In this season many people observe fasting as a religious obligation but only few know the health benefits it has. Fasting is a good practice, if properly implemented. It promotes elimination of toxins from the body, reduces blood sugar and fat stores. It promote healthy eating habits and boost immunity. Here are top 10 health benefits you can derive from fasting.
1. Fasting Promotes detoxification
Processed foods contain lots of additives. These additives may become toxins in the body. Some of them promote production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Most of these toxins are stored in fats. Fat is burnt during fasting, especially when it is prolonged. And the toxins are released. The liver, kidneys and other organs in the body are involved in detoxification.
2. Fasting Rests Digestive System
During fasting, the digestive organs rest. The normal physiologic functions continue especially production of digestive secretions, but at reduced rates. This exercise helps to maintain balance of fluids in the body. Breakdown of food takes place at steady rates. Release of energy also follows a gradual pattern. Fasting however does not stop production of acids in the stomach. This is reason patients with peptic ulcer are advised to approach fasting with caution. Some experts believe they should not fast.
3. Fasting Resolves Inflammatory Response
Some studies show that fasting promotes resolution of inflammatory diseases and allergies. Examples of such inflammatory diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis and skin diseases such as psoriasis. Some experts assert that fasting may promote healing of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis.
4. Fasting Reduces Blood Sugar
Fasting increases breakdown of glucose so that the body can get energy. It reduces production of insulin. This rests the pancreas. Glucagon is produced to facilitate the breakdown of glucose. The outcome of fasting is a reduction in blood sugar.
5. Fasting Increases Fat breakdown
The first response of the body to fasting is break down of glucose. When the store of glucose is exhausted, ketosis begins. This is break down of fats to release energy. The fats stored in kidney and muscles are broken down to release energy.
6. Fasting Corrects high blood Pressure
Fasting is one of the non-drug methods of reducing blood pressure. It helps to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is clogging of arteries by fat particles. During fasting glucose and later, fat stores are used to produce energy. Metabolic rate is reduced during fasting. The fear-flight hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline are also reduced. This keeps the metabolic steady and within limits. The benefit is a reduction in blood pressure.
7. Fasting Promotes Weight loss
Fasting promotes rapid weight loss. It reduces the store of fats in the body. However fasting is not a good weight loss strategy. Reducing fat and sugar intake, and increasing fruits and rest are better measures to achieve weight reduction.
8. Fasting Promotes Healthy diet
It has been observed that fasting reduces craving for processed foods. It promotes desire for natural foods, especially water and fruits. This is one way fasting promote healthy lifestyle.
9. Fasting Boosts Immunity
When an individual is on balanced diet in between fasts, this can boost immunity. Elimination of toxins and reduction in fat store also helps the body. When individuals take fruits to break a fast, they increase the body’s store of essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A and E are good antioxidants readily available in fruits. They help to boost immunity.
10. Fasting May Help to Overcome Addictions
Some authors show that fasting can help addicts reduce their cravings, for nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and other substance abuse. Although there are other regimens required to resolve addictions, fasting can play a role.
Despite these benefits, fasting has some demerits. It may cause reduction in body water called dehydration. This leads may lead to headaches and even trigger migraines in predisposed persons. It may worsen heartburn and peptic ulcer. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, malnourished people, and individuals with cardiac arrhythmias, renal or liver problems are advised not to fast.
Seliger, S. & Haines, C.D. (2012) ‘Is Fasting Healthy?’ Accessed from http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/is_fasting_healthy
Panjwani, M. (2009) ’11 Health Benefits of Fasting’, Accessed from http://mushpanjwani.com/2009/08/23/11-health-benefits-of-fasting/