Are There Health Benefits of Fasting?


Before last week, I used to believe that the act of denying one’s self of food was strictly a religious affair with loads of spiritual connotations. However, last week, I met up with my atheist doctor friend who refused to share my sandwich with me because he was fasting. It was quite shocking and I asked him if he had changed his belief. After having a really good laugh, he told me that fasting wasn’t only for religious folks. In fact, there are a plethora of health benefits that you unconsciously enjoy when you deny yourself food and drink for some time. I’ll tell you eight of them.

Keeping you in Shape

bellySo, a good way to burn off excess fat and calories is to fast. Usually, when you eat, your body stores up fat, calories, and other substances as sources of energy. For many persons, however, they never get to use up these sources of energy and they just keep accumulating; leading to unnecessary weight gain. If you are not up for hitting the gym or engaging in any weight loss exercises just yet, a good way to begin burning off these stored up energy sources is by denying yourself food and water; in some instances.

You may think this is weird. However, nutritionists say that when you fast, you ‘starve’ your body of its usual energy supply. To continue your life functions, your body has to rely on the already stored energy sources deposited in your liver and muscles. Usually, the first substance it uses up is glucose. Glucose is the end product of carbohydrate-rich meals that you consume. Now, what happens when it uses up the glucose and you still haven’t eaten? Well, it moves on to burning off stored adipose known as glycogen or fat deposits for energy. It is this process that leads to weight loss and burning off excess calories. Cool right?

Dealing with Bad Cholesterol

High levels of bad cholesterol are bad for you. Thankfully, staying away from food for a stipulated time may be all you need to kick bad cholesterol out of your life for good. As your body burns off stored adipose for energy, it also reduces the level of unhealthy cholesterol in your system. In addition, a reduction in body cholesterol levels helps to keep your muscles fit and in shape.

Still on kicking out bad cholesterol, it is important I mention that the bad cholesterol does not leave your body alone; it is accompanied by a lot of body toxins. As your body burns off bad cholesterol, it also engages in a sort of detoxification process in which it flushes away a large number of toxins that make living really uncomfortable for you.

What about your Immune System?

immune systemThink of your immune system as a military headquarters. Now, imagine if a real military headquarters is attacked and destroyed! You know how chaotic every other thing gets especially in terms of security. Nothing is safe anymore. Now, this is exactly what will happen if you fail to keep your immune system strong enough to repel attacks from disease pathogens and infections. Thankfully, instead of pumping yourself full of antibiotic tablets, you can simply fast!

Fasting helps your body replace weak immune cells; this is called regeneration. As mentioned earlier, when you fast, you limit your body’s energy supply.  It has to maximize the little energy to sustain your life functions until you eat. This makes your body activate the energy saving mode. This is just like your phone’s battery saving mode. Your body has to turn off all unnecessary tasks consuming energy just like your phone. Nutritionists say that one way your body does this is by recycling weak and damaged immune cells and replacing them with strong and active ones.

Something with Cancer?

Apparently yes! Fasting before a chemotherapy session is highly recommended. Immune cell regeneration helps to protect cancer patients from immune cell damage during chemotherapy. In situations when the immune cells have already been damaged as a result of chemotherapy, researchers say fasting can speed up the rates of immune cells regeneration or even build a new immune system altogether.

Dealing with Depression

depressedFasting is a means of ending depression, and an extremely pocket-friendly means it is! Forget therapy; fasting is an easier way to deal with those mood swings and lonely moments. Say hello to fasting and wave goodbye to all forms of depression.  Experts say that when you fast, your body secretes and releases more endorphins, which is the hormone that contributes a great deal to keep you happy and cheerful.

Keeping your Blood Pressure in Check

Say goodbye to unnecessary panics with regards to your blood pressure level; just FAST! Denying yourself food for a while actually helps regulate your blood pressure levels; especially within the first week of the exercise. When you fast, you typically eat less of everything; including salt! Reduced salt intake helps your body regulate your blood pressure. In addition, your body experiences an increased loss of salt as you urinate. This creates a balance in your system and reduces your risk of having hypertension or a high blood pressure.

A Happy Heart!

You already know how important the heart is to your body plus how important it is to have a healthy and happy heart. Actually, I didn’t believe my friend when he said fasting helps the heart’s health until I made some research. When you fast, you are actually helping your heart become more efficient and promoting your heart’s health. In particular, fasting improves your heart’s functioning by improving heart muscle performance, reducing radical damages to your heart’s vessels and increasing the number of blood vessels in the heart.

In addition, fasting can also be beneficial for persons who have cardio-vascular related issues. It can help reduce your chances of having heart attacks or seizures.

Helping your Metabolism

Fasting helps your overall body metabolism by improving the rate of the activity. In addition, it improves the production of thyroid hormones; especially if you have a sluggish thyroid gland. It also helps to improve your leptin sensitivity.

Heads Up!

As cool as fasting seems health-wise, it may not be advisable for some persons to engage in the exercise. Here’re who and why…

Persons who get dehydrated quickly should avoid fasting unless they are sure they are well hydrated before commencing the activity. Pregnant and nursing mothers too may abstain from the exercise unless they are advised otherwise by a competent health practitioner. Fasting can also cause heartburns because when you fast, your stomach secretes more acids; especially when you perceive the aroma of food. Dehydration and hunger associated with fasting too can lead to headaches.

Final Words…

I had a rewarding conversation with my friend that afternoon and I learned a lot too. Apparently, fasting does a whole lot more than aiding our supplications to the Supreme Being. But like everything else, moderation is most important plus you need to be really disciplined to keep off food especially if you are a foodie just as I am. My friend was disciplined enough to resist and stay off my sandwich throughout our conversation. I’m not sure I can do that, so I may just have to stay home any day I fast. Anyway, I drew up a personal fasting schedule. You could do same too. Let’s get to enjoy these many health benefits that come with resisting food. Bye for now.