Fasting is a common cultural practice in several religions. However, it is gaining popularity with people of all ages for the various benefits involved with practicing it.
Fasting is the practice of going without some or all foods, depending on the kind, for a defined period.
Of the various ways of fasting, one is intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting involves cycles of fasting and eating. At one go, a fast can last a few hours or even a few days.
Fasting has been found to have various health benefits ranging from substantial weight loss to improved brain function.
Here are some benefits – backed by science
1. Controls blood glucose levels
If you have diabetes, pay attention because this can turn out to be very helpful for you. Short-term intermittent fasting has shown to significantly reduce blood glucose levels of patients with type 2 diabetes.
This reduction of blood glucose levels is because fasting reduces insulin resistance. Insulin is required for the transportation of glucose from the blood to the tissues of the body. The decreased insulin resistance increases the sensitivity of the body to insulin, which controls blood glucose levels.
Some studies, however, show that the impacts of fasting on blood sugar levels may be different for men than for women.
2. Promotes better health
Fasting fights inflammation. Though acute inflammation is a normal response of the immune system to fight infections and heal injuries, chronic inflammation often leaves the body damaged, in some cases severely.
Chronic inflammation has also been found to result in the development of chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. Fasting has been found to reduce inflammation which in turn reduces the risks of such chronic conditions, resulting in overall better health.
3. May Improve Heart Health
Fasting reduces the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides. This reduction lowers the risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, which are major risk factors for developing heart disease.
Thus, lifestyle and diet changes are one of the most effective ways of avoiding heart conditions.
4. Prevention of neurodegenerative disorders
Though the research is currently limited to animals, several studies have implied that fasting could be directly involved in enhancing brain function. Some studies have also shown that fasting is neuroprotective and could also stimulate the generation of new nerve cells and enhance cognitive function.
Since it may also help in reducing inflammation, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that it may also prevent neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Some animal studies have also suggested that fasting may not only protect against these diseases but also improve the lives of those suffering from these conditions.
5. Helps with weight loss
Fasting is considered a fast and quick way to shed a few pounds as it limits our overall caloric intake, which is a key factor in weight loss.
Some studies also suggest that fasting increases the levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which boosts metabolism and help with losing weight.
Fasting has also been found to increase fat loss while preserving muscle tissue.
6. Stimulate growth hormone production
Biologists and other scientists know how vital the human growth hormone (HGH) is for the body. It is a crucial hormone involved in growth, metabolism and muscle strength.
Studies have found that fasting may be involved in naturally increasing HGH production. This suggests that fasting could directly boost growth, metabolism and enhance muscle strength.
Fasting can also be credited for maintaining steady blood glucose and insulin levels, which further stimulate growth hormone production rate.
7. Possible anti-ageing effects
The research related to the anti-ageing effects of fasting is also currently limited to animals. But several studies have found that fasting has the potential to extend your life.
8. May aid in cancer prevention
Another study has indicated that exposing cancer cells to intermittent fasting helped as much as chemotherapy and could be useful in delaying tumour growth. So fasting may also increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy on cancers.