What are the health benefits of fasting?
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What are the health benefits of fasting?
The other answers here well describe some of the many, many myriad benefits of fasting. I won’t repeat those points.
One significant missing point: cellular autophagy
Autophagy is the orderly degradation and recycling of cellular components, during fasting this process is accelerated towards complete elimination of intracellular oxidative wastes and cellular repair via exocytosis, ketosis, biosynthesis and a concurrent stimulation and renewal of stem cell growth.
Fasting has been additionally shown to create protective metabolic states for healthy cells during cancer and allopathic medical interventions (radiation, chemotherapy, etc.). One might infer cancer prevention from fasting as well. It is important to realize health benefits depend upon the metabolic states achieved by the deliberate choice of fasting practice applied.
There are two overlapping modes of fasting practiced today:
Hygienic fasting – often described as Intermittent Fasting (IF). This is the fasting practiced seasonally by most major religions and/or more often discussed as a lifestyle upgrade/shift, either alone or as complementing a diet upgrade intended to reduce weight and/or curb, reverse and restore a body under duress from chronic metabolic syndromes (e.g. pre-diabetes/T2D, insulin resistance, etc.).
Hygienic fasting is a recurring practice whether daily, weekly or annually during religious seasons.
Therapeutic fasting – is the several-thousand-year traditional wellness intervention. It is a deep convalescence of complete rest on water alone. Therapeutic fasting may be undertaken over a single period of days, weeks and even months. The point of such fasting is achieving significant baseline transformations in body/mind/soul–transformations that otherwise cannot be accomplished through shorter-term or periodic hygienic fasting.
The primary use of therapeutic fasting was widely practiced as a physiological “cure” from disease, illness and premature bodily decline – often evolving into a seasonal practice and/or singularly prescribed clinical intervention in order to achieve specific wellness/health/spiritual outcomes.
Therapeutic fasting as a widely known and revered health and medical practice has all but fallen out of professional repute by the mid-20th century, after most medical associations shifted industry standards to pharmaceutical-centric approaches and practices.
For an insight into how therapeutic fasting is being readopted into mainstream professional medical practice today, the following video presentations:
Professor James Mitchell, Boston (USA) Research Laboratory, Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases at Harvard University School of Public Health.
Valter Longo, Ph.D. Edna M. Jones Professor in Gerontology, Professor in Biological Science, Director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California (USC).
Honestly fasting is such a trendy topic now-a-days and the benefits of it get overblown with the same zealotry that many other popular ‘dieting strategies’ get overblown.
You can surely let people blow smoke up your ass about it if you want but good ol’ calorie restriction of any kind is going to be beneficial for you in the long run and you don’t have to fast to do that. If fasting makes that easier for you, then that’s a benefit of it. Otherwise, outside of calorie restriction it isn’t magical any more than any other dieting strategy or approach is magical.
I’m not saying do it or don’t do it, but merely that the benefits are well known via research on calorie restriction, not fasting. How you restrict calories overall doesn’t really seem to matter but most research on fasting hasn’t really been able to delineate any clear benefits other than calorie restriction (maybe hunger management in some people). If it doesn’t help you reach a deficit, it will be no more effective than what you’re doing now.
But what about autophagy you might say?
Sadly, this is far more complicated a process than most pushing it as a benefit of fasting realize. If it weren’t we’d all be centurions by now (fasting isn’t anything new) but aging is very complicated. In simplistic terms it’s the orderly degradation/recycling of cells, so we know it is related to aging, but to what extent we can’t yet be sure. Most of the research on it’s relation to longevity or cancer prevention are in mice and even then we don’t have much other than associations (as opposed to causations). We just don’t know…
If you’re really set on the idea though, exercise induces it, olive oil might induce it and once more basic simple calorie restriction is the main driver of it (not necessarily fasting).
But what about ketosis you might say?
Don’t eat carbs (or limit it to 50g) for 3 days, you’ll get the same effect. Actually ingest some exogenous ketones, do some glycogen depleting exercise and you’ll speed that process up well above and beyond abstaining from food. Not that ketosis is magical on it’s own anyway, unless you have epilepsy.
