THE BENEFITS OF FASTING

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Food. This simple word can cause a large emotional trigger in the majority of people. With so many different cuisines, restaurants, and commercials, eating is an activity basically shoved down our throats. In fact, if you take away our food you are downright hangry.

Not eat? Not me.

It’s not well known that we humans don’t actually need to eat every day. Most people’s response would be, “absolutely not”, “I need food to live”, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, or my all-time favorite, “I WOULD DIE!”    No you wouldn’t.

Fasting is the willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food and drinks for an extended period of time

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasting)

Your body can do many amazing things when it isn’t constantly having to digest meals. In fact, there are several benefits to refraining from food.  When in a fasted state your body has an increase of adiponectin. (a protein module that helps dictate what it will do with different energy sources). Higher levels of adiponectin results in lower levels of body fat. So if weight loss is the goal then a certain type of fasting could be ideal. If longevity is the goal another type could be for you. There is also a form that could aid you in dealing with any type of sickness and/or disease. Different methods aid in different results.

There is a range of fasting types and they include intermittent, prolonged which includes water and dry fasting, also juice fasting, bone broth, and even the snake diet.

For this particular article, I’ll be covering the most common fast which includes intermittent and prolonged fasting.   

INTERMITTENT FASTING

Intermittent is not a diet but a pattern of eating. It’s a way of scheduling your meal so you get the most out of them. The most common one would be the 16:8 method. This method is 16 hours of abstaining from food and only consuming water, black coffee and other 0 calorie drinks, and your “feed” window would be in the rest of the 8 hours. Once people feel comfortable in this method they usually increase their fasting window to 18, 20 and even 22 hours.   Prolonged fasting can be a water fast or a dry fast. There are also other types, of fasts that include a 24 hour fast or longer. The 5:2 method is abstaining from food for 24 hours two times a week and eating regularly on the other five days. It was popularized by British journalist Michael Mosley. Water fasting is far more common and usually exceeds 24-72 hours. Some people even go as long as 21 days. Though medical supervision is advised.

16:8 method

DRY FASTING

Dry fasting is the more advanced form of fasting and should only be attempted by season fasters and usually under doctor supervision. There are more risks involved with dry fast exceeding 24 hours. This method is appealing because it speeds up the cellular process of water fasting. A lot of doctors and health specialists believe that a 24 hour dry fast is equivalent to a three-day water fast. Though more studies are actually done on water fasting, more people are growing interested in this once extreme method.   

THE SCIENCE OF FASTING

The benefits of fasting are incredible when you look at the science behind it. Abstaining from food promotes blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance. A study in 10 people with type two diabetes shows that short term intermittent fasting can drastically decrease blood sugar levels. Alternate day refraining from food is effective in limiting calorie intake and reducing insulin levels. Research also states that it can decrease levels of inflammation. In a study of 50 healthy adults who practiced intermittent fasting for one month significantly decreased their levels of inflammatory marks. In a fasted state we produce a lot of BDNF, ( Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) Which helps the brain grow. We have an increase in synaptic plasticity (SP). Neurons in our brain have synapse, (the connection between 2 neurons). More SP means a more solidified connection.   

Abstaining from food makes your body tap into your fat stores in the body. We usually have two sources of energy; sugar and fat. Most of us are in sugar-burning mode the majority of the time, and we don’t typically use our sugar stores completely before we start chowing down on our next meal. Since it’s easier for our bodies to burn sugar, that is what our body will use most the time if it’s available.

Once all available glycogen is used up, our body switches to fat as an energy source. In a fasted state our body begins to solely run on fat. Hence, weight loss.  Fasting is an amazing tool to help with weight loss, get healthy, and overall longevity. Fasting may sound taboo, but it actually has a lot of scientific research behind it.

WHO SHOULD NOT FAST

Of course, there are people that should not fast including pregnant women or people with eating disorders and other diseases that need to be discussed specifically with your doctor. When starting any new diet or lifestyle change research and medical advice should always be on the top of your list. Prolonged fasting needs certain types of vitamins such as potassium and magnesium. There are risk factors and you need to be in good health. Fasting done right can change your life.

Look for more detailed articles about the different types of fasting and a break down of risks and detoxing symptoms your body can go through.

About the author

Article written by: Mariah Scarborough

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