Fasting Facts – Health benefits of fasting
Fasting is one of the best and oldest measures known to man, not only for disease but for soul also. Historical literature makes frequent reference to fasts. From the Bible we learn that Moses, Elijah and Christ each fasted forty days with no bad effects.
People are generally confused about the term fasting. They don’t know the difference between fasting and starving. As a short note:
Fasting is not starving. Fasting is to remain without food when the body is not in such a condition that it can digest or assimilate the food properly. On the other hand, starving is to go without food when the body is in need of food for nourishment and building.
Fasting can result in great health benefits, but if practiced properly. People generally starts fasting without even understanding the basics that how it will help in improving and maintaining the health. A large number of studies have been conducted on animals that support the health benefits of fasting. Fasting has resulted in improving biomarkers of disease, reducing oxidative stress, improving learning and memory functioning.
Mark Mattson (senior investigator – National Institute on Aging, US) has also investigated that intermittent fasting also results in beneficial effects on cardiovascular system and brain in rodents.
Prolonged fasting is beneficial but should be practiced under the care of experienced professional and is only recommended for people having great mind power. For all others, intermittent fasting is the way to go.
There are several theories about why and how fasting is beneficial. One theory tells that during fasting period, cells are under mild stress and that mild stress is beneficial to their health, in the similar manner, the stress imposed on muscles during exercise is beneficial in their building. As long as you give time to body to recover, it will grow stronger. Similar is the case with cells.
A similar theory says that if you don’t eat for 10-16 hrs, your body will used its fats stored in body for energy and fatty acids called ketones will be released into the bloodstream. This results in weight loss, improvement in learning and memory functioning.
In the normal state, there is a continuous storage of body glucose in liver and muscles which help provide energy to the body. During a fast, this stored glucose is used up first to provide energy. After that, fat becomes the next source of energy for the body.
Prolonged forced fasts i.e. for several days or weeks or better to say Starving results in using protein for energy. It is clearly unhealthy. The protein being released by the breakdown of muscle make people look very thin and become very weak.