In humans, the research is scant and far from conclusive about many of the purported health benefits. i.e. A low fat/high carb diet and a low fat/keto diet both generally have the same health outcomes provided they aren’t the typical Western Diet. Hopefully this is sinking in by now but it won’t matter without a calorie deficit anyway on health or weight. You don’t magically lose weight just because you’re in ketosis, it’s just your body switching up energy metabolism in the absence of carbohydrates.
Beyond that, what ‘kind’ of fasting are you talking about here?
Ramadan? Vinaya? A Nativity Fast? Yom Kippour? Or any of the other hundred or so religious protocols of fasting? Water fasting? Pseudo-fasting?
Maybe you’re referring more to the recent dieting trend approaches like LeanGains? Warrior Diet? Alternate Day Fasting?
That changes the depth of the answer, as most research has been conducted on the religious types of fasting (done for religious ‘testing your faith’ reasons, not necessarily ‘health’ reasons, namely Ramadan) and yet most people try to apply it to popular intermittent fasting strategies. I’ll avoid religious fasting just because it’s a touchy subject and I don’t want to get into that kind of debate. I’ll keep it strict to research and ‘health’ benefits.
Other than I’m going to say that fasting completely (that is completely abstaining from food) for longer than 72 hours is probably inadvisable for your health and arguably anything longer than 24–36 hours is overkill anyway.
Fasting longer than 72 hours is linked with osteoporosis (bone loss) and in the long term lean mass loss. Yes resistance training and high protein intakes can help mitigate this but exercising at higher intensities (like resistance training) while glycogen depleted isn’t very fun. Power outputs are repeatedly shown to suffer with low carbohydrate intakes.
Ketosis will help preserve muscle mass and bone mass to an extent —the thing advocates miss is that this is only true when compared to normal tissue breakdown and synthesis rates; a fed state actually leads to considerably less total lean mass loss by comparison— but the lack of intake still means you see lean mass loss at roughly 3x the regular loss. Comparing the rate of turnover in a fed state to the rate of turnover in a fasted state is irrelevant (yet fasting gurus all do it) because the rate isn’t important, the actual loss is the thing that matters. Ketosis is part of a survival process that slows the rate of protein turnover to prevent starvation (anyone who says long term fasting isn’t the same thing as starvation doesn’t understand physiology) but the total loss/turnover is still greater than a fed state. The Minnesota Experiment showed long term detriment to lean mass from long-term semi-starvation in the 50’s and follow up work largely confirmed this, that’s why long term fasting protocols are no longer used in the medical community, and haven’t been really since the 80’s. In already lean individuals, there is the very real risk of death in as little as 10–15 days without food. The larger you are the longer this can generally be drawn out but it should ALWAYS be medically supervised.
What other research has been done on fasting is usually done in animals and just doesn’t translate to humans.
To be clear there is a dearth of research on new forms of intermittent fasting in humans —though plenty on starvation, which as I said is the same thing as long term fasting, and why I recommend sticking to intermittent approaches, they are just safer and don’t need to be medically supervised— because it wouldn’t benefit anyone willing to pay for research to be conducted.
The researchwe do have seems to indicate there are two main benefits:
- Can lead to energy restriction
- Can help some people manage hunger cues/follow their diet
Most of the ‘health’ benefits appear to be attributable to basic calorie restriction and the mere act of losing some fat mass (that usually results from calorie restriction). There is a lot of data suggesting that calorie restriction and fat loss alone (not to mention exercise) can alter hormone profiles for the better, improve glucose metabolism, improve hunger, improve cardiometabolic risk factors, etc…
To quote the review I linked to above :
While intermittent fasting appears to produce similar effects to continuous energy restriction to reduce body weight, fat mass, fat-free mass and improve glucose homeostasis, and may reduce appetite, it does not appear to attenuate other adaptive responses to energy restriction or improve weight loss efficiency, albeit most of the reviewed publications were not powered to assess these outcomes. Intermittent fasting thus represents a valid–albeit apparently not superior–option to continuous energy restriction for weight loss.
In other words it performs pretty much the same as any other form of calorie restriction. It’s a valid way to achieve this if you so desire. I’d avoid anyone claiming it to be ‘transformational’ or other sensationalist guru-esque language I see surrounding it.
