Fasting in Health and During Disease

Fasting is the willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. Although fasting is sometimes viewed as unhealthy, depriving, or only restricted to religious reasons, however short term fasting offers excellent health benefits. As research grows towards this area of health, fasting is being more widely accepted as a legitimate means to manage weight and prevent disease. It is important at the same time that fasting is done in proper and healthy manner.

The Science of Fasting

The benefits of fasting are now supported by a large body of evidence, although the most remarkable data has been recorded in studies with animals. Still, these findings are promising for humans. Most importantly, fasting cleanses toxins of our body and forces cell processes that are not usually stimulated while a steady stream of fuel from food is all the time present.The important biological processes and their impacts on our body are listed below.

  1. While fasting, body does not have its usual access to glucose, forcing cells to alternate to other means and materials of producing energy. As a result, the body starts glucogenesis that is a natural process of producing its own sugar. Whereas the liver helps by converting non carbohydrate materials like lactate, amino acids, and fats to glucose energy.

  2. Since our bodies preserve energy during fasting, our basal metabolic rate becomes more efficient, in this way lowering our heart rate and blood pressure. The basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy our bodies burn while resting.

  3. Ketosis is another process occurring later into the fast cycle. This happens when the body burns stored fat as a primary power source. This is the best mode for weight loss as well as balancing blood sugar levels.

  4. Fasting can put the body under mild stress, making our cells adjusted to enhance their ability to manage and thus becoming strong. This process is similar to when we stress our muscles and cardio-vascular system while exercising. The same as with exercise, our body grows stronger during these processes while there is an adequate time to rest and recover. That is why short term fasting is recommended.

Types of Fasting

Three types of calorie restriction, or fasting, have demonstrated positive effects on longevity:

Time-Restricted feeding

It is the process of limiting calorie intake for a specific period of time that aligns with our circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is often referred to as our “body clock”, the natural cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep, rise, eat, and more. Eating meals only during an 8 to 12 hour period each day while fasting between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., is an example of aligning with our circadian rhythm. Body systems work better when synchronized with one another; snacking at midnight when our body usually sleeps damages s our natural repair system

Intermittent Calorie Restriction

it is the practice of reducing the number of calories consumed during a day. Research focused on a two day diet where calories are reduced in half and carbohydrates are limited for two consecutive days during a week. This approach sets the body through short and exhaustive therapy. The intermittent calorie restriction approach also takes us back towards that we do not need to consume regularly. However when we do consume we can wisely choose and continue with our normal activities and exercise with reduced fuel.

Periodic Fasting by means of Fasting Mimicking Diets

This means limited calorie intake for three to five days, stimulating the cells to use up glycogen reserves and begin ketosis. Although this can be done without eating food, it is not considered a safe option. A specific five day calorie limited diet of about 1,000 calories per day is enough to mimic fasting without using up nutrients. It is considered that this method is better to the two day fast, allowing the body to enter ketosis and start a true cleanse.

What are Health Benefits of Fasting

Although fasting can be difficult and sometimes uncomfortable, the mental and physical benefits that can be gained are listed below:

  • It boosts cognitive performance
  • It protect from obesity and related chronic diseases
  • It reduce inflammation
  • It improves overall fitness
  • It support weight loss
  • It decrease the risk of metabolic diseases
  • Benefit for cancer patients: A recent study on cancer with mice explains that fasting in chemotherapy can jump starts the immune system exposing the cancer cells. The answer may be that fasting Eliminates the body from old, toxic cells and replaces them with new, healthy ones. Traditionally, cancer patients are told to increase nutrients and caloric intake while they undergo chemotherapy treatments however this approach might needs to be reviewed.

Conclusion

A healthy lifestyle, good nutrition and adequate exercise leads to healthy living. Research has proved that short term fasting can also offer excellent health benefits. Fasting cleanses our body of toxins while engaging cells into processes that are not usually stimulated when a steady stream of fuel from food is always present. Different types of calorie restrictions give different mental and physical benefits