Is Fasting really bad for you! 2019 understanding about Fasting
Fasting is commonly associated with the month of Ramadan. As you read this, billions of Muslims around the world are Fasting that involves abstaining from food and drink from dawn until the dusk for the next 30 days. While fasting for the month of Ramadan is down to spiritual beliefs, many of us also hope that it benefits our health. However, does it?
This eating plan abstaining from food and drink from dawn until the dusk can not only help people lose weight, but it offers an array of other health benefits.
Studies on intermittent fasting show that not only do people see improvements in blood pressure and their cholesterol levels, but also in their insulin sensitivity.
Fasting for a month may reduce the risk of diabetes among people at high risk for the condition.
Another study, conducted by Dr. Valter Longo and colleagues from the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, found more extended periods of fasting – 18 to 24 hours- may even “reboot” the immune system, clearing out old immune cells and regenerating new ones – a process they say could protect against cell damage caused by factors such as ageing and chemotherapy.
So let us see what the mechanisms are underlying the suggested health benefits of fasting?
The potential benefits of intermittent fasting
1. Burns fat and reduce cholesterol:
Since the body is unable to get its energy from food during fasting, it dips into glucose that is stored in the liver and muscles. This begins around 8 hours after the last meal is consumed. When the stored glucose has been used up, the body then begins to burn fat as a source of energy, which can result in weight loss.
As well as aiding weight loss, Dr Razeen Mahroof, of the University of Oxford in the UK, explains that the use of fat for energy can help preserve muscle and reduce cholesterol levels.
2. Increases Growth Hormone Secretion:
Human growth hormone (HGH) is a type of protein hormone that is central to many aspects of your health. In fact, research shows that this vital hormone is involved in growth, metabolism, weight loss and muscle strength.
Several studies have found that fasting could naturally increase HGH levels. One study in 11 healthy adults showed that fasting for 24 hours significantly increased levels of HGH. Another small study in nine men found that fasting for just two days led to a 5-fold increase in the HGH production rate.
Plus, fasting may help maintain steady blood sugar and insulin levels throughout the day, which may further optimize levels of HGH, as some research has found that sustaining increased levels of insulin may reduce HGH levels.
3. Improve immune:
As mentioned previously that prolonged fasting may also be useful for regenerating immune cells. When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged. In one of the studies, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, the team found that repeated cycles of 2-4 days without food over six months destroyed the old and damaged immune cells in mice and generated new ones.
What is more, the team found that cancer patients who fasted for three days before chemotherapy were protected against immune system damage that can be caused by the treatment, which they attribute to immune cell regeneration.
“The good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting.” “Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or ageing, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.”
4. May Extend Longevity
Several animal studies have found promising results on the potential lifespan-extending effects of fasting.
In one study, rats that fasted every other day experienced a delayed rate of ageing and lived 83% longer than rats that didn’t fast.
Other animal studies have had similar findings, reporting that fasting could be useful in increasing longevity and survival rates. However, current research is still limited to animal studies. Further studies are needed to understand how fasting may impact longevity and ageing in humans.
5. Detox your body:
A detoxification process also occurs, because any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body,” he adds, noting that after a few days of fasting, higher levels of endorphins – “feel-good” hormones – are produced in the blood, which can have a positive impact on mental well-being.
However, current research is showing that some of these benefits may only be realized after more extended periods of fasting – around 20-24 hours, depending on your activity levels. For example, if you’re relatively sedentary during the fast, you may need the full 20-24 hours without food to realize the benefits. However, if you’re very active, or you exercise purposefully during the fasted state, you may be able to enjoy the same benefits after only 16-20 hours without food.
With the potential health benefits of fasting widely hailed by nutritionists worldwide, it is no wonder many of us are putting our love of food to one side to give it a try.