Fasting is abstinence from all or some food or drinks over a period of time. Although it has recently become popular, fasting has been a practice known for centuries and plays an important role in many cultures and religions. Fasting is a practice that is linked to a wide range of possible health benefits for the whole body. Intermittent fasting is considered one of the healthiest types of fasting.
Types of fasting
There are different types of fasting and depend on the reasons why fasting occurs. Fasting usually lasts from 12 to 24 hours, but some types of fast last for days at a time. The results achieved by fasting also differ from each other and depend on the personality of the people who fast.
Depending on the reason for fasting there are various types of fasting that include:
- Water fasting
- Juice fasting
- Fasting for a blood analysis
- Fasting to reduce weight
- Intermittent fasting
- Fasting for cleansing the body
- Fasting for healing the body
- Religious fasting
Benefits of fasting
Research shows that fasting is becoming more increasingly recognized for health reasons such as weight loss management and prevention or treatment of the existing disease, not reserved solely for religious reasons.
There are multiple benefits of fasting, and these include:
- Improves health by improving blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels
- Promotes longevity and delays ageing
- Increases metabolism and helps lose weight
- Improves brain function and prevents neurodegenerative diseases
- Can reduce inflammation in the body and thus help with arthritis, heart diseases, and cancer
A modern life that includes TV, internet, and other entertainment available 24/7 contributes to a sedentary lifestyle, which includes staying up longer, snacking all day and most of the night, and fast food to prepare or take away. Extra calorie intake and lack of physical activity means a higher risk of obesity and related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, depression, and anxiety. A weak immune system means being susceptible to viruses and bacteria in the environment as well as susceptibility to infections and diseases.
A strong immune system can be maintained with healthy food. Ensuring a balanced and sufficient daily supply of nutrients, daily physical activities, and daily stress management practices. It can also be supported by a regular intake of healthy natural supplements when needed.
How Intermittent fasting Works?
Fasting is one of the ways to maintain a healthy body, improve and strengthen the immune system, increase energy levels and rejuvenate the body. Intermittent fasting is considered one of the healthiest types of fasting. Intermittent fasting involves entirely or partially abstinence from food for a set amount of time before returning to normal eating. Experts agree that fasting for 16 hours a day triggers the process of autophagy – a mechanism in the cell that occurs during fasting and starvation, which allows the body to survive by creating energy through recycling of the dysfunctional, damaged, and diseased cells, removing residues at the cellular level which affect the whole body and lead to optimal health. This cleansing and recycling at the same time is like resetting our body and promoting survival and adaption in response to various stresses and toxins accumulated in our cells. Many good things happen during intermittent fasting, which protects our organs from disease and inflammation.
Though beneficial, intermittent fasting, as well as any other type of fasting, may not give the same results, or may not be suitable for everyone. For people with any underlying health condition, being overweight or type 2 diabetes, fasting without medical supervision can be dangerous. It is best to talk to your doctor first. If you decide to fast, make sure you stay well-hydrated and ensure an adequate intake of well-balanced nutrients during the eating period, which will increase your health benefits. The Mediterranean diet is a very good option even if you do not fast because it is healthy for the heart and prolongs life.
Intermittent Fasting – 16:8 Method Guide
- Begin by picking an 8-hour window where you will consume the food. For example, it can be 7am to 3pm if you like having breakfast; 12pm to 8pm if you want to break the fast with lunch; or 2pm to 10pm if you don’t go to bed early.
- If you find it difficult to fast for 16 hours, try gradually increasing your fasting time. Start with 12 hours of fasting time and then every day add one more hour.
- To control your hunger while fasting you can drink calorie-free beverages like lemon water or unsweetened coffee and tea.
- Don’t forget to follow a balanced diet based on whole foods.
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➥ DISCLAIMER: This post is not intended to replace medical treatment. The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.