The Facts on Fasting for Your Health

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Voluntary fasting is common in many religions and cultures all over the world. Muslims do that during the month of Ramadan, Mormons abstain from eating on first Sundays of each month, Bahá'í Faith practitioners observe the Nineteen Day Fast right before the Bahá'í New Year (around the first two and half weeks of March) among many other faiths. Apart from religious obligations, many people often abstain from taking any food and/or drink for certain period of time for many other reasons.

The question is, what effects these fasting practices have on your health?

What does your body feel?

For those who are fasting, or thinking about trying to abstain from taking any food and liquid for a part of the day or the whole day, have you ever wondered, what fasting does to your body? Well, let’s see what your body does when you don’t give it enough firepower.

The main difference fasting makes from a non-fasting state of the body is the change in energy resources. Since you’re not eating any food, there remains no external carbohydrate to turn into glucose. Hence the glucose stored in your body (glycogen) is primarily used for energy.

When the glycogen supply runs out, the body runs in Ketosis mode, where fat stored in the body is burned to generate energy.

In Ketosis mode:

  • Weight loss happens due to all the fat-burning
  • Blood becomes acidic
  • Breath smells bad
  • If body stays in Ketosis mode for a long time, the kidney and liver is likely to be damaged

Now that you know what fasting does to your health, it’s likely for you to wonder what health benefits will you reap from fasting. There are many popular misconceptions and wrong expectations from fasting though, and you might want to know those before learning about the health benefits.

“Unrealistic” expectations of Fasting:

  1. Weight Loss: It is likely to be excited after learning about the “Ketosis stage”, where fat stored in the body is burned for energy, resulting in weight loss. But please keep your high flying expectations on a leash. Because it hardly is so.
    Sure, you will lose weight during Ketosis state when you are fasting. However, you’re not going to fast forever and you will eat some food eventually. And when you do, the weights will come back. Because weight loss depends more on when you eat than when you don’t eat. To be honest, for losing weight the balance of eating healthy food and exercising in right and recommended way by professionals are the most effective option. Fasting might be good for many other health issues, but losing weight isn’t one of those.
  2. Fasting as a “diet routine”: Even though fasting does some good to your body, the researchers are yet to find a strong and evident correlation between fasting and good health. Everything regarding his is really preliminary. So, it isn’t very wise to incorporate voluntary fasting in diet routine without consulting your doctor and dietitian.

“Realistic” expectations from fasting that benefits your health:

However, there are some health benefits and some potential benefits of fasting.

  1. Heart, Health and Fasting: Fasting and heart health has more evident correlation. Studying showed that, fasting prevents heart diseases and insulin resistance. And it is also observed that, fast g boosts the secretion of Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
  2. Mitigating Cancer Risk: If you can manage to keep the fleeting expectations on leash, there is a good news for you. Preliminary researches show that, fasting has effect in cancer prevention. Fasting periodically slows down the race of cell division (well, it was tested mice), that results from lack of nutrients.
  3. Potential Treatment of Diseases: There are claims, very convincing claims that fasting is helpful in treating the following diseases. The diseases are:
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Rheumatic Arthritis
  • Allergy

Even though the study is regarding this, this is still very rudimentary, but so far, fasting dies not affect people suffering from this or make it any worse.

In a nutshell, fasting does have some good for your body. But if you are not used to it or considering it is better for you to consult a doctor/nutritionist/ any certified professional before taking up fasting.

Tags: fasting food diet

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