The benefits of fasting are numerous. Fasting has long been used for its dietary and therapeutic properties. A diet of several days would indeed regenerate the body, purify the skin, or even improve its well-being. In this article, we’ll explore ten benefits of fasting that will surprise you.
Before dealing with the benefits of fasting, here is a brief definition of fasting.
1. What is fasting?
Fasting consists of stopping to eat, for a day or several weeks, and living on the reserves of the organism. Originally, it is a religious ritual associated with prayer and alms. Muslims practice it during Ramadan, Jews during Yom Kippur, and Catholics during Lent. In ancient times, philosophers like Socrates and Plato also chose to fast to improve their intellectual performance. Then, over the centuries, this practice began to be associated with hunger strikes carried out by peaceful demonstrators, the best known of course being Gandhi. But in recent years and the detox fashion, fasting has returned to the front of the stage for its possible therapeutic virtues.
2. What happens in our body when we stop eating?
When you stop eating, a metabolic process takes place quickly to mobilize the body’s fat stores. The brain, which needs glucose, uses fat stores from adipose tissue. It then transforms the triglycerides into glycerol, which in turn becomes glucose. If the fast lasts too long, the body will tap into the muscles to produce it. In doing so, it will use proteins that will transform into amino acids and then into glucose. This is the neoglucogenesis phase (synthesis of glucose from non-carbohydrate precursors).
3. Prepare fasting
Fasting is not a practice to be done lightly. If you plan to fast for several consecutive days, prepare your body in advance so as not to traumatize it. Start by banning hard-to-digest foods, like red meat, for example. Forget sodas, alcoholic beverages, coffee, salt, and sweet desserts that thirst and lower blood sugar levels after a few hours, and finally, choose well-cooked food and drink enough water to stay hydrated on the first day of fasting.
4. Benefits of fasting:
Several studies, designed to determine the efficacy and safety of fasting. Scientists conclude that it could be an interesting complementary treatment, they generally specify that additional studies will be necessary to validate its effectiveness. Here are some of the benefits of fasting:
4.1 The digestive system at rest
Often abused by an unbalanced or too rich diet, the digestive system takes a rest thanks to fasting: The liver and the walls of the intestine regenerate, the pancreas and the stomach are put to rest, and the intestinal flora rebalances. By promoting the elimination of all toxins from the body, fasting becomes a real detox.
4.2 Fasting helps reduce blood sugar levels
One of the important benefits of fasting is that it increases glucose breakdown and energy production for the body, which lowers insulin production. This helps the pancreas to relax and helps increase glycogen production to facilitate the breakdown of glucose. Thus, fasting helps to reduce blood sugar levels.
If it should not be considered a diet, fasting must necessarily result in weight loss. When we consume more calories than our body needs, the excess is stored as fat. During the fast, the body draws directly from these reserves and burns calories.
4.4 An opportunity to rid the body of wastes
Toxic substances, enhance liver health and immunity, and combat infections. It was also found that most people usually follow a healthy lifestyle in Ramadan, including their appetite for eating vegetables and fruits, and antioxidant sources that support immunity.
4.5 Contribute to the treatment of hypertension
Two trials aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of medically supervised fasting in the treatment of hypertension have been published. In both cases, the patients consumed only fruits and vegetables for 2 to 3 days, and then, only water for the next 10 to 11 days. They completed the program with a 6 to 7 days vegetarian diet. The 174 patients in the first trial, had high blood pressure and were not taking medication, the 68 patients in the second trial had only borderline blood pressure. The results of the 2 studies indicate a statistically significant decrease in blood pressure. In addition, 89% of subjects in the first study and 82% of those in the second had normal pressure values at the end of the intervention.
4.6 Reduce chronic pain
An observational study published in 2005, assessed the feasibility and effectiveness of integrating fasting therapy in patients with chronic pain syndrome (rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, musculoskeletal system pain, irritable bowel syndrome, lung disease, migraine, headache, etc.) All patients received acupuncture, hydrotherapy, various body-mind approaches, and attended nutrition and lifestyle classes. They were also offered to participate in a modified 7-days fast. The exclusive consumption of 2 liters of liquid per day (mineral water, fruit juice, tea, and vegetable broth) provided a total of 350 calories. Upon discharge from the hospital, patients who fasted reported a decrease in their main symptom significantly greater than that of other patients. No serious side effects were reported.
4.7 Fasting protects from tumors
With prolonged periods of fasting, some cells of the body are consumed as a result of hunger and thirst, but fasting begins with the consumption of weak and damaged cells, which contain defects, and the body gets rid of them (if they are left, they may cause tumors later).
4.8 Fasting helps overcome addiction problems
Some researchers have confirmed that fasting helps overcome addiction problems for nicotine, caffeine, and others. Although there are some regimens that help to treat addiction cases, fasting has an effective role in such cases.
4.9 Fasting helps to increase fat burning
Where the first response to the body during fasting is to break down glucose, this makes it easier to break down fats to produce the energy needed for the body, especially the fats stored in the kidneys and muscles.
4.10 New skin
Stress, fatigue, unbalanced diet, the excess is reflected on the skin by the appearance of pimples, dark circles, a dull complexion, excess sebum. When fasting, the intestinal flora is at rest; it is no longer in contact with toxic food and rebalances. The production of sebum is therefore reduced, the impurities disappear, the skin regenerates and becomes smoother. However, doctors warn; if the fast is too long, it can deepen wrinkles. The regeneration of the body also benefits the hair, which becomes fortified and easier to comb. As for the teeth, they gain whiteness.
5. Side effects of fasting
Despite the benefits of fasting, fasting is contraindicated in cases of fatigue, eating disorders, weak immune system, heart disorders, nutritional deficiencies, kidney disease, cancer, pregnancy. It is also not recommended to fast in case of psychosis, diabetes, addictions.
If you are on medication, please ask your doctor for advice before starting a fast.
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Originally published on Live Positively.