If you’re an active, normal weight individual with a “good” general diet (i.e. not the standard American diet or standard western diet); It’s probably doubtful that fasting will do anything for you from a health perspective that any other form of calorie restriction wouldn’t already provide. Fasting while consuming junk foods between fasts, will still likely have health detriments, even with fat loss or energy restriction.
The researchers did note that while some people get very hungry and it can disrupt hunger sensations in the short-term, in other people it does seem to help other people modulate hunger in the long-term. The reason is unknown at this time but managing hunger is an important part of any diet, especially one geared for fat loss. Interestingly enough one of the benefits of eating more frequently is similar; Blunted/controlled perception of hunger.
This paper found similar findings. Basically if calorie restriction is present, you get the benefits, if it isn’t, you don’t; Doesn’t matter if you do that by fasting or not.
Any benefits on cognition are actually unknown at the moment.At least when you look at the research done. This paper wrote:
“…depending on the type of IF, cognitive function and physical performance could be either improved or negatively impacted. Several studies have demonstrated that long-term food restriction was associated with impairments in cognitive function, including poor performance on a sustained attention task. However, other studies have shown that memory performance significantly improved during fasting. In the investigation of the mechanisms by which dietary restriction acts on cognitive function and to determine how these diets work, further detailed and unified research studies are necessary.”
Like most papers on fasting ‘more research is needed.’ This review paper couldn’t find a single randomized control study on the long-term health implications of fasting. Actually a more appropriate term would be ‘a lot more’ research is needed. There might be some mild HGH increases that might theoretically improve fat loss in some people with some protocols. The effects are probably very minor. It might be useful for adjusting circadian rhythm while travelling but that’s probably related to the fasting you already do while sleeping. I repeatedly use the word might because anyone that tells you for certain that fasting does X, ‘according to research,’ hasn’t looked at much research, they’ve simply molded research to fit pre-existing beliefs. That’s the guru-mentality I’d caution people to avoid.
The benefits of fasting as a unique and singular entity (outside of calorie restriction that it often causes) are nothing dramatic at best and at worst a terrible way to spend a Sunday.
For the record I’m not really for or against it. What I’m against is zealotry and dogma and frankly those are rampant when people talk about fasting. I’ve used it successfully with clients (because it helps them adhere to a diet that takes them in the direction they want to go) and I’ve seen it fail in clients who wanted to give it a go too. If it creates a deficit and it’s something you can stick with it can help. Try it out with an open mind but know what the beneficial mechanism actually is — calorie restriction.
Notice also that I’ve linked to several actual research papers, something I’ve noticed few other answers have.
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Fasting offers several health benefits. A few are described below:
1. Fasting is an excellent tool for weight loss- There have been studies that support fasting as an excellent tool for weight loss. In one study, non obese patients lost an average of 4% of total fat when they fasted alternately for a 22 day period. It must also be noted that their fasting insulin levels also decreased. In another study conducted on obese individuals, fasting, meaning consuming only 25% of their daily calorie needs yielded an average 5.5 pound weight loss in an eight week period. 3% of body fat was also lost, along with a decrease in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
2. Fasting promotes the secretion of Human Growth Hormone, which is important for burning fat. Fasting can also promote muscle building, while decreasing insulin levels. When you combine all of these, fasting can in fact, transform the human body into an effective fat burning machine.
3. Fasting may be good for athletes – Fasting has been found to have good effects on body mass as well as other health markers in professional athletes. This is because, as previously mentioned, fasting can effectively shed excess fat, while optimize muscle growth, because of the production of HGH. Athletes are advised to consume high quality protein half an hour after finishing their workouts to simultaneously build muscle and reduce fat. Fasting is advised for training days, while athletes are encouraged to eat on game days.
4. Fasting is great for normalizing insulin sensitivity- When your body gets too much carbs and sugar, it can become insulin resistant, which will then lead the way to a host of chronic diseases. If you don’t want to go down this route, then you’ve got to keep your body sensitive to insulin. Fasting is an effective way to do this. When insulin sensitivity is up, you can better prevent diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart complications
5. Fasting can normalize ghrelin levels- What is ghrelin? It is actually also known as the hunger hormone, because it is responsible for telling your body that it is hungry. When you fast, the ghrelin levels in your body normalizes, so it actually becomes more accurate in telling you if you should really eat, or leave off having a snack until later.
