Despite its recent surge in popularity, fasting is a practice that dates back centuries and plays a central role in many cultures and religions. It is defined as the abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time.
While people used to fast for spiritual reasons in the past, scientists and
researchers have confirmed that fasting also provides numerous health benefits. Below are some benefits of fasting that will surprise you and hopefully give you the
motivation you need to get started with the practice.
1. HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT:
For those looking to lose some weight, fasting is one of the quickest and safest ways to get you there. Normally, when you eat, your body burns the food you ate to provide fuel for your body. Any extra food that does not get used up as fuel is converted into fats and stored within the body for future use. This is what leads to weight gain. When you start fasting, there is less food to convert into energy, therefore your body is forced to start converting the stored fats into energy. One of the greatest advantages of fasting as a means of losing weight is that it is more effective in burning through fat cells compared to regular dieting. Some research has also found that short-term fasting may boost metabolism by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine,
which could enhance weight loss. In fact, one review showed that whole-day fasting could reduce body weight by up to 9% and significantly decrease body fat over 12–24 weeks.
2. PROMOTES DETOXIFICATION:
Detox is the new buzzword in town. Every conversation around food and any seminar on healthy eating is incomplete without a debate around it. Given that we are surrounded by toxins every step of the way – from environmental toxins to those present in preservatives and pesticides – it’s recommended that we reboot from time to time. A detox basically means a planned cut back on toxins with a focus to improve our health and general well-being
“A good detox or cleansing program assists
your body to get rid of old sludge and excess accumulated in your tissues over
the years. It gives a good rest to your organs especially your overworked
digestive system”, says Macrobiotic Coach and Nutrition expert, Shilpa Arora.
Fasting serves as a healthy way of detoxing especially when your fasting ritual allows you to consume fruits and light vegetables.
3. 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.
4. SPEEDS UP METABOLISM
Fasting also helps boost your metabolism. A weak digestive system normally affects your ability to metabolize food and burn fat. By fasting intermittently, you provide time for
your digestive system to get some rest. When you eat next after your digestive system has rested, your metabolism receives a boost, which means that your body burns calories more efficiently and gets more energy from the food you eat. A study conducted by researchers from the Department of Internal Medicine IV at the University of Vienna found that fasting can increase your metabolism by up to 14%.
5. 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. 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.
6. FASTING REJUVENATES THE SKIN AND PREVENTS ACNE
If you have been trying cream after cream trying to make your skin look better, you might be surprised to learn that you can achieve the look you want through fasting. How does this happen? Fasting has a number of effects that help improve your skin. First and foremost, fasting gives the body a break from digestion, allowing the body to expend more energy on regulating and improving the function of others organs such as the liver, the kidneys, and the skin. Fasting also helps the body to get rid of toxins that might be contributing to skin conditions. When you fast, your body regenerates the cells that make up your skin and cleans old cell material from existing cells, thus contributing to a better look. This regeneration can even contribute to faster healing of scars. All in all, fasting not only improves how you feel, it also improves how you look.
7. FASTING ENHANCES HEART HEALTH:
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. Regular fasting and better heart health may also be linked to the way your body metabolizes cholesterol and sugar. It’s also thought that fasting may improve the way your body metabolizes sugar. This can reduce your risk of gaining weight and developing diabetes, which are both risk factors for heart disease. One study found that fasting leads to reduced risk of developing coronary artery disease.
8. ENHANCES GROWTH HORMONE:
Human growth hormone (HGH) is a type of protein hormone that is central to many aspects of your health. In fact, research shows that this key hormone is involved in growth, metabolism, weight loss and muscle strength. During intermittent fasting, HGH (Human growth hormone) has shown to increase as much as five times over. This hormone is produced by the pituitary gland, and increases glucose levels, and is therefore suppressed during feeding. Fasting is a great stimulus for secretion of HGH.
9. BOOSTS YOUR BRAIN FUNCTION:
Fasting improves your brain function in a number of ways. It boosts the production of a brain hormone known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF). Release of BNDF activates stem cells within the brain and converts them into neurons. BNDF also triggers the release of several other chemicals that are good for your brain’s health. Apart from the production of BNDF, fasting also improves brain function by reducing over-activity in the brain. When you fast, your brain goes into survival mode, leading to increased ability to focus on the tasks at hand.
10. SPIRITUAL BENEFITS OF FASTING:
How often we forget that our bodies are the temple of the Lord-especially when deciding what to eat! Fasting is a great time to remember the
spiritual connection we have to our physical bodies. Without the toxins we put in our bodies, we not only give our bodies a break from the digestive process, but we also allow our spirits to be detoxed. Fasting is a faith-move, an expectation we have that God will fill us with his holy spirit, just as he promised. When we finish our fast, renewed, full of energy, detoxed, with a new desire, a new praise and sensitivity to God’s voice, we find that the absence of food was small in comparison to what we gained.