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. Whether you fast for a day or for a month as in Ramadan, fasting has spiritual as well as health benefits.
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13 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.
5. Keeps Your Heart Healthy
Triglyceride, blood pressure, inflammation and cholesterol level have a direct effect on the health of your heart. Fasting helps us to get control over all these and thus indirectly prevents you from heart diseases. Blood triglycerides decrease during fasting and prevent the risk of narrowing of your arteries. Fasting lowers your blood pressure and increases the level of good cholesterol.
6. Improves your Metabolism
While fasting there is an improved sensitivity of the leptin hormone. Leptin increases thyroid hormone production and increases the rate of metabolism if you have a sluggish thyroid. All the toxic and waste accumulated in your body over a period of time due to eating gets cleaned due to fasting. Also your digestive system gets the much needed rest and in turn helps in more efficient movement of your bowels.
7. Is Good For Your Skin
Fasting helps your body to synthesis and recycles the cellular components by degradation of unnecessary cells through a process known as autophagy. The result is that you will get cleaner and healthier looking skin. It also helps in acne treatment. As fasting lowers the blood sugar level, it aids in collagen production.
8. Normalizes Your Ghrelin Levels
Ghrelin is actually a hormone that tells your body when it is hungry. Dieting and all your weird eating habits increase the ghrelin levels and make you feel hungrier. Fasting normalizes the ghrelin level and makes you feel hungry when you truly are.
9. May Help Prevent Cancer
Studies have shown that cancer patients who started fasting after chemotherapy treatment performed well against the tumors. Fasting reduces the calorie intake which in turn stimulates a lot of changes related to the protection of body cells, which is conducive for the patient undergoing the treatment.
10. Increase in Growth Hormones
Fasting increases the production of growth hormones. Growth hormones stimulate growth and production of cell in the body. Increase in the growth hormone results in better lean muscle growth, greater fat burning and release of anti aging hormones. It also reduces the recovery time from injuries and this may be the reason why athletes fast.
11. Increases Resistance to Stress
Stress is partially caused by free radicals in human body. Free radicals react with other molecules in your body and change the dynamics of certain cells, leading your body to have more stress. Fasting helps better functioning of your cells by getting energy from other sources as compared when getting normal food supply in your body. Over time your body gets rid of bad cells and is replaced by healthier ones. The free radical formation will reduce and your body will be able to handle it more efficiently resulting in less stress.
12. Decreases Inflammation
Inflammation is caused when you diet consists of unhealthy food such as alcohol, fried food, refined sugar, carbs, etc. which is a consistent source of free radicals. Metabolic reaction also tends to release free radicals which are harmful for the body. Fasting prevents food related inflammation before it even starts. Fasting also decreases inflammation by maintaining the hormonal balance in the body.
13. Boosts Immunity
When you fast your cells start regenerating faster, replacing the old cells of your immune system. The more the healthier cells, the better the fighting capacity of the body against common sickness such as cold. Fasting thus improves your immunity system.
I think the above "health benefits of fasting" are sufficient enough to inspire you to start fasting. Do share your experiences once you start fasting.