Fasting is a very well-known activity. People have fasted for thousands of years as a practice that is central to their cultures and religions. Even in the present day, many religions still practice fasting, such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc.
However, fasting is not limited to the confines of religious practices. In the last few decades, there has been a dramatic rise in the popularity and practice of fasting. This increased interest is because people have discovered the health benefits of fasting.
Scientists and researchers have gathered sufficient scientific evidence to prove that fasting provides many health benefits. There are numerous types of fasting, each one with its own unique set of rules. Of all of these, intermittent fasting is easily the most popular.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a way of eating that designates periods for eating and for fasting. Science shows that people who practice any of the different stages of intermittent fasting are exposed to many health benefits.
The most popular approaches to intermittent fasting are the 16:8 approach, which requires having all the day’s meals within an eight-hour window and fasting for the remaining 16 hours. There is also the 5:2, where five days of the week are spent eating regularly, and two are spent strictly eating only 500 to 600 calories per day.
Now, what are the health benefits that can drive someone to take on a practice that appears to be stressful and unnecessary? Why not simply opt for a traditional diet?
Well, listed below are the health benefits of fasting:
1. Weight Loss
Weight-loss products are popular all over the world because weight is taken seriously, both for health and beauty reasons. Fasting is a very effective way to lose weight, and here’s how it works:
Your body needs fuel to run, and it gets the required fuel from the food that you eat. When you eat, your body converts the food to fuel, and the excess is turned into fat and stored. This is what causes weight gain.
What happens when you fast is that there is no food for your body to turn into energy, forcing your body to convert the previously-stored fats into fuel. This process is called lipolysis.
With fasting, you lose weight without burning into your muscles, making fasting a very effective method of weight loss.
2. Increased Longevity
Many studies have proven that fasting can help you live a longer life. There are many reasons for this, but the most glaring has to be the effects of fasting on your body’s metabolism.
As you age, your body’s metabolism will begin to slow down and slowly lose muscle tissue. This is a process called sarcopenia.
What fasting does is work to speed up your metabolism, which, in turn, prevents muscle tissue loss and degeneration.
Another way fasting increases longevity is autophagy. As you grow older, your cells also grow older, and as such, their performance decreases. This is what causes aging. Through autophagy, your body is able to break down old cellular material within the cells.
Autophagy allows the cell to self recycle, thereby rejuvenating the mitochondria, enabling the cells to function at optimal performance once again. This helps a lot in slowing down aging.
Fasting also triggers the release of growth hormones, causing bone strength to increase and improve protein synthesis.
Another benefit of fasting is that it detoxifies the body. When we eat processed foods, the additives in these foods are absorbed into our system, many of which are toxic. We digest and absorb these toxins into our body when we digest food, our body goes on to store these toxins in fat deposits.
When you fast, your body experiences nutritional deprivation and responds to it as if to a threat. Your brain activates adaptive stress responses to deal with this problem. The brain recognizes the absence of food and works to find ways to provide your body with its needed nutrition.
Now, your brain needs to keep metabolism running, so what happens is that your brain starts to convert glycogen into energy. Because glycogen is not a reliable source of energy, after about 12 hours, you no longer have enough glycogen to nourish you. This forces the body to find another source of energy, which is the body’s fat deposit.
When fat deposits are burnt to provide energy, it causes the toxins stored within the fats to be released. The body then proceeds to get rid of these toxins.
There are many other benefits of fasting, including a boost in brain power, reduced insulin resistance, lower risk of cardiovascular issues, and others.
There are other benefits of fasting not mentioned in this article. Fasting offers a way to a healthier lifestyle and a happier life in general. While you should consult a medical professional before undertaking any fasting exercise, fasting is something you should seriously consider doing