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Some people do it for spiritual reasons, but fasting could do more than just soothe your soul - it may improve your health too.
Is Fasting Healthy?
According to new research from the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans, periodic fasting reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, two of the most common chronic medical problems that affect Americans.
When researchers did two fasting studies on more than 200 individuals, they found fasting had favorable effects on their lipid levels. The participants in this study drank only water for 24 hours and then returned to their regular diet at the beginning of the next day. This type of fasting lowered LDL cholesterol (the bad one) and raised HDL (the good or "happy" cholesterol). Fasting has other compelling health benefits as well.
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During a fasted state, the body burns more fat to supply it's energy needs. This reduces the number of fat cells and boosts insulin sensitivity, which reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Participants in this study also lowered their weight, blood sugar level and triglyceride levels. Other research shows that fasting decreases inflammation, which lowers the risk of heart disease and, possibly, other chronic diseases.
Another health benefit of fasting? Fasting increases levels of human growth hormone, which helps to preserve lean body mass and muscle tissue and boosts metabolism. This helps to prevent some of the metabolic slow-down that comes when you eat less food.
The Health Benefits of Fasting: Should You Fast Regularly?
While long-term animal studies show that fasting has health benefits, most of the studies in humans have been short-term. In animals, fasting, like calorie restriction, increases life span. Whether it does for humans too remains to be seen but it looks promising. Before jumping on the fasting bandwagon, it would be nice to see a few more long-term studies. On the other hand, unless you have an underlying medical problem, a fast might be good.
If you're tempted to try fasting, it is not suggested for those who have cancer, are pregnant, breast feeding, elderly, are children, live with diabetes, hypoglycemia, or other medical problems and do not fast without consulting your doctor first. For some, a 24-hour fast has psychological benefits, once they get past their initial hunger. Some people say it gives them a sense of euphoria.
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Posted in Food Post Date 02/17/2016