The Benefits Of Fasting
The many health benefits of fasting have been recognised from as far back as Hippocrates, the widely considered Father of Medicine. When we fast, we avoid food for longer periods than is usual – generally for at least 12 hours, but often up to 48, or even longer. Most of us fast unintentionally on occasion - such as when we’re too late for work or school to eat breakfast, or we miss lunch - but active fasting means deliberately avoiding food for a set period of time.
A common misconception is that fasting means total starvation, but this simply isn’t true. Fasting is not starving, and most people drink water and/or pure fruit and vegetable juices during their fast.
The Key Benefits of Fasting
The benefits of fasting are many and include everything from better weight management and softer skin to improved cardiovascular health and better cell recycling. Here are some of the most commonly experienced benefits:
This may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s true. Your fatty tissue produces several hormones, one of which is leptin. Leptin affects how full you feel. When we fast, our leptin levels drop initially, but then, as we begin to lose weight, our leptin resistance decreases, meaning we become more responsive to leptin signals – so we feel fuller, sooner.
Up to 70% of our daily energy is used in digestion. Fasting essentially removes the burden of our digestive systems so energy can be directed to other processes – such as fat loss. Ketosis is our fat-burning state, and fasting helps us reach this state faster than simply reducing calories. This is especially beneficial when it comes to reducing fat that is stored around our liver and kidneys, interfering with the way in which they function.
When we fast, our bodies can’t get the energy they need from food, so they dip into the glucose that is stored in our muscles and liver. This process starts about eight hours after our last meal. When the stored glucose is finished, our bodies then begin to burn fat as a source of energy. In addition to helping with weight loss, this can also help reduce cholesterol.
Better Insulin Sensitivity
When we fast, our bodies secrete less insulin. Lower insulin levels increase our sensitivity to this hormone. Some studies have shown that fasting for one day a week (only drinking water for 24 hours) can reverse insulin resistance in people who are at high risk of developing diabetes.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
This is a huge benefit, especially for people who have metabolic syndrome-related health problems. Fasting improves cardiovascular function, blood pressure and blood composition, and, as already mentioned, reduces cholesterol.
Refined sugar and carbohydrates, alcohol, meat and dairy can all cause inflammation. By cutting out a few meals, food-related inflammation is prevented before it even starts.
What To Do Before You Fast
Fasting is not something you should decide to do tomorrow! When you first introduce fasting into your regular dietary routine, you need to prepare your body first. The impact of fasting can be intense, and if your body isn’t ready, the burden on your liver and digestive system will be too great.
Prepare your body for at least two weeks by using apple cider vinegar every day, eating more fermented foods and completely removing refined sugars, processed foods and caffeine from your diet.
You should also always check with a qualified health practitioner before embarking on any new dietary regime. Dr Alain Sanua is a qualified medical doctor and Integrated medicine specialist. He would welcome to chance to give you some nutritional advice or discuss any concerns you might have about the benefits of fasting.