6. Lowering triglyceride levels- When you consume too much cholesterol, your triglyceride levels may shoot up, making you more prone to heart disease. Fasting has been known to decrease levels of bad cholesterol in the body, which means that it also decreases the formation of triglycerides. Another interesting thing to note is that fasting does nothing to the levels of good cholesterol of HDL in the body.
7. Fasting can slow down the aging process- As previously mentioned, fasting can cause the body to produce more Human Growth Hormone. This hormone is actually closely connected to the aging process. When the body produces less HGH, it tends to age faster too. So in effect, it is safe to conclude that fasting can help the body age more slowly.
What are the health benefits of fasting?
Several research studies were done on laboratory animals and humans.
Results are mildly to overwhelmingly surprising.
One man went for more than one year on total fasting under strict medical supervision.
This is not new.
Famous Banting (whose name is used for Banting diet) was a famouse British Undertaker. One of the famous doctors of that era advised him to go on a special diet, he did it, was successful, published a book about it. Please search for him on the Net. This was not a complete fast.
Then scientists did experiments with laboratory animals and noted prolonged, more active life, all physiological and biochemical parametres were better.
Finally two main critical points crystalized:
Being active and being in constant semi-starvation leads directly to prolonged healthy longevity.
My comment: When did you see a really fat and really old man? You didn’t? That’s because they died long before they could have reached old age.
There are two ways to start fasting. The first one is not good and I call it “castaway fasting”. So, you’re unlucky and you find yourself on a small island with no food. So, you fast! You have severe hunger pangs and are very unhappy!
The second and better way is to slowly reduce carbs in your diet and after 2–3 weeks go for a 24 hours fast. If everything goes as it should you will feel exhilarated, “high”, happy, clear-minded.
Then you can experiment with longer fasts.
I wouldn’t recommend more than seven days because our bodies needs microelements, electrolytes, vitamins, fiber, and, eventually, essential amino and fatty acids. Carbs are macronutrients (they’re plenty, easily available, cheap, popular, are staple food in many cultures, etc) but they are not vital for our survival. We can survive without carbs very easily because the minimum amount of carbs our red blood cells and brain needs our bodies produce.
When you stop eating food (and continue drinking only plain water – so-called water fast) your body first uses glucose that’s in the blood and other tissues. This situation can go for some time and eventually all of the glucose has entered the cells and was metabolised.
Then our bodies start to use glycogen from the liver and muscles. Glycogen is a storage compound for glucose.
After some time that get used too and our bodies start to use fats.
Somewhere down the line our bodies have to use structural proteins.
It’s being said that we can survive 5 minutes without air, 5 days without water, 55 days without food.
Those are just rough numbers.
Irish prisoners on hunger strikes survived up to 66 days.
This man had survived more than one year, etc.
It was noted that our bodies get cleansed (for the want of a better term) on total water fast.
Overall positive effects are such that most authorities advise some sort of fasting.
The myths like “cholesterol myth”, “low-fat is good!”, 5–6 meals per day, etc, are basically debunked.
Fasting is good because we lose some weight, our bodies rejuvenate, our minds function much better, and it’s even good for overall household economy (monies can be saved in carefully prepared fasting regimens).
A mention should be made of religiously induced fasting.
Ramadan can be described as a prolonged period of intermittent fasting sessions.
Quite a number of Christian churches do prolonged fasting periods and one day fasts too.
Anecdotally (and I will need comments from people experienced in this) fasting combined with religious routines, praying, meditation, etc, leads to a higher level of spiritual feelings.
Finally, various types of fasting regimens are being investigated for beneficial effects in the treatment of epilepsy, metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, diabetes, etc.
The first thing to notice is that we Muslims fast because we were told to , by the God , and we also were told that it’s a good thing for us , as in surah Al baqarrah verse 184 :
[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.
Here are some of these benefits :
1. Fasting Helps Weight Loss
Fasting can be a safe way to lose weight as many studies have shown that intermittent fasting – fasting that is controlled within a set number of hours – allows the body to burn through fat cells more effectively than just regular dieting.
Intermittent fasting allows the body to use fat as it’s primary source of energy instead of sugar. Many athletes now use fasting as means to hitting low body fat percentages for competitions.
