Although fasting is very popular nowadays, this practice dates back centuries and plays a signature role in many cultures and religions.
Fast refers to the abstinence from all or some foods or drinks for a certain period of time, there are many different forms and ways of fasting. In general, most types of fasts are performed over the time span of 24 – 72 hours. While, intermittent fasting, on the other hand, involves shifting between specific periods of fasting and eating ranging from a few hours to a few days at a time.
Over time, fasting has proven to show numerous health benefits ranging from increased weight loss to better brain function.
Here are 8 of the health benefits of fasting backed by science
- Promotes Blood Sugar Control through reduced insulin resistance
Fasting has been shown in several trials to improve blood sugar management, which might be especially beneficial for people at risk of diabetes.
In fact, a study of ten persons with type 2 diabetes found that short-term intermittent fasting reduced blood sugar levels considerably.
Meanwhile, another study indicated that intermittent fasting and alternate-day fasting were equally efficient at lowering insulin resistance as calorie restriction.
Insulin resistance can be reduced by increasing your body’s sensitivity to insulin, allowing glucose to be transported more efficiently from your bloodstream to your cells.
This, together with the possible blood sugar-lowering benefits of fasting, might help keep your blood sugar stable, minimising blood sugar spikes and crashes.
Keep in mind, however, that fasting may affect blood sugar levels differently in men and women, according to some research.
For example, a three-week research found that alternate-day fasting harmed women’s blood sugar regulation while having no effect on males.
- Promotes Better Health by Fighting Inflammation
While acute inflammation is a natural immune response that aids in the fight against infection, persistent inflammation can have major health repercussions.
Inflammation has been linked to the development of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis, according to research.
Fasting has been shown in certain studies to help reduce inflammation and promote improved health.
In one research of 50 healthy people, intermittent fasting for one month resulted in a substantial reduction in inflammatory markers.
When they fasted for 12 hours a day for a month, the same impact was reported in another small study.
Furthermore, one animal research discovered that eating a very low-calorie diet to simulate the effects of fasting lowered inflammation and was helpful in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, a chronic inflammatory disease.
- May Enhance Heart Health by Improving Blood Pressure, Triglycerides and Cholesterol Levels
Heart disease is the largest cause of mortality in the world, accounting for around 31.5 percent of all fatalities.
One of the most effective methods to lower your risk of heart disease is to change your food and lifestyle.
According to several studies, including fasting into your daily routine may be very advantageous to your heart health.
A tiny research found that fasting on alternate days for eight weeks lowered levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and blood triglycerides by 25% and 32%, respectively.
Another research of 110 obese people found that fasting for three weeks under medical supervision reduced blood pressure, blood triglycerides, total cholesterol, and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels considerably.
In addition, a research of 4,629 adults found that fasting was linked to a decreased risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, which is a key risk factor for heart disease.
- May Boost Brain Function and Prevent Neurodegenerative Disorders
Several studies have revealed that fasting may have a profound influence on brain function, despite the fact that most research is restricted to animal studies.
Intermittent fasting for 11 months increased both brain function and structure in mice, according to one research.
Other animal research have found that fasting can aid improve cognitive performance by protecting brain health and increasing nerve cell production.
Fasting may benefit in the prevention of neurodegenerative illnesses since it can help reduce inflammation.
Fasting may protect against and enhance outcomes for illnesses including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, according to animal research.
- Aids Weight Loss by Limiting Calorie Intake and Boosting Metabolism
Many dieters turn to fasting as a means to lose weight quickly and easily.
Abstention from all or specific meals and beverages should theoretically reduce your overall calorie consumption, resulting in enhanced weight reduction over time.
Short-term fasting has also been shown to promote metabolism by boosting levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which may help with weight reduction.
Over the course of 12–24 weeks, one study found that whole-day fasting might reduce body weight by up to 9% and considerably reduce body fat.
Another study indicated that intermittent fasting for 3–12 weeks was just as successful as continuous calorie restriction in terms of weight reduction, with body weight and fat mass dropping by up to 8% and 16%, respectively.
Fasting was also found to be more effective than calorie restriction in increasing fat reduction while keeping muscular tissue intact.
- Increases Growth Hormone Secretion, Which Is Vital for Growth, Metabolism, Weight Loss and Muscle Strength
Human growth hormone (HGH) is a protein hormone that affects a variety of bodily functions.
In fact, studies reveal that this important hormone affects development, metabolism, weight reduction, and muscular strength.
Fasting has been shown in several trials to enhance HGH levels naturally.
Fasting for 24 hours dramatically raised HGH levels in 11 healthy people, according to one research.
Another small research of nine males revealed that fasting for just two days increased HGH production by five times.
Fasting may also assist maintain stable blood sugar and insulin levels throughout the day, which may help to optimise HGH levels since some evidence suggests that maintaining high insulin levels can lower HGH levels.
The Bottom Line
Fasting has been linked to a variety of health advantages, including weight loss, better blood sugar management, heart health, cognitive function, and cancer prevention.
There are numerous various styles of fasting that accommodate practically any lifestyle, from water fasting to intermittent fasting and calorie restriction.
Incorporating fasting into your routine, when combined with good food and a healthy lifestyle, may be beneficial to your health.