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10 Benefits of Fasting That Will Surprise You

10 Benefits of Fasting That Will Surprise You

Is it a good thing to ‘starve’ yourself each day, or a few days of the week? Well, a tonne of evidence indicates that timed periods of fasting are a good thing.[1]

Starvation literally means starvation. It doesn’t mean skipping a meal or not eating for 24 hours. Or not eating for three days even. The belief that meal skipping or short-term fasting causes “starvation mode” is so completely ridiculous and absurd that it makes me want to jump out the window. – Martin Berkhan

Fasting has become increasingly popular over the years, especially among the health community. Whilst most health practitioners are afraid to recommend eating less due to the stigma involved, it still doesn’t alleviate the incredible benefits of fasting when used sensibly.

In this article, we’ll explore 10 benefits of fasting that will surprise you, and how you can incorporate them into your own life.

1. Fasting Helps Weight Loss

    Photo credit: Source

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    Fasting can be a safe way to lose weight as many studies have shown that intermittent fasting – fasting that is controlled within a set number of hours – allows the body to burn through fat cells more effectively than just regular dieting.

    Intermittent fasting allows the body to use fat as it’s primary source of energy instead of sugar. Many athletes now use fasting as means to hitting low body fat percentages for competitions.[2]

    2. Fasting Improves Insulin Sensitivity

    Fasting has shown to have a positive effect on insulin sensitivity,[3] allowing you to tolerate carbohydrates (sugar) better than if you didn’t fast. A study showed that after periods of fasting, insulin becomes more effective in telling cells to take up glucose from blood.[4]

    3. Fasting Speeds Up The Metabolism

    Intermittent fasting gives your digestive system a rest, and this can energise your metabolism to burn through calories more efficiently. If your digestion is poor, this can effect your ability to metabolise food and burn fat. Intermittent fasts can regulate your digestion and promote healthy bowel function, thus improving your metabolic function.

    4. Fasting Promotes Longevity

    Believe it or not, the less you eat the longer you will live. Studies have shown how the lifespan of people in certain cultures increased due to their diets[5]

    However, we don’t need to live amongst a foreign community to reap the benefits of fasting. One of the primary effects of ageing is a slower metabolism, the younger your body is, the faster and more efficient your metabolism. The less you eat, the less toll it takes on your digestive system.

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    5. Fasting Improves Hunger

    Just think about this, can you actually experience real hunger if you eat a meal every 3-4 hours? Of course you can’t. In fact, to experience the true nature of hunger, this would take anything from 12 to even 24 hours.

    Fasting helps to regulate the hormones in your body so that you experience what true hunger is. We know that obese individuals do not receive the correct signals to let them know they are full due excessive eating patterns.[6]

    Think of fasting as a reset button: the longer you fast, the more your body can regulate itself to release the correct hormones, so that you can experience what real hunger is. Not to mention, when your hormones are working correctly, you get full quicker.[7]

    6. Fasting Improves Your Eating Patterns

    Fasting can be a helpful practice for those who suffer with binge eating disorders, and for those who find it difficult to establish a correct eating pattern due to work and other priorities.

    With intermittent fasting going all afternoon without a meal is okay and it can allow you to eat at a set time that fits your lifestyle. Also, for anyone who wants to prevent binge eating, you can establish a set time in where you allow yourself to eat your daily amount of calories in one sitting, and then not eat till the following day.

    7. Fasting Improves Your Brain Function

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      Photo credit: Source

      Fasting has shown to improve brain function because it boosts the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF.)[8]

      BDNF activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. This protein also protects your brain cells from changes associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

      8. Fasting Improves Your Immune System

      Intermittent fasting improves the immune system because it reduces free radical damage, regulates inflammatory conditions in the body and starves off cancer cell formation.[9]

      In nature, when animals get sick they stop eating and instead focus on resting. This is a primal instinct to reduce stress on their internal system so their body can fight off infection. We humans are the only species who look for food when we are ill, even when we do not need it.

      9. Fasting Contributes To Self-Enlightenment

      Fasting has helped many people feel more connected to life during the practices reading, meditation, yoga and martial arts etc. With no food in the digestive system, this makes room for more energy in the body – the digestive is one of the most energy absorbing systems in the body.

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      Fasting for self-enlightenment allows us to feel better both consciously and physically. With a lighter body and a clearer mind we become more aware and grateful for the things around us.

      10. Fasting Helps Clear The Skin And Prevent Acne

        Photo credit: Source

        Fasting can help clear the skin because with the body temporarily freed from digestion, it’s able to focus its regenerative energies on other systems.[10]

        Not eating anything for just one day has shown to help the body clean up the toxins and regulate the functioning of other organs of the body like liver, kidneys and other parts.

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

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        Last Updated on March 25, 2020

        How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

        How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

        When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

        So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

        1. Exercise

        It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

        2. Drink in Moderation

        I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

        3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

        Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

        4. Watch Less Television

        A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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        Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

        5. Eat Less Red Meat

        Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

        If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

        6. Don’t Smoke

        This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

        7. Socialize

        Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

        8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

        Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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        9. Be Optimistic

        Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

        10. Own a Pet

        Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

        11. Drink Coffee

        Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

        12. Eat Less

        Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

        13. Meditate

        Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

        Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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        How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

        14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

        Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

        15. Laugh Often

        Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

        16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

        Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

        17. Cook Your Own Food

        When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

        Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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        18. Eat Mushrooms

        Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

        19. Floss

        Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

        20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

        Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

        Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

        21. Have Sex

        Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

        More Health Tips

        Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

        Reference

        [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
        [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
        [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
        [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
        [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
        [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
        [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
        [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
        [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
        [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
        [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
        [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
        [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
        [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
        [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
        [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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