2. Fasting Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Fasting has shown to have a positive effect on insulin sensitivity, allowing you to tolerate carbohydrates (sugar) better than if you didn’t fast. A study showed that after periods of fasting, insulin becomes more effective in telling cells to take up glucose from blood.
3. Fasting Speeds Up The Metabolism
Intermittent fasting gives your digestive system a rest, and this can energise your metabolism to burn through calories more efficiently. If your digestion is poor, this can effect your ability to metabolise food and burn fat. Intermittent fasts can regulate your digestion and promote healthy bowel function, thus improving your metabolic function.
4. Fasting Promotes Longevity
Believe it or not, the less you eat the longer you will live. Studies have shown how the lifespan of people in certain cultures increased due to their diets. However, we don’t need to live amongst a foreign community to reap the benefits of fasting. One of the primary effects of ageing is a slower metabolism, the younger your body is, the faster and more efficient your metabolism. The less you eat, the less toll it takes on your digestive system.
5. Fasting Improves Hunger
Just think about this, can you actually experience real hunger if you eat a meal every 3-4 hours? Of course you can’t. In fact, to experience the true nature of hunger, this would take anything from 12 to even 24 hours.
Fasting helps to regulate the hormones in your body so that you experience what true hunger is. We know that obese individuals do not receive the correct signals to let them know they are full due excessive eating patterns.
Think of fasting as a reset button: the longer you fast, the more your body can regulate itself to release the correct hormones, so that you can experience what real hunger is. Not to mention, when your hormones are working correctly, you get full quicker.
6. Fasting Improves Your Eating Patterns
Fasting can be a helpful practice for those who suffer with binge eating disorders, and for those who find it difficult to establish a correct eating pattern due to work and other priorities.
With intermittent fasting going all afternoon without a meal is okay and it can allow you to eat at a set time that fits your lifestyle. Also, for anyone who wants to prevent binge eating, you can establish a set time in where you allow yourself to eat your daily amount of calories in one sitting, and then not eat till the following day.
7. Fasting Improves Your Brain Function
Fasting has shown to improve brain function, because it boosts the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF.)
BDNF activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. This protein also protects your brain cells from changes associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
8. Fasting Improves Your Immune System
Intermittent fasting improves the immune system because it reduces free radical damage, regulates inflammatory conditions in the body and starves off cancer cell formation.
In nature, when animals get sick they stop eating and instead focus on resting. This is a primal instinct to reduce stress on their internal system so their body can fight off infection. We humans are the only species who look for food when we are ill, even when we do not need it.
9. Fasting Contributes To Self-Enlightenment
Fasting has helped many people feel more connected to life during the practices reading, meditation, yoga and martial arts etc. With no food in the digestive system, this makes room for more energy in the body – the digestive is one of the most energy absorbing systems in the body.
Fasting for self-enlightenment, allows us to feel better both consciously and physically. With a lighter body and a clearer mind we become more aware and grateful for the things around us.
10. Fasting Helps Clear The Skin And Prevent Acne
Fasting can help clear the skin because with the body temporarily freed from digestion, it’s able to focus its regenerative energies on other systems.
Not eating anything for just one day has shown to help the body clean up the toxins and regulate the functioning of other organs of the body like liver, kidneys and other parts.
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IsOur body evolved over billions of years from single cell to a complex human being. Along the way nature designed it to work with highest efficiency while also sustaining and growing during difficult encounters.
The primary fuel of energy in our body is glucose and the metabolism ultimately becomes common for glucose, proteins and fats.
When the food is available, the body stores it. When it is not available, the body uses the stored energy to supply for the needs. Because many functions like the brain, heart, kidneys, immune system, lungs etc needs energy for continuous working. If any of them stops, we are dead.
Body does it very efficiently.
- Fat is the best way to store energy because it uses the least space and gives maximum energy. 1 gm of fat provides 9 kcal of energy compared to 4 kcal from carbohydrates or proteins.
- Body stores fat close to the liver. Since liver is the one to make fat and also break fat. So a person putting in weight always puts on weight around the tummy because it is easily accessible to liver. Efficiency at its best.
A lot of people who come to me for weight reduction tell me, sir I am slim otherwise, it’s just the tummy. The problem is the tummy.
Since the body has stored fat for rainy days, it doesn’t want to give it up easily. It’s like a fixed deposit in the bank which you wouldn’t want to liquidate untill you are left with no option.
