Benefits of fasting
“A little starvation can really do more for the average sick man than can the best medicines and the best doctors”. Mark Twain
Fasting has been used in many cultures and religions for various purpose. You can find that many prominent individuals among which are Plato, Pythagoras, Philippus Paracelsus practiced fasting in their lives. Today fasting is often viewed as a fashionable “diet”, a tendency that should be followed. But the most important questions about fasting are “Is it healthy and what are the benefits of fasting?”. In this article we will try to give your scientific-proved facts for fasting, benefits of fasting, how to use fasting for weight loss and other tips concerning this drastic method.
Types of fasting
Fasting is no less than eating very little or no food for a certain period of time. The idea of no cooking and no counting calories may sound simple and inspiring because of weight-loss results, though your body health should always remain your prior concern. As for fasting, there are two most common types of it:
- Long, water only fasting – full refusal from eating, the daily ration consists of only 2-3 liters of calorie-free liquids (water or herbal teas). For example, it can be a 2-day fast once a month or a week-long fast once in 6 months. This type of fasting is most often associated with a negative impact on health.
- Shorter intermittent fasting – this is a combination of fasting and non-fasting, for instance, 5 days of a usual 3-day meal then 2 days of fasting. Intermittent fasting is easier to take and it is less harmful to the body. This type requires a fasting diet plan that alongside with low-calorie foods result in weight loss.
Before starting either intermittent fasting or long term fasting you need to get mentally prepared, to positively adjust for the improvement of the body, refuse from cigarettes, alcohol and coffee. This is going to be an endurance challenge for your physical and mental state.
When people opt for fasting to lose weight, they risk getting huge health problems. A large number of medical experts interviewed by WebMD.com claimed that fasting should not be a single tool for losing weight. Since fasting leads to quick slim-down, many people take it for the method that can solve obesity problems. Instead, they should focus on changing their lifestyle and dieting habits. Very often eating fruit and vegetables, drinking more water, cutting down consumption of fatty foods and some physical exercises can help in losing weight and this way is much more stressless for the body than a fasting diet.
At the same time, fasting is recommended to some people with a higher risk of heart diseases and diabetes. According to the studies conducted by the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans, people who fast for one day once a month proved to have a lower risk of coronary disease. In fact, those people practiced fasting for religious purposes but it does not matter much to medical experts, who study the overall physical condition of the patients. In certain conditions a fasting diet can be helpful and recommended but only under strict doctor’s supervision, otherwise, it can lead to some harmful aftereffects.
Fasting and its benefits for the body
Even though a fasting diet is not an easy way to keep to, it has some health benefits. Mark Mattson, the Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, paid a large part of his life to studying the factors that influence the work of the brain. Fasting turned to be among them. Overall, he named three major benefits of fasting on a human body:
- Fasts reduce inflammation – fasting reduces the release of certain hormones in the body that leads to an anti-inflammatory effect. For example, an experimental group of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis who participated in a 1-week fasting showed better results after fasting and experienced easement of their condition.
- Fasts reduce stress on organ system throughout the body – a fasting diet is a challenge for the whole body but at the same time it stimulates the production of new neurons that help to calm the body down.
- Fasts slow down energy metabolism – and you start burning fats. During fasting, the body produces specific ketone bodies, which are very good for a human brain. Fasting is a challenge to the brain when it starts responding to not having food by activating adaptive stress response that helps the brain cope with stress, thus to resist disease.
Other experts also add that a fasting diet is used as one of the most effective ways for body detoxification, which is a natural process of eliminating toxins. Fast boosts this mechanism by making the body use fat reserves for energy. The chemicals released from the fatty acids go through the body and to be eliminated through kidneys, liver, lungs and lymph nodes. Though keep in mind that only healthy fasting brings positive results without any harm to the whole body.
As you see, fasting diet is a drastic method of treatment and fighting excessive weight. It has a range of precautions especially for patients with certain health disorders and pregnant women. Before you decide on a fasting diet plan, ask your doctor or/and dietarian for any recommendations. And remember, fasting is not about an empty stomach only, this is a responsible and measured diet that will have desirable effect only when it is thoroughly considered and followed.