After Yoga, “Fasting” the age-old tradition of India is now expected to become the next global trend. Many cultures and religions have been using fasting for religious and spiritual purification.
What is Fasting?
By definition, fasting is going without, all kinds of or some kind of food and drinks for a particular time period. Most of the time fasting is performed over 24 to 72 hrs. The most popular fasting method is the Intermittent fasting method. Intermittent fasting ranges from few hours to few days. It includes repeated cycling of eating and fasting. The intermittent fasting method again divided into two types, alternate day fasting and time-restricted feeding. The other common methods of fasting include water fasting, juice fasting, partial fasting (elimination of certain food) and calorie restriction.
Fasting offers lots of potential health benefits including blood sugar control, enhancement of cardiac health, and improvement in brain function and cancer prevention. However, most of the studies have been conducted on animals. Scientists are working hard and lots of research is going on across the globe to study the health benefits of fasting on the human body.
What happens when we eat?
Regular intake of food is known to supply fuel or energy to the cells in our body in the form of glucose. The unused glucose in our body gets stored in the form of glycogen.
When we fast how the body reacts?
When we fast, the body does not get glucose supply as an energy source from food. During that time body uses stored glycogen as a fuel or energy source.
Some of the Health benefits of fasting supported by science
- Controls blood sugar: Some studies have found that intermittent fasting or alternate-day fasting could assist in decreasing insulin resistance and reducing blood sugar levels. The results may be different for men and women.
- Improves cardiac health: Several studies have found that fasting could improve cardiac health. One small study discovered that alternate day fasting could decrease bad cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and reduce blood pressure.
- Improves brain functioning: Some of the animal studies have revealed that fasting could boost brain functioning and prevent neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. However, further research is required to prove the impact of fasting on brain functions in humans.
- Helps to fight inflammation: Several studies have revealed that fasting could help to reduce levels of inflammation and encourage good health. One study in adults revealed that intermittent fasting for one month reduced the level of inflammation markers.
- Helps to reduce weight: Some studies have found that fasting could improve metabolism, leading to reduce body weight and body fat. Some researches show that fasting boosts levels of neurotransmitter norepinephrine which ultimately helps in making your mind for weight loss.
- Enhances longevity and delays aging: Some animal studies show that fasting could enhance longevity and slow up aging. These studies are bounded to animals only. However, further research is required to prove the effect of fasting on human aging.
- Enhances the levels of HGH: Some studies reveal that fasting could enhance the levels of human growth hormone (HGH) a vital hormone in growth, muscle strength, weight loss and metabolism
- Helps in the prevention of Cancer: Some animal and test-tube studies propose that fasting could be beneficial in cancer prevention. Fasting could block tumor formation and improve the efficacy of chemotherapy. However, these studies are limited to animals and require more in-depth research to prove positive effects in human cancers.
When accompanied with healthy life style and nutritious diet, inclusion of fasting in regular lifestyle, could offer health benefits. However, in spite of many health benefits of fasting, it is always better to discuss with your doctor before starting any type of fasting. If you decide to try fasting always have nutritious and healthy diet during your eating period and stay hydrated. For prolonged fasting minimize physical activities and take rest.