There has been a lot of buzz lately about the many health benefits of intermittent fasting(fasting that is controlled within a set number of hours – ideally 18-24 hours). In this article, I will discuss why fasting is so healthy for you and how you can start implementing it into your routine for maximum benefits.
So why fast? Numerous studies have shown that intermittent fasting promotes great health for your body, mind, and soul. Here is a list of some of the many benefits:
1. Promotes weight loss and burns body fat.
Intermittent fasting allows the body to use fat as its main source of energy instead of glucose(sugar) by going into a state of ketosis(fat burning) once all your glucose reserves are used up.. Additionally, intermittent fasting enhances hormone function to facilitate weight loss. Lower insulin levels, higher growth hormone levels and increased amounts of norepinephrine all increase the breakdown of body fat and facilitate its use for energy. For this reason, short-term fasting actually increases your metabolic rate, helping you burn even more calories.
2. Reduces insulin resistance, lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes:
Intermittent fasting has been shown to have major benefits for insulin resistance and lead to an impressive reduction in blood sugar levels In human studies on intermittent fasting, blood sugar has been reduced by 3-6%, while insulin has been reduced by 20-31%.
3. Reduces inflammation:
Inflammation is the body’s response to outside threats like stress, injuries, infections, and other chemical toxins but chronic inflammation can cause diseases such as; asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have found that a compound produced when fasting blocks a part of the immune system involved in inflammatory disorders.
4. Reduces oxidative stress:
Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative radicals in the cell, and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease.
5. Improves brain function and promotes greater mental clarity:
Fasting has been shown to improve brain function and improve mental clarity because it boosts the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF.)
BDNF activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. This protein also protects your brain cells from changes associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
6. Promotes longevity:
As previously mentioned, fasting can cause the body to produce more Human Growth Hormone. This hormone is actually closely connected to the aging process. When the body produces less HGH, it tends to age faster too. So in effect, it is safe to conclude that fasting can help the body age more slowly
7. Prevents heart disease:
When you consume too much cholesterol, your triglyceride levels may shoot up, making you more prone to heart disease. Fasting has been known to decrease levels of bad cholesterol in the body, which means that it also decreases the formation of triglycerides. Another interesting thing to note is that fasting does nothing to the levels of good cholesterol of HDL in the body.
8. Boosts immune system:
Intermittent fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose, fat, and ketones, but it also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells that trigger stem cell regeneration of new immune cells.
9. Gives your digestive system a rest:
While the majority of disease begin in the digestive system, giving it a rest will radically improve the beneficial bacteria in your gut, which will in turn improve your immunity to such disease. Also, with no food in the digestive system, this makes room for more energy in the body – the digestive tract is one of the most energy absorbing systems in the body.
10. Enhances spirituality:
Fasting for spirituality allows us to feel better both consciously and physically. With a lighter body and a clearer mind we become more aware and grateful for the things around us.
Some tips on how to go about fasting:
If you’ve never fasted before, it could seem like a daunting task. Going a full day without food could seem intimidating and downright impossible. Here are some tips on how to go about fasting that have worked for me:
1. Don’t attempt your first fast to be 24 hours long. Shoot for 16 hours. I have found the best way to accomplish this is to eat breakfast and lunch and skip dinner. Once you’ve become comfortable skipping dinner, skip lunch too.
2. Drink lots of lemon water. Drinking lemon water will help flush the toxins out of your system while giving your body vitamins and minerals.
3. Pick a day where you don’t have a lot to do. Maybe a lazy Sunday where you can just lay around.
4. Don’t workout on fasting days. Pretty self explanatory.
5. If you get hungry, eat something. Try to make it a healthy fat so your body stays in a ketonic state and you continue to burn fat. I like eating shredded coconut or coconut oil.
6. When you “break” the fast, eat a healthy salad. The fibrous greens will help clean out your digestive system.
7. Once your body is comfortable with intermittent fasting, try to incorporate it into your routine once a week.
I hope this helps shed some light on the benefits of intermittent fasting and I wish you much success in your health and wellness journey!!