Forget three square meals a day; fasting may be the ultimate recipe for long-term health. Fasting, or not eating food for an extended period of time, is well-known as a religious diet practice both in Islam and Christianity. Research has revealed the potency of fasting to the general well-being. In fact, Citypeople reels out seven health benefits of fasting which some are already beginning to take advantage of.
(1) Fasting stimulates how the brain functions: Research has shown that fasting can help to clear the mind and awaken the senses while also boosting brain functioning. Fasting improves cognition, stalls age-related cognitive decline, usually slows neurodegeneration, reduces brain damage and enhances functional recovery after stroke. After only about six hours of fasting, the body starts releasing more of the so-called human growth hormone (HGH). This hormone changes metabolism to favor fat burning over protein use. Therefore, proteins can mostly be used for cell repair and the improvement of brain-cell functioning. Fasting has been showed to have anti-aging effects in the human brain. It can help improve the brain’s ability to form new neural connections and fight inflammation, which correlates to better memory, not to mention improved capacity to learn and retain new information.
(2) Fasting increases fat metabolism: Surprisingly, research suggests that the effect of fasting has the same or less negative effects on metabolism compared to traditional dieting. The reason why many think fasting improves metabolism is due to less loss of lean body mass and greater fat burning. It’s impossible to lose weight without losing a little lean body mass. Preserving more lean body mass means the body’s calorie-burning slows less. At the same time, short fasting periods cause the body to tap into fat stores and burn a greater percentage of fat mass for energy. Intermittent fasting appears to be a relatively safe—and possibly more effective—way to diet, as well as improve health.
(3) Fasting helps prevent Cancer: Over the past several years, many studies have showed that fasting can reduce risk factors for and reverse symptoms of cancer. When fasting there’s decreased blood glucose production, stem cells are triggered to regenerate the immune system, nutritional intake is balanced and increase in production of tumor-killing cells. Fasting can potentially lower your risk of developing cancer by helping to better manage your weight by reducing total caloric intake. In addition, the way that fasting affects our cells can actually hinder the development of cancer cells.
(4) Fasting promotes weight loss: Fasting can lead to a metabolic shift that causes your body to use fat as an energy source instead of glucose. When you fast, you consume fewer calories than normal—or no calories at all—which reduces your overall calorie intake. Reducing your calorie intake can help you lose weight, but it also causes several changes to the way your body stores and burns fat.
(5) Fasting improves heart function: Regular fasting can decrease your low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol. It’s also thought that fasting can 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. According to cardiologists, heart patients who are fasting, compared to those who are not, do not necessarily experience deterioration in their health.
(6) Boosts the Immune System: Fasting for 30 days like Muslims do in Ramadan can stimulate the production of new white blood cells. It underlies the regeneration of the entire immune system. Conditions with the regenerated immune system will further strengthen the body in warding off various bacterial and viral infections and other diseases. New research suggests starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells, which fight off infection. This could be particularly beneficial for people suffering from damaged immune systems. It could also help the elderly whose immune system becomes less effective as they age, making it harder for them to fight off even common diseases.
(7) Improves Glucose Tolerance: findings have showed that fasting may help to regulate blood glucose levels among people who are at risk of type 2 diabetes. Fasting has showed to improve glycemic (blood sugar) responses in men with a high risk of developing diabetes, irrespective of how much food they ate.