The Benefits of Fasting

Benefits of Fasting

People have fasted for spiritual healing since ancient times. Today, there are many people claiming that there are also many health benefits of fasting. Research indicates that short fasts, lasting anywhere from 20 to 36 hours can reduce risks for heart disease, diabetes and maybe even cancer.

Contrary to popular belief, going without food for several hours does not cause your metabolism to slow down nor does it affect with your blood sugar. Short fasts actually improve insulin sensitivity which means that cells become more responsive to insulin. Blood sugar levels become more regulated and your pancreas doesn't have to work as hard. Loss of insulin sensitivity can lead to both heart disease and diabetes.

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Short fasts also reduce oxidative stress and cell inflammation. There's even some research suggesting that fasting slows the aging process within the mitochondria of cells. All of this knowledge is still relatively new and studies are still being conducted, but there are a lot of people who practise intermittent fasting as an anti-aging strategy. So that means that possible ant-aging can also be added to the long list of benefits of fasting.

Some people fast once a week, while others fast every other day. Interestingly, you can get the same metabolic benefits even if you increase caloric intake when you're not fasting. This indicates that eating less is not the key, but going longer between meals.

Fasting for Weight Loss

When people occassionally skip a meal, they usually eat more at the next meal. Fasters, however, never really make up the calories when they return to eating freely. I realize that this goes against everything you've heard, but skipping meals for an entire day can actually be an effective method for losing weight. Weight loss is definitely one of the benefits of fasting and in fact one of the main reasons of fasting.

When Not to Fast

If you're severely underweight, diabetic,  pregnant, have a serious medical condition, or are recovering from recent surgery, then you really shouldn't fast without first consulting your physician. People with medical conditions are often exempt from religious fasting obligations. However, if these conditions do not apply to you and you think you 'd like to try an occasional fast, here are some guidelines you should follow:

Stay In control.

Don't try to lose all the targeted weight in one session. Fasting for 20 hours at a time is enough to have a rather large impact on insulin sensitivity and other metabolic functions.

Stay hydrated.

If you're fasting for Ramadan or Yom Kippur you're invariably required go without water throughout the fast. Although no lasting effects will result, you will often end up somewhat dehydrated. That's why Ramadan fasts traditionally begin or end with some form of hydration. You can eat soups, and fruit, or consume large amounts of water. However, if you're not fasting for religious reasons, you should drink plenty of water during your fast.

Refrain from vigorous exercise.

It is perfectly fine to engage in moderate exercise such as walking, but don't consider running a marathon or hiking over a mountain. Your body does not have enough energy to attempt something like this.

Avoid operating heavy machinery.

Heavy machinery (even automobiles) should be avoided until you know how you feel while fasting. On rare occaissions fasting may cause unforseen effects which may limit the cognitive abilities necessary.

Eat high nutrition meals on non-fasting days.

If you're going to eat less, you need to make sure that you still get the nutrition you need in the meals you do it. It stands to reason-lower volume, higher content.

Know when to stop.

If your weight goes below where you want it to be, you need to adjust your fasting schedule so that it is more spread out.

Juice Fasting

Juice fasting is simply a variation from regular fasting. The reasons for juice fasting include all of the same reasons for regular fasting, but are normally in order to detoxify the body. These types of fasts can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Juices consumed during these periods are very nutritious. They are made from freshly squeezed fruits and vegetables and sometimes contain other nutritious ingredients.
Because pure juice contains little to no fiber, juice fasters often include psylium fiber in the juice mixture. They may also perform enemas or take laxatives during their fast to aid in regular bowel movements. Salt deficiency may also result due to the low levels of sodium found in fruits and vegetables. In order to overcome this dilemma, table salt (in low doses) may also be added to juice mixtures.

Click here to see some recipes for fasting juices.

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