We try to reduce our expenses, increase our income even borrow from others but not to liquidate the FD.
So next time you are upset that you are not losing weight, remember it is the FD.
If you stay hungry, the body tries to save everything it gets by converting to fat and parallely reducing energy expenses.
One wat to reduce energy expenditure is by making you lethargic. We all feel tired when we fast right ?
The problem is that most people feel tired all the time. It is because of their hormones which have become such that people feel hungry and tired all the time.
Our body is designed to put on fat when we eat and burn fat in between. But the problem is that there is no in between these days. Life is full of abundance and there is no hard work that we are designed to do.
Fasting is not only part of our evolution pathway, it is now even a necessity that has arised for our well being.
How does fasting help ?
Fasting is now found to be anti cancerous too. When our body is under energy stress, it tries to eliminate all inefficiencies. Cancer cells being the most inefficient cells in the body are rationed first.
Cancer cells produce very less energy per glucose molecule compared to normal cells. They are the first target when we fast.
Our organs like pancreas and liver have to work very hard to digest and absorb the continuous supply of food that we provide our body. Our organs are very stressed and over burdened.
People think fatty liver is a normal phenomenon because 8/10 people have it. It is common but not normal. Don’t confuse between the two.
It is a simple logic that when you have hormones that make fat you won’t have hormones that break fat and vice versa.
So during fasting your hormones that make fat vanish from your body.
I have reversed cancer even in last stages for a lot of people. And fasting has been one of the key things. Along with fasting we applied a lot of other therapeutics and all of them played their crucial role.
Fasting is not an answer for every remedy but can help in many ways.
You need to know what your body needs, prepare your body for fasting and then do it. Randomly doing anything can be harmful and is not advisable.
Do it under guidance.
Most importantly when you fast aim for health and not for weight loss. Weight loss will be an automatic outcome but the focus should be placed entirely on the process.
Don’t get stressed about the weight loss, enjoy the journey.
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For the sake 7% of the world’s population that denies the presence of any deities this article might convince them to fast. For the rest of the population, a spiritual aspect associated with fast is enough for them to continue this ritual of ‘Fasting’.
According to the Medical News Today, numerous studies have suggested that intermittent fasting – abstaining or reducing food and drink intake periodically – can be good for us, making it one of the most popular diet trends worldwide.
Here are some of the reasons to include fast in your dieting schedule:
Fasting helps to lose weight
As the body absorbs fat which it reserves for the situation like this. Lower level of insulin combined with increase in growth hormone and sending of norepinephrine by the nervous system to fat cells results in the fat to dissolve in absorbable energy. Thus it results in weight loss.
Reduces Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance means the resistance of cells to the function of insulin of converting glucose in energy rather than storing it as a fat. To put it simply fasting improves the insulin sensitivity, maintaining the normal function of insulin intact and reducing sugar level in blood thus saving us from Type-2 Diabetes.
Improves the Metabolism
Toxic and Waste accumulated over a period of time due to eating is cleansed due to fasting. While the digestion system is resting during fast, the metabolism is energized to perform better. Normally fasting also improves digestive system helping us for better bowel movements. And who doesn’t wants to have a great start of the day?
Beneficial to heart
Cholesterol levels in body, blood pressure, Triglyceride and Inflammation are all risk factors for heart and by fasting, all can be controlled and indirectly that keeps us away from heart disease.
Increases the Life Span
It’s simply can be understand by the benefits that fasting provides us by keeping heart related and other diseases away. Also fasting also increases levels of chaperone proteins which is responsible for protein folding. Metabolism has direct relation with age, so when age increases Metabolism decreases. Thus if you eat less it would take less toll on metabolism and hence our lifespan. So eat less to live more.
It’s good for Brain
Research shows that fasting reduces oxidative stress and increase levels of Brain-derived neurotrophic factor(BDNF). BDNF is vital in supporting existing neurons and encourage the growth of new neurons. It holds a helpful part in long-term memory.
Image Source: AksharRaj
I will share my accidental encounter with fasting.
Month of February. Somewhere in Eastern India.
My family was going through one of the roughest emotional patches.
Naturally, we were making it through the day with a lot of mental turmoil and less of the productive daily work.
