Eh.. Fasting? You mean where we don’t eat our beloved food like for more than 12 hours?? How the hell do you expect me to do it? And why?? Before we start the story, let’s take a quick walk up our evolution tree. Our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers, did not eat three meals a day at regular intervals. Instead they went hunting and gathering for days before they could find something good. They consumed much less food less frequently and often had to subsist on one large meal per day. From this perspective human beings are adapted to intermittent feeding rather than to grazing. Now the question is what happens if we start eating the way we are evolutionary programmed to? Fasting is primarily an act of willful abstention from all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for 24 hours or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive, limiting particular foods or substance. The fast may also be intermittent in nature. Fasting practices may preclude sexual intercourse and other activities as well as food.
Research suggests there are major health benefits to caloric restriction. Benefits include reduced risks of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, insulin resistance, immune disorders, and more generally, the slowing of the aging process, and the potential to increase maximum life span. According to the US National Academy of Sciences, other health benefits include stress resistance, increased insulin sensitivity, reduced morbidity, and increased life span. A team of cardiologists in the UAE found that people observing Ramadan, the Islamic fast, enjoy a positive effect on their lipid profile, which means there is a reduction of cholesterol in the blood. These results suggest a possible positive impact on the obesity levels of individuals who adhere to these fasting periods. Many people observe fasting as a religious obligation but only a few know the health benefits it has. It promotes elimination of toxins from the body, reduces blood sugar and fat stores. It promotes healthy eating habits and boost immunity. Here are the top 10 amazing health benefits you can derive from fasting.
Amazing Health Benefits of Fasting
1. Immunity Booster
When an individual is on balanced diet in between fasts, this can boost immunity. Elimination of toxins and reduction in fat store also helps the body. When individuals take fruits to break a fast, they increase the body’s store of essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A and E are good antioxidants readily available in fruits. They help to boost immunity.
Processed foods contain lots of additives. These additives may become toxins in the body. Some of them promote production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Most of these toxins are stored in fats. Fat is burnt during fasting, especially when it is prolonged. And the toxins are released. The liver, kidneys and other organs in the body are involved in detoxification.
3. Blood Sugar Reduction
Fasting increases breakdown of glucose so that the body can get energy. It reduces production of insulin. This rests the pancreas. Glucagon is produced to facilitate the breakdown of glucose. The outcome of fasting is a reduction in blood sugar.
4. Rests Digestive System
During fasting, the digestive organs rest. The normal physiologic functions continue especially production of digestive secretions, but at reduced rates. This exercise helps to maintain balance of fluids in the body. Breakdown of food takes place at steady rates. Release of energy also follows a gradual pattern. Fasting, however, does not stop production of acids in the stomach. This is reason patients with peptic ulcer are advised to approach fasting with caution. Some experts believe they should not fast.
5. Inflammatory Response
Some studies show that fasting promotes resolution of inflammatory diseases and allergies. Examples of such inflammatory diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis and skin diseases such as psoriasis. Some experts assert that fasting may promote healing of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis.
6. Fat Breakdown
The first response of the body to fasting is break down of glucose. When the store of glucose is exhausted, ketosis begins. This is break down of fats to release energy. The fats stored in kidney and muscles are broken down to release energy.
7. Corrects High Blood Pressure
Fasting is one of the non-drug methods of reducing blood pressure. It helps to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is clogging of arteries by fat particles. During fasting glucose and later, fat stores are used to produce energy. Metabolic rate is reduced during fasting. The fear-flight hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline are also reduced. This keeps the metabolic steady and within limits. The benefit is a reduction in blood pressure.
8. Overcoming Addictions
Some studies show that fasting can help addicts reduce their cravings, for nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and other substance abuse. Although there are other regimens required to resolve addictions, fasting can play a role.
9. Promotes Weight Loss
Fasting promotes rapid weight loss. It reduces the store of fats in the body. However, fasting is not a good weight loss strategy. Reducing fat and sugar intake, and increasing fruits and rest are better measures to achieve weight reduction.
10. Promotes Healthy Diet
It has been observed that fasting reduces craving for processed foods. It promotes desire for natural foods, especially water and fruits. This way fasting promotes a healthy lifestyle.
Despite these benefits, fasting has some demerits. It may cause reduction in body water, a condition known as dehydration. This may lead to headaches and even trigger migraines in predisposed persons. It may worsen heartburn and peptic ulcer. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, malnourished people, and individuals with cardiac arrhythmias, renal or liver problems are advised not to fast. Conclusively, fasting periodically can help your body relieve stress and clear your mind. It is a valuable health tool when performed properly. ECH believes it is a technique to be respected and utilized with appropriate caution. Image courtesy: scu.edu , dietplanhub.com