Fasting is an ancient practice popular in many religions across the globe. It is also extensively supported by the Ayurvedic healthcare system. It is nothing but abstinence from all or some foods for a set period of time. Generally, most fasts are performed over 24-72 hours, depending on which type of fast you are practising.
Fasting is not only religious or spiritual practice. It has numerous incredible health benefits, such as weight loss to improved cognitive functions. Let’s know more about the benefits of fasting here.
The Many Health Benefits of Fasting
Chronic inflammation is one of the leading causes of several diseases like heart problems, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. (1). Fasting helps lower inflammation and promote better health (2) (3).
Detoxifies the Body
Fasting is one of the best methods to promote natural detoxification. There are many studies that indicate the benefits of fasting in removing toxins from the body and promoting liver health (4).
Aids in Losing Weight
One of the main benefits of fasting is reducing body weight without harming the muscles. Fasting can increase the levels of neurotransmitter norepinephrine and boost metabolism, thereby enhancing weight loss (5) (6).
Reduces Insulin Resistance
Fasting helps manage diabetes as well as reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Many studies have found that it helps lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity in the body (7) (8).
Prolonged fasting can lead to the regeneration of the cells of the immune system and protect you better from diseases (9).
Promotes Heart Health
Regular fasting can help lower the levels of LDL or bad cholesterol and raise the levels of HDL or good cholesterol (10) (11). In addition, many studies also suggest that fasting can help in regulating blood pressure levels and lowering the risk of coronary heart disease (12) (13) (14).
Enhances Brain Function
Fasting boosts the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is essential for maintaining cognitive functions and enhancing neural health (15) (16). In addition, fasting also relieves inflammation, which aids in preventing neurodegenerative disorders. Several studies have suggested the benefits of fasting in improving the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s (17) (18).
Prevents Skin Diseases
Fasting has profound effects on the skin. Apart from preventing ageing of the skin, it also helps in controlling the progression of several skin disorders like acne, atopic eczema and psoriasis (19).
Aids in Cancer Prevention
Many studies suggest that fasting may benefit the treatment and prevention of cancer. It can help delay tumour growth and increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy on cancer formation (20).
Safety and Precautions
Although there are many benefits of fasting, it may not be suited for everyone. Your mental strength, gastrointestinal health, body constitution, and food and beverage habits, all come into consideration while fasting.
There are also many types of fasting, such as intermittent fasting, water fasting, etc. You must choose the fasting that is best suited for your health. It is best to seek a doctor’s help for this.
You should also practise healthy eating habits during fasting. Stay well-hydrated and fill your diet with nutritious foods during your eating periods. Take plenty of rest and do minimal physical activity. Also, make sure to not break your fast with any heavy meal. Take nutritious and well-balanced meals after fasting.
The Final Takeaway
Fasting is associated with myriad health benefits, such as weight loss, improved blood sugar control, enhanced heart health, better brain health, cancer prevention, etc. Incorporating fasting with a nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle can promote better health and longevity.