practice fo abstain from eating or drinking anything for a set period of time.
Health Benefits of Fasting Based on Science
There is a lot of evidence backed up by science to prove the health benefits of fasting.
Controls Blood Sugar
Fasting is known to reduce insulin resistance thereby controlling blood sugar levels. It is way if limiting calorie intake. Intermittent fasting has a similar role in reducing insulin resistance which improves the body’s ability to utilize glucose.
Fasting has a positive impact on blood sugar levels as it does not allow random spikes. However, fasting may have a different impact for men and women. A study observed impaired blood sugar levels in women as compared to men who had no effect.
Inflammation can cronically affect the immune system and may become the cause for heart disease and cancer. Arthritis can also be the outcome of inflammation. Fasting has significant effect on reducing inflammation as it improves overall health.
A study was carried out on adults in which inflammation levels were measured after a month of fasting. Reduced inflammation markers were observed as a result.
Controls Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels
Heart disease is the worldwide leading cause of death which can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle. Fasting has been observed to have beneficial effects on the heart as it reduces bad cholesterol levels. Also, it reduces blood pressure.
Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and fasting can benefit both the conditions simultaneously.
Improves Brain Function
Brain function and structure is also known to have benefits through intermittent fasting a according to a study carried out on mice. More studies have shown improvements by protecting brain function as well as cognitive function.
As a result of improved brain function with increased generation of cells, many neurodegenerative disorders can be prevented including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Controls Weight by Limiting Calorie Intake
Fasting is a quick and easy way of limiting calorie intake to lose weight. Fasting can boost metabolism as an enhancement in weight loss.
It decreases body fat mass by 16% whereas body weight loss is 8%. All this is achieved by preservation of muscle tissue which makes fasting better than any other calorie restriction diet plan.
Helps Secrete Growth Hormone
Growth hormone performs many vital functions in the body including regulating metabolism, weight loss, growth, and building muscle strength.
Fasting has shown natural improvements in the secretion of growth hormone which eventually benefits all the related functions.
Fasting is linked with improved blood sugar and insulin regulation in the body which thereby optimizes production of the growth hormone.
Delays Aging Process
Fasting has benefits for the overall immune system which improves health. All these factors can significantly improve lifespan according to studies carried out on animals. However, there is still lack of evidence for humans to provw fasting effects on extending survival rates.
Studies were carried out in animals to prove the effectiveness of fasting on cancer cells. Exposure of cancer cells delayed the growth of tumor which was a similar effect to chemotherapy drugs. However, these findings are still limited to animals and more evidence is required to prove the influence on humans.
How is Fasting Done?
People opt for different types of fasting according to their preference. It is recommended to try and see what suits your body best. Experimenting will allow you to see which type is adjustable to your lifestyle. The most common types of fasting are discussed below.
Water is the only drink you may take for a period of time omitting any foods.
This type of fasting involves restriction of certain foods including processed foods, caffeine based foods, and animal products.
Fresh Vegetable juices and fruit juices are allowed during juice fasting.
Food intake is restricted on a few days for a set period of time. The intake is restricted for a few hours with normal diet resumption for the rest of the days.
This involves restricting calories for some days of the week. This type of fasting can also prove to be beneficial as there is limited calorie intake.
Are there any Side Effects of Fasting?
Fasting may not be suitable for everyone despite of several health benefits it serves most people with. For example, diabetics may have blood sugar spikes during fasting which is not safe for their health.
Therefore, it is always better to consult a doctor and see if fasting will be a suitable option for your health condition. Moreover, water intake should be sufficient to keep your body well hydrated when you are up to fasting.
Dehydration is the common issue when people fast as they do not drink plenty of fluids to fulfil their body requirement. Dehydration is also linked to having headaches.
Fasting may also be difficult for people used to having meals throughout the day. This can increase their stress levels as their body is not used to restricting food intake over a set period of time. Also, heartburn can result when their is reduced production of stomach acid
You should be taking a nutrient rich diet during the time you are allowed to eat.
Spiritual Effects of Fasting on Mind and Body
Fasting is practiced religiously in different cultures which adds to their spiritual benefits. It is as act of discipline which makes an individual control all his worldly desires.
Fasting is done to achieve a higher power which is much greater than the Earthly things. You must fight with your inner self to attain as much rewards as you can through fasting. Overall, it is a healthy practice for your mind and body.
While most people fast according to their spiritual beliefs, fasting has been adopted as routine as a way to achieve health benefits as well. The most prominent effect of fasting is the utilization of glucose stores after which fat is burnt for weight loss.
During fasting, the digestive system is at rest and the human body focuses on removing toxins. In the meantime, the gut lining strengthens itself to improve overall gut health. The mental well being gets a boost as other risk factors including dementia, depression, and anxiety are sidelined.
Proper and healthy fasting methods have always made people embrace several health benefits. Losing body fat while gaining lean muscle mass is also among the significant benefits achieved through fasting.