Fasting or abstaining from food and some drinks is common. People do it to lose weight. Others fast for religious reasons during Lent or Ramadan. A few fast for genuine health improvement. My wife and I are entering Lent with a forty-hour fast – only water and unsweetened iced tea.
Fasting is the abstinence from food and calorie-laden drinks for a set time. It might be one day or longer. The longest medically supervised fast is 382 days. In 1973, a 27-year-old man, Angus Barbieri, entered a supervised fast and lost 276 lbs. His weight five years later was within 20 lbs. of his final fasting weight.
Angus consumed water daily and took some vitamin supplements as determined by his doctor. Urine and blood testing was done regularly to follow his progress. He was healthier after fasting than before he started.
Fasting can be done in smaller chunks. It is called intermittent fasting. I do intermittent fasts daily. I eat between noon and six p.m. daily. That allows an 18-hour window to fast each day. There is lots of information on-line for those who want to tailor a specific fast to their situations.
Obviously, longer term fasts will support weight loss. For some, this is a major health improvement. Fasting improves insulin sensitivity. This lowers the risk of Type II diabetes and insulin-related diseases.
It speeds up your metabolism. A twelve-hour fast daily improves longevity by increasing human growth hormone. Fasting reduces oxidative stress and inflammation. Please note, you should have balanced nutrition when you adopt of fasting lifestyle.
Fasting helps your body to regulate and stabilize hormones. It allows your body time to rest and recuperate from the continuous digestion process prevalent in eating several times a day. It improves brain function. A brain protein, BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) is enhanced during periods of extended fasts. BDNF activates your brain stem to produce more neurons. It also protects the brain against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Fasting improves your immune system. It controls free radical damage and starves cancer cell formation. Toxins constantly assault our bodies. Fasting removes the opportunity for toxins to enter the body through food and drink. It promotes cellular repair, waste removal and gene expression.
Intermittent fasting testing of animals has shown significant reductions in cardiovascular risk factors – blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and other blood sugar levels. Heart health studies evaluating fasting are ongoing.