Coming from Indian families, we are all aware that each day of the week is assigned to some of the other religious deity. Monday is for Lord Shiva, Tuesday for Lord Ganesh and Hindu Goddesses, Wednesday is for Lord Vitha/Krishna, so on and so forth. We know at least one person from our social circle who fasts due to their faith in their deity. We’d like to tell you that having religious faith in a deity is not the only reason why people fast. Some fast just to stay healthy and keep unhealthy food at bay for a day. Fasting offers multiple health benefits that not many are aware of.
We must understand that fasting is not complete avoidance of food, instead, it requires some knowledge and planning on our part for maintaining a healthy body. Fasting at least once a week helps to cleanse the body, improves our metabolic rate as well as serves as the mantra to live longer.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of fasting.
1. Helps In Weight Loss
Many studies have shown that fasting can be a safe way to lose weight. We gain weight because we consume more amount of calories than what is actually required by our body on a daily basis. Fasting once in a week creates a calorie deficit and allows the body to burn the body fat as its source of energy.
2. Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Fasting has shown to have a positive effect on the insulin sensitivity, which is the body’s ability to tolerate carbohydrates in a better way. Insulin is a fat-storage hormone secreted from the pancreas. Studies have shown that after fasting, insulin becomes effective in guiding cells to absorb glucose from the blood. It has shown to raise the level of certain proteins in our body which helps to improve our insulin sensitivity.
3. Boosts The Immune System
Fasting does a number of things to our immune system, it triggers the regeneration of old cells within the body. Studies have shown that a three-day fast can lead to the renewal of the entire immune system and the growth of new white blood cells. Breaking fast with fruits can provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin A and B which are great antioxidants. In other words, eating less heightens the tendency of our body to fight infections in a pro active manner.
4. Promotes Better Health By Fighting Inflammation
Research has shown that inflammation may be involved in the development of chronic inflammation which can have abysmal consequences like heart disease, diabetes, cancer. It is caused by the release of cells in our bodies called monocytes that are produced through bad eating habits. Holding a fast can help in reducing levels of pro-inflammatory cells in our blood circulation without disrupting the immune system.
5. Prevents Acne And Clears The Skin
Fasting for a day helps the body clean up the toxins and regulate the functioning of the other organs of the body. Fasting gives the body a temporary break from digestion, it is able to focus its regenerative energy on other systems and in improving the functioning of other organs. Fasting not only makes you feel rejuvenated, but it also improves how you look.
6. Boosts Metabolism
When you hold a fast it also boosts your metabolism. If you have poor digestion, this can affect your ability to metabolize food and burn fat. Fasting gives your metabolism a rest and this can energize your metabolism to burn calories more effectively. A study has shown that fasting may lead to increased levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine in your bloodstream, which also contributes to increased metabolism.
How to begin:
There are many different ways of fasting. Find a method that fits your lifestyle.
The most common types of fasting:
- Water Fasting – involves drinking only water for that particular period of time.
- Partial Fasting – certain kinds of foods and drinks are removed from the diet for a certain period.
- Calorie Restriction – consuming a certain amount of calories that are essential for your body in a restricted manner.
- ‘Eat Stop Eat’ Pattern – Complete fast for a period of 24 hours once or twice a week.
Safety and Side Effects
1. Stay Hydrated
It’s easy to get dehydrated during fasting, as you get around 20-30% of the fluid your body needs from food. Dehydration can result in fatigue, thirst, and headache. So it is vital to drink enough fluid on a fast.
2. Discontinue if You Feel Unwell
You must keep yourself safe especially if you are new to fasting. Limit your fast period to 24 hours or fewer. You must keep a snack on hand in case you start to feel faint or ill. You may feel tired but one must not feel unwell if you do become ill stop fasting straight away.
Fasting, nevertheless, is undoubtedly an addition to following a proper health regimen. It rejuvenates the entire system of the body. However, proper planning is a pre-requisite and it should be done as per what suits the body.