Hunger wasn’t at the top of my mind. Very unusual times I tell you!
I hadn’t really eaten for 5 days in a row.
- I would mostly drink water.
- Had a sandwich after day 2 and 5.
Overall, I was on a “water fast” for roughly 4 days.
- Lost noticeable amount of fat from my face and belly regions.
- I slept better
- I was feeling lighter
- Had more stamina and energy
- My fasting sugar level was 100 (generally its a 150)
- My facial skin looked cleaner
On googling, I found my body had entered the process called KETOSIS.
The human body gets energy through glucose present in food we consume as a source of power.
The human body can function normally using ‘ketones’ as its power source too.
Ketones are produced when accumulated fat in the body is broken down. This process is called Ketosis.
No food in the body == No source of glucose == Body will need an alternate energy source == Ketosis initiated.
You’re body is lazy too. Long as there is a steady supply of glucose, it will not initiate ketosis.
Taking motivation from this welcome surprise, I have incorporating fasting into my lifestyle.
Fun fact: The fat in your body just don’t sit there. They sit on top of toxins, granting them immobility. Not only will you lose weight, fasting is a great way of flushing out the toxins too.
With so many variants of fasting, I’d encourage everyone to find your idle fit and start with 1 complete day a week. It’s very important to stay hydrated alongside. Nothing fancy needed. Plain filtered drinking water.
Happy Health Amigos!
Fasting can be done in many ways. A complete fasting is normally defined as the refraining from all the food and water for a specific period of time. Then there is fasting where you only consume water. There are many other types of fasting which are restrictive in terms of food to consume, water intake and time duration.
Some of the Health Benefits of Fasting:
1. Fasting Helps To Lose Weight
Studies have shown that fasting for limited time duration helps to lose body weight. During fasting the body absorbs the fat which is reserved in the body. Lower level of insulin combined with increase in growth hormones and increase in the level of norepinephrine contribute to the breakdown of body fats into absorbable energy. This is the reason why many athletes fast to lose body fat percentages for competitions.
2. Reduces Insulin Resistance
Fasting has shown to have positive effect on insulin sensitivity. When your body gets too many carbs and sugar, it can become insulin resistant. Fasting helps you to secrete less insulin, maintaining the normal function of insulin intact and reducing the blood sugar level. Fasting thus lowers your risk from Type-2 Diabetes.
3. Improves Brain Function
Fasting boosts the level of protein called BDNF (brain – derived neurotrophic factor) which has shown to improve the performance of brain. BDNF encourages the growth of new neurons and chemicals that promote neural health. BDNF protects against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Studies have also shown that fasting increases the growth of new nerve cells in the brain. These cells improve your brain functions.
4. Increases Your Lifespan
It’s a matter of fact, the less you eat the less toll it takes on your digestive system. As you grow older your metabolism increases. If you eat less your metabolism will be fast and efficient and you will look much younger. Fasting also improves your brain functions, keeps your heart healthy and keeps disease away; thus naturally increasing your lifespan. Studies conducted on mice showed that the mice that fasted lived up to 83% more than those that didn’t.
For more: Health benefits of fasting
- Lose quick weight
This is one of the biggest benefits of 72 hours of water fasting, you can lose weight quickly. You are consuming zero calories during fasting and you end up burning more, which leads to weight loss.
Research shows that you may lose up to 2 pounds (0.9 kg) each day during a 24- to 72-hour water fast. So if you keeping fast for 72 hours, u can end up losing 6 pounds in 3 days.
Autophagy means your body gets into a process in which your body starts using older cells or damaged cells which was already stored in your body to regenerate new cells. According to some studies it can protect from heart disease and cancer.
Fasting is a good way to detox your body. It helps in removing toxins from the body and reboot the system. lemon water fasting is a popular way of detoxing your body, where you use lemon juice in water.
- Extend life span
Some studies say that 72 hours of water fasting is helpful in anti-aging and autophagy, which can result in a long life span.
- Help in Lower blood pressure
Many studied proved that keeping fasts in a safe way for a longer period can help in lowering the blood pressure.
- Improve insulin
Insulin is one of the most important hormones that are related to the metabolism of the body. Insulin helps the body to restore nutrients from the bloodstream. Fasting makes the body more sensitive to insulin, which is good for metabolism.
