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Hi guys, it’s May already! Time flies and we are through with 5 months of the year. Feels unreal, doesn’t it?
Anyway, I think now is a perfect time to write about fasting and it benefits. With all of us staying at home, it is quite easy to get carried away and binge-eat.
I personally have been watching my food portions during this circuit-breaker period in Singapore (lockdown/stay at home whatever you call it). Other than that, like always, I fast once a week, on Mondays. It was around 4 years back that I started fasting a day a week, on a regular basis. Initially I ate food allowed for the vrat/upwas but I didn’t feel a lot of difference. When I began fasting by limiting my food intake to minimal (usually fruits/dry fruits & lots of water), I began to see the benefits.
Fasting is a concept which has been practiced for centuries in India in the form of vrat/upwas and on special occasions. It is also practiced in other religions & cultures across the globe.
Fasting may or may not be done for religious purposes, but it can certainly be done for health reasons.
There are various types of fasting and intermittent fasting has gained a lot of traction in today’s world with a lot of people opting for it. Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. There are many different types of intermittent fasting, such as the 12 hour intermittent fasting or the 16:8 or 5:2 methods.
Irrespective of the type of fasting, the benefits attached to it are innumerable.
Here are 5 benefits of fasting:
- Fasting improves your immune system
Fasting improves the immune system because it reduces free radical damage, regulates inflammatory conditions in the body and starves off cancer cell formation.
In nature, when animals get sick they stop eating and instead focus on resting. This is a primal instinct to reduce stress on their internal system so their body can fight off infection.
Our immunity improves if there is a faster regeneration of cells, which happens when you fast.
According to one study, a three day fast can lead to the regeneration of the entire immune system and the production of totally brand new white blood cells which have a stronger ability to fight disease.
How cool is that?
2. Fasting aids weight loss & improves metabolism.
Fasting can be a great way to lose weight as many studies have shown that fasting allows the body to burn through fat cells more effectively than just regular dieting.
Fasting allows the body to use fat as it’s primary source of energy instead of carbohydrates. Many athletes use fasting as means to hitting low body fat percentages for competitions.
Fasting also gives our digestive system a rest, and this can energise our metabolism to burn calories more efficiently. If our digestion is poor, this can effect our ability to metabolise food and burn fat. Fasts can regulate our digestion and promote healthy bowel movements, thus improving our metabolic function.
3. Fasting Can Reduce Insulin Resistance, Lowering Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has become incredibly common in recent times with unhealthy lifestyles & high amount of sugar intake in people due to improper diet and over consumption of processed food.
The main feature of Type 2 Diabetes is high blood sugar levels in the context of insulin resistance.
Anything that reduces insulin resistance should help lower blood sugar levels and protect against type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, fasting has been shown to have major benefits for insulin resistance and lead to an impressive reduction in blood sugar levels.
Thus, because fasting is extremely beneficial in reducing insulin resistance & increasing insulin sensitivity, which can be of much significance in lowering blood sugar levels, it thereby proves to be helpful in reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
4. Fasting Helps Clear The Skin And Prevent Acne
Fasting can help clear the skin because with the body temporarily freed from digestion, it’s able to focus its regenerative energies on other systems.
Not eating anything for a while has shown to help the body clean up the toxins and regulate the functioning of other organs of the body like liver, kidneys and other parts.
Since the digestive system gets detoxified and bowel function improves, the skin also benefits from it and flushes out the toxins it has accumulated thus becoming clearer and healthier.
5. Fasting Improves Your Brain Function
Fasting has shown to improve brain function 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.
Ageing of brain cells can slow down, thus increasing mental alertness & awareness which helps to improve brain function.
These were a few health benefits of fasting. There are numerous benefits of fasting apart from the 5 listed here. Fasting is known to improve heart health, reduce risk of cancer and also helps in regulate hormones. The list of it’s benefits is very long.
It doesn’t matter what type of fasting you practice; intermittent or not, any form of fasting is beneficial.
I personally have experienced feeling mentally alert and more active when I fast. My ‘fast day’ is usually more productive and more creative than the rest. I feel quite energetic as well.
Fasting should be done carefully and it does not mean starving yourself. Also, prolonged period of fasting is counter-intuitive and can cause more harm than good.
Fasting should only be done once or twice a week with regular meal days in between.
Anyone with diagnosed medical conditions and on specific medications should avoid fasting. Fasting should also be avoided by underweight people, people with eating disorders and by pregnant or lactating women.
Fasting can also feel initially tough to those who have never done it before and any extreme form of fasting should be avoided. The body takes time to adjust itself to fasting and it is important to be gentle with your body.
Tht said, I hope you found the article useful and I hope you do give some form of fasting a try, keeping in mind your health & body capability too! 🙂