Fasting is practiced around the world for two main reasons. The first reason is due to religion where many different faiths practice some form of fasting, including the Christians and the Muslims. The second main reason for fasting is to lose weight or as part of a dieting plan. The question that arises is if fasting is beneficial at all for us? What are the benefits if any? Is it harmful to fast? Let’s look at this practice in detail to determine the answers to these questions.
The following are the proven benefits of fasting:
- Fasting may help in the prevention of cancer. Studies in animals have shown that intermittent fasting and alternate day fasting both have shown to reduce the chances of cancer development in animals. It also reduces the growth of cancer and can cause regression in some types of cancer.
- Fasting increases the amount of Growth Hormone many folds. Growth hormone is required for bone and muscle growth and strength.
- Fasting helps with weight loss as it limits the intake of calories, forcing the body to switch to fats as a source of energy. This in turn results in the loss of body fat and which is one of the most common reasons for people to fast.
- Fasting reduces insulin resistance and improves the glucose metabolism of the body. It reduces the amount of glucose in the blood by increasing the sensitivity to insulin, which assists in the transport of glucose from the blood into the cells. The reduced intake of glucose from the diet also plays its part in reducing the blood glucose levels.
- Studies in animals have shown that fasting improves brain function. These studies are limited to animals and would require more research to see the effect on humans, however the rats studied showed improvement in brain function after fasting.
- Fasting may be beneficial for your heart as it reduces the LDL cholesterol from the blood as well as the levels of triglycerides. This in turn has a beneficial effect on heart disease.
- The discipline and self-control required for fasting increases our mental health and focus. It gives us the ability to control and compartmentalize our hunger while continuing our daily activities.
These are just some of the benefits of fasting. Prolonged fasting for longer period of times may be harmful. Intermittent or alternate day fasting for a limited period of time is beneficial. We need to make sure we do not get dehydrated and are taking in all the necessary nutrients required by our body. If you suffer from diabetes or any other medical illness, please consult your doctor before deciding to fast.