Well, this benefit might attract your attention as fasting have some anti-aging benefits. It helps in keeping your body younger.
- Boost metabolism
There is no doubt that fasting helps in boosting metabolism. We know, Low metabolism is related to weight gain. So by fasting, one can boost their metabolism, and it can help in losing weight.
- Decrease inflammation
According to studies, fasting can help in decreasing inflammation. As per researches, inflammation is involved in developing health problems like heart disease or cancer.
- Low appetite
As you introduce fasting to your body, it slowly adapts it and your appetite becomes very low. As a result, you don’t feel hungry every now and then and don’t consume unnecessary calories which will result in weight gain.
But do you think fasting just have benefits and doesn’t have cons?
Read the side effects of water fasting for a better experience.
FIRST OF ALL SALAM AND PEACE FROM US !!!
Defined as the abstinence from all or some foods or drinks for a set period of time, there are many different ways of fasting
Fasting has been shown to have many health benefits, from increased weight loss to better brain function.
— backed by science.
HERE ARE BENEFITS OF FASTING..
1. Promotes Blood Sugar Control by Reducing Insulin Resistance
Several studies have found that fasting may improve blood sugar control, which could be especially useful for those at risk of diabetes.
In fact, one study in 10 people with type 2 diabetes showed that short-term intermittent fasting significantly decreased blood sugar levels
Meanwhile, another review found that both intermittent fasting and alternate-day fasting were as effective as limiting calorie intake at reducing insulin resistance
Decreasing insulin resistance can increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin, allowing it to transport glucose from your bloodstream to your cells more efficiently.
Keep in mind though that some studies have found that fasting may impact blood sugar levels differently for men and women.
For instance, one small, three-week study showed that practicing alternate-day fasting impaired blood sugar control in women but had no effect in men
SUMMARY Intermittent fasting and alternate-day fasting could help decrease blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance but may affect men and women differently.
2. Promotes Better Health by Fighting Inflammation
While acute inflammation is a normal immune process used to help fight off infections, chronic inflammation can have serious consequences for your health.
Research shows that inflammation may be involved in the development of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis
Some studies have found that fasting can help decrease levels of inflammation and help promote better health.
One study in 50 healthy adults showed that intermittent fasting for one month significantly decreased levels of inflammatory markers.
Another small study discovered the same effect when people fasted for 12 hours a day for one month
What’s more, one animal study found that following a very low-calorie diet to mimic the effects of fasting reduced levels of inflammation and was beneficial in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, a chronic inflammatory condition
Some studies have found that fasting could decrease several markers of inflammation and may be useful in treating inflammatory conditions, such as multiple sclerosis.
3. May Enhance Heart Health by Improving Blood Pressure, Triglycerides and Cholesterol Levels
Heart disease is considered the leading cause of death around the world, accounting for an estimated 31.5% of deaths globally
Switching up your diet and lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Some research has found that incorporating fasting into your routine may be especially beneficial when it comes to heart health.
One small study revealed that eight weeks of alternate-day fasting reduced levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and blood triglycerides by 25% and 32% respectively
Another study in 110 obese adults showed that fasting for three weeks under medical supervision significantly decreased blood pressure, as well as levels of blood triglycerides, total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol
In addition, one study in 4,629 people associated fasting with a lower risk of coronary artery disease, as well as a significantly lower risk of diabetes, which is a major risk factor for heart disease
SUMMARY Fasting has been associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease and may help lower blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
4. May Boost Brain Function and Prevent Neurodegenerative Disorders
Though research is mostly limited to animal research, several studies have found that fasting could have a powerful effect on brain health.
One study in mice showed that practicing intermittent fasting for 11 months improved both brain function and brain structure (12 Trusted Source).
Other animal studies have reported that fasting could protect brain health and increase the generation of nerve cells to help enhance cognitive function (13 Trusted Source, 14 Trusted Source).
Because fasting may also help relieve inflammation, it could also aid in preventing neurodegenerative disorders.
In particular, studies in animals suggest that fasting may protect against and improve outcomes for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s
However, more studies are needed to evaluate the effects of fasting on brain function in humans.
SUMMARY Animal studies show that fasting could improve brain function, increase nerve cell synthesis and protect against neurode generative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s.
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