How Fasting Can Improve Your Health for the Better
By Muhammed Aladdin
Fasting has been recognized by humans for the many health benefits it possesses, with improved cardiovascular health, better cell recycling, healthier blood composition, and numerous other benefits.
In recent time, a significant number of health specialists have shown by a number of animal-based studies that fasting, with its many different types, holds great promise for human overall health and longevity.
Here in the Middle East, fasting has been ingrained in our culture; from the holy month of Ramadan in Islam to the major fasting periods in the ecclesiastical calendar of Coptic Orthodox Christianity, Arabs hold the concept dear to their hearts.
There are different types of fasting; some people stay off specific types of food, others choose to withhold from eating or drinking for specific periods of time, and all, when moderated, have undeniable health benefits. Here is our pick for the top health benefits of fasting.
Improve body composition and fitness
Through the actions of the body’s intricate hormones and fat metabolism, fasting significantly contributes to the improvement of the body’s composition. For instance, many of those who are looking to lose a few pounds resort to fasting for its impact on overall weight loss and regulation of fat tissue.
Some people, athletes and fitness enthusiasts, fast intermittently for better exercise results.
Promotion of greater satiety
Fat tissues act as one of the body’s endocrine organs, which are glands responsible for the secretion of many regulatory, essential hormones. One of these hormones, leptin, affects how full a person may or may not feel. Through the action of this hormone, fasting can regulate hunger levels as well as post-meal satisfaction.
Initially, fasting pushes leptin levels to drop, however, as a person loses weight, leptin resistance decreases, and with time, the body becomes more responsive to leptin signals. In other words, a simple nutritious meal can make a person feel full.
Leptin is well-known for being the hormone responsible for satiety. However, studies have shown that it also increases the rate of secretion of thyroid hormones, which have a drastic effect on the efficiency, as well as the speed, of the body’s metabolism.
In a way, if a person’s thyroid gland is not secreting enough hormones, fasting can help boost its secretions for faster metabolism and better utilization of the body’s energy.
Support fat loss and ketosis
Ketosis, or the body’s fat burning state, is achieved either with fasting or eating a diet based on healthy fats. When the body’s food supplies are devoid of excess fats, it burns through the fat reserves for energy.
Excessive fatty tissue coating the body’s essential organs, such as the liver and kidneys, significantly debilitates their normal functioning, which could have adverse effects. Fasting, however, helps people struggling with fat burning reach ketosis faster than the usual caloric restriction.
Encourages better insulin sensitivity
It’s not all fats; when fasting, the body does not receive regular doses of sugar, which lowers the level of insulin secreted. These conditions increase the sensitivity of insulin in people with insulin resistance, significantly lowering the chances of diabetes.
Some researchers suggested that excessive fats in the diet contribute to insulin resistance, which could later develop to insulin deficiency, which is an issue that could be prevented with fasting.
Improvement of cardiovascular health
One of the main benefits of fasting is the improvement of the body’s cardiovascular health. Many suffering from metabolic syndrome-related diseases resort to fasting to regulate their blood pressure, blood composition, and immunity.
People suffering from type II diabetes and high cholesterol can find fasting very helpful in addressing some of the inherent health concerns that come with these diseases.
Lowers blood pressure
During the first week of fasting, a significantly lowered salt intake in the diet and its subsequent loss in urine lead directly to the lowering of blood pressure. Therefore, many people suffering from hypotension, or low blood pressure, can find fasting relieving.
Slow aging and enhance longevity
Researchers have shown that fasting contributes to a longer lifespan in animals as well as healthier agents. Although in humans, research is still taking its first steps, the aforementioned benefits on their own can induce healthier aging. For instance, an improved blood composition on its own can lead to longer, healthier lifespan.
An unhealthy diet filled with refined sugars, refined carbohydrates, meat, dairy, and fries directly contributes to a consistent source of free radicals such as superoxides and hydrogen peroxide, which could lead to inflammation. Letting go of a few meals can appreciably prevent food-related inflammation before it even starts.
Another way fasting decreases inflammation is by better hormone balance. Several studies have found that lower insulin levels and improved insulin sensitivity can lead to a decrease in oxidative stress caused by free radicals. In other words, it contributes directly to the detoxification processes of the body.