what is fasting and can it be beneficial? Many of us know it as a protocol the doctor prescribes before blood testing.
For others, it may mean giving up a favorite food for a period of time or not eating food at certain times of the day or year out of respect for various religious holidays.
Strictly speaking, fasting is the voluntary absence of food. While the idea of missing even one meal might put most of us in misery, fasting does have many benefits for the body.
Give Your Body a RestWe take vacations, we have weekends off from work, we rest our tired bodies through sleep, and we "take a break" to rejuvenate from stress. One thing, though, that we hardly ever do, is take a break from food for longer lengths of time.
Our digestive system is very busy and hard-working, which requires high amounts of energy; in fact, the digestive system can even drain energy needed for healing, repair and general maintenance of the body. Therefore, it makes sense to give it a vacation once in awhile.
Fasting Help Your HeartFasting for a day once a month may prevent heart disease and insulin resistance, the precursor to diabetes, according to two studies from Utah’s Intermountain Medical Center presented recently at the American College of Cardiology’s scientific sessions. When researchers looked at the habits of 200 men and women, they found that those who fasted once a month were 58 percent less likely to have heart disease than those who didn’t (after they controlled for factors such as age, smoking status, and high blood pressure). They then set out to understand why.
In a smaller study, the scientists measured various blood levels in 30 healthy adults after one day when they fasted and one day when they ate normally. After they fasted, participants had huge increases in human growth hormone (HGH) — 13-fold in women and 20-fold in men, among other changes. HGH protects lean muscle mass and encourages the body to burn fat stores instead. “During fasting, your fat cells are being metabolized and used as fuel,” says Horne. “If fat is being used for fuel, in the long run you have fewer fat cells in your body.” This may mean less insulin resistance and a lower risk of heart disease later in life.
Fasting Cut Cancer RiskPeriods of fasting did slow the rate of cell division (a measure of cancer risk) in mice, according to an American Journal of Physiology study. The researchers aren’t sure why, but say it may result from a decrease in growth factors that results from nutrient deprivation. But since the science is preliminary, you shouldn’t fast solely for cancer-prevention purposes until there is more definitive research on humans.
So these are some of the major benefits of fasting.If you do wish to add some more in this list let us know through your comments.Thanks.