Fasting is central to many cultures and religions across the world. It is a practice in which you abstain yourself from eating or drinking or both for a certain stretch of time. There are different methods of fasting but the most prevalent of all is intermittent fasting which involves switching from fasting to eating after a set time – ranging from a few hours to a few days at a time. In recent years, fasting has seen a surge in popularity because of the number of health benefits it offers.
Backed by science, here are 8 awesome benefits of fasting!
Aids Weight Loss
Fasting can be the safest way to drop a few pounds. Various studies prove that avoiding certain foods and beverages for a certain time encourages your body to burn fat cells, resulting in weight loss over time. Research also proves that short-term fasting can enhance metabolism by boosting levels of norepinephrine – a neurotransmitter as well as a hormone that speeds up weight loss.
Fasting is considered as a substitute for a calorie restriction diet. But the former has proven to be more effective than calorie restriction because it boosts weight loss while keeping muscle tissues fully intact.
Boosts Brain Function
Another great advantage of fasting is improved brain function. It does so by increasing the production of a protein known as a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This protein plays a critical role in the survival of nerve cells, enabling them to grow, mature, and staying safe from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
During fasting, your memory, focus, learning abilities, and cognitive power are all highly increased. Various clinical studies prove that you can expect this result by maintaining intermittent fasting for months or years.
Improves the Immune System
Scientific research also shows that fasting can boost your immune system. It helps reduce the inflammation level that usually arises in body cells. During fasting, the body goes to energy conservation mode as the nutrients stop coming in. In an attempt to save energy, the body reprocesses the already-present immune cells. This later helps in the production of new healthy immune cells after the fasting period is over. These new immune cells are quite powerful as they help fight against life-threatening infections and diseases.
However, a study also shows that prolonged food and water fasting can adversely affect your immune system as it is at a higher risk of catching infections, but it is also indicated that the immune system reverts back to a much better state after opening the fast with loads of water and healthy, nutritious food.
Fasting is also linked to a longer life. According to a rat study, fasting every other day led to a slower rate of aging and increased lifespan of the rats. Many other animal findings have had shown the same results, concluding that fasting can be effective in extending longevity. However, more research needs to be conducted in order to find out how successful fasting is in delaying aging in humans.
Improves Skin Health
This is an unexpected benefit of fasting. Not eating for a prolonged time helps clear up toxins from your skin and rejuvenate it. Intermittent fasting is ideal for those with excessive sebum that is a major cause of acne. By improving the gut system and its crucial microbiome, fasting enhances the skin to a great extent. This, in turn, eliminates the potential risk of getting annoying pimples and blackheads.
Helps Regulate the Hunger Hormone
You can’t experience true hunger if you eat a meal every few hours. You will only realize the actual nature of hunger when you are kept from food for a considerable time – anything from 12 – 24 hours. In this sense, fasting helps your body to regulate the hunger hormone – also known as Ghrelin. Your hormones function better, and when you break your fast, your body digests food more effectively.
Improves Eating Habits
This is great for those with eating disorders such as binge-eating, obesity, etc. Fasting regularly can change your eating patterns. It helps instill self-control in you, and thus, prevent excessive food indulgence. Intermittent fasting takes you back to the simple primordial system when humans ate only when they were famished. In other words, it takes the element of over-indulgence from your eating pattern and replaces it with mindful eating.
Helps You Feel Better
Fasting helps you connect to your physical as well as emotional self. Your body feels lighter and happier. Fasting also helps heal your body. You realize the importance of essential things in life, such as food and water. You become more grateful for the simple blessings in life.
Fasting for the first time may sound intimidating. But the good thing is – fasting can be done in many ways. There isn’t a specific criterion for fasting. Depending on your needs, comfort level, and goals you want to achieve, you can fast in various ways such as partial fasting, intermittent fasting, water fasting, juice fasting, etc. To get started, try exploring various types of fasting and choose the one that works best for you.