The Health Benefits and Types of Fasting
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Fasting often leads to weight loss, which of course is good for most people, because the majority of Americans are overweight. However the benefits of fasting go well beyond getting thinner.
Fasting also boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation, stabilizes blood sugar, lowers blood pressure, gives your digestive system a chance to relax and repair, promotes detoxification and can even help fight addiction.
It's important to remember to drink plenty of water while fasting so you don't get dehydrated, which can lead to problems such as migraine headaches. Pregnant women and some people with health issues like heart arrhythmias and kidney problems might be advised not to fast.
There are many ways to fast. You can simply go without any food at all and drink only water for days on end. That's pretty tough.
Then there are people who choose to fast by simply restricting their calories and eating certain healthy foods. The "Daniel Fast" is like that. It's very popular among Christians these days and harkens back to the Old Testament prophet Daniel, who only ate vegetables and the like. The "Daniel Fast" involves eating only food in its natural state, such as fresh vegetables and fruit. Some fasts consist of going without food for one or two days a week and eating regularly the other days.
In addition to going without food altogether and the "Daniel Fast," there's also what's known as intermittent fasting, which means you go without food for 18 hours every day, therefore only eating during a six-hour window. You can choose the six-hour window that works best for you. For instance, one might choose to eat only between the hours of 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 pm.
Intermittent fasting is arguably the easiest type of fasting to stick with. The health benefits are numerous. Although the above example of eating only between 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. might raise the ire of those who promote breakfast eating as a path to weight loss and good health, one could always choose to eat between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and still eat breakfast.
Believe it or not, it takes about six to eight hours for your body to burn all the sugar out of your system after you eat. It's only then that the body switches into fat-burning mode. If you eat so often that your body is always in sugar-burning mode, you never have a chance to burn-off that unhealthy fat.
After a while, you may choose to close that window a bit, and eat only during a five or four-hour window each day.
Scientists have conducted many studies on the results of intermittent fasting, and they reveal positive health outcomes. These include increased insulin sensitivity along with mitochondrial energy efficiency, which translates into a slowing of aging and disease.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to mimic exercise, in that it causes the body to resist stress, disease, and aging by triggering a cellular stress response in which our bodies are strengthened in a manner that increases our capacity to cope with all kinds of stressors it encounters.
Furthermore, intermittent fasting has proven to reduce oxidative stress, which means the number of oxidative radicals in the cell are fewer, therefore preventing oxidative damage to the cells, which is linked to aging and disease.
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