Fasting (refraining from eating), is usually done by people for a religious, spiritual or even a political reason. However, some people started to fast for health reasons – originally as a method of “cleansing” your body. However, more recently it has been discovered that fasting can provide some other important health benefits. While fasting for a whole day can be done safely periodically by most people, it can’t be done safely on a frequent basis. Therefore, a modified type of fasting, known as intermittent fasting, has been adopted by some to enjoy the reported health benefits of fasting. A popular format of this type of fasting is called “16/8” – where everyday you eat only during a continuous eight period of a given day (16 hours fast for each day). Four of the most major health benefits reported are discussed below.
Type 2 diabetes (also known as onset diabetes) has become a serious, large scale public health problem. This disease happens when you have too high of a level of blood sugar. This usually occurs because of consuming too much sugar combined with insulin resistance (when the body produces more and more insulin to break down the sugar in the blood). Both of these conditions damage various parts of your body and can even become fatal.
Many studies have shown that intermittent fasting lowers both the insulin and sugar levels in the blood. This can help prevent a person from becoming diabetic and also help treat existing diabetes.
Oxidative Stress occurs when you have too many unstable molecules in your body, known as “free radicals”. Free radicals adversely react with other important molecules, such as protein and DNA, and damage them. This in turn contributes to overall aging of the body and different kinds of chronic diseases. Inflammation is another bad bodily condition leading to maladies such as arthritis.
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can help fight both oxidative stress and inflammation.
As discussed above, benefits include reducing oxidative stress, inflammation, blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. All of these factors promote healthier brain functioning. Fasting also increases levels of a brain hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). A deficiency of BDNF is often associated with depression and other brain related problems.
Fasting has been shown to be responsible for the following changes in the body: – The blood levels of human growth hormone (HGH) may increase dramatically. – The body induces important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste material from cells. – There are beneficial changes in several genes and molecules related to longevity and protection against disease. There have been studies showing that fasting greatly increases the lifespan of lab animals. While this effect has not yet been proven to apply to humans, all the benefits shown for humans means that perhaps intermittent fasting could help you live a longer and healthier life.