Amidst the growing interest in Intermittent Fasting (IF), experts continue to make the public understand how fasting can improve your health when done properly and with guidance. This is a practice that has been around for many years and for many reasons including religious, health, medical, and even political. For weight loss, IF has been proven by many to be effective and sustainable.
The Practice of Fasting
The therapeutic and health benefits of fasting has been recognized for centuries. Even Hippocrates has ‘prescribed’ the short term fasts to ease symptoms of some illnesses. Among ancient names that have been put on record as believers of fasting include Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch and in the beginnings of Western Medicine, Paracelsus and Franklin.
Ancient physicians believe that fasting is a natural instinct. This is why some illnesses naturally result in loss of appetite. Eating, in some of these instances could actually do more harm than good. Continued fasting, on the other hand, is more likely to result in recovery. Through the 19th and 20th centuries, the practice of fasting was extensively studied and applied in various forms and for different purposes.
In contrast to the foraging societies of early man, food today is too easy to come by — often with minimal effort in this time of fast food, ready-to-eat food trays, and microwave dinners. People now eat not just for sustenance, but also to satisfy their gustatory cravings. There’s also the tendency for some people to binge eat or to compulsively eat for one reason or another. Medical experts have pointed to these unhealthy eating habits are the culprits for many ailments and diseases in the modern world.
Fasting for Health
There’s a surge of interest in fasting recently as more and more people experience how fasting can improve your health. There are different programs and protocols popularized and endorsed by medical as well as health and fitness personalities. Most of these involve several hours of abstinence from eating or drinking anything other than water. Some modified forms allow a minimal amount of caloric intake during the fasting period.
Here are some of the benefits that can be expected from fasting:
- Reduced resistance to insulin — insulin is essential in the body as it regulates your blood sugar levels. When your body does not respond properly to insulin, it could lead to health complications. Fasting for short periods have been found to be helpful in addressing insulin resistance. Intermittent fasting protocols lead to a more efficient transport of glucose through the bloodstream and to the cells. Especially for those with or are at risk for diabetes, it would be good to talk to your doctor about how fasting can keep your blood sugar levels in control.
- Lower levels of inflammation — a lot has already been said about how chronic inflammation can cause serious health problems. It can cause ailments like cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis among many other conditions that can cause disability and death. Fighting inflammation through fasting will significantly improve your health. Inflammatory marker levels were shown in studies to be lower in subjects who went on intermittent fasting and those who did 12-hour fasts everyday for a month.
- Improved cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and heart health — heart disease is said to be a silent killer and one of the leading causes of death all over the world. It can cause a lot of damage without you feeling anything out of the ordinary. The best way to avoid heart disease is to make changes in your lifestyle. Apart from exercising and seeing your doctor regularly, modifying your eating habits and routine would help improve your heart health. You can effectively lower your bad cholesterol and triglycerides levels through timed-fasts. Blood pressure levels were also found to be improved through fasting.
- More efficient metabolism and more effective weight loss — it has been said so many times that permanent, sustainable, and healthy weight loss cannot happen overnight. It happens with changes in the body’s metabolic processes brought about by controlled caloric intake and regular physical activity among others. Changing what (healthy food choices) and how (regular fasting) you eat has been proven to boost metabolism and result in weight loss.
- Fortified protection against cancer — the metabolic and anti-inflammatory benefits of fasting also could also lower the risk of developing cancer. Tumor growth was found to be hampered in animal studies that involve intermittent fasting. On the other hand, in human studies of patients undergoing chemotherapy, some side effects of treatment were found to be reduced.
- Better brain function and prevention of neurodegenerative disorders — animal studies strongly indicate also among the benefits that fasting could cause an improvement in cognitive function. Apart from the metabolic boosts, decreased oxidative stress and inflammation, and lower blood sugar levels, an increase in brain-deprived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is likewise cited in fasting studies as contributory to the improvement in brain function of test subjects. Fasting has also been found to be effective in preventing diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- Longer lifespan — even in ancient societies, those who fasted regularly were found to live longer lives. Recent animal studies indicate the same effect on longevity. More studies have yet to be conducted for a closer investigation on exactly how fasting impacts longevity and delays aging in human subjects.
Experience the Benefits of Fasting Now
It is not complicated to get started with intermittent fasting and other fasting programs popular today. You will most likely find a definitive and exhaustive guide online, complete with menu plans on what you can eat to derive maximum results from your new eating habit. More than just another diet protocol, fasting regularly is a lifestyle choice to improve the way you consume food.
There are different kinds of fasts that you can get into, from water and juice fasting to the various practices of intermittent fasting. An important guideline no matter what kind of fasting you want to do is to consult your doctor first. You want to check your current state of health and be sure that fasting will indeed be good for you. Your doctor can tell you exactly how fasting can improve your health.