Increase in your metabolism and enhancement in your immune system are two of the benefits of fasting for a day.
Fasting, even for a day, can boost your health in several ways. Read to find out how!
Around the world, many religions and cultures undergo fasting as a way of reinforcing their faith. Muslims fast from dawn to dusk for a month-long period called Ramadan. People of the Jewish faith fast for 25 hours during Yom Kippur – the holiest day of their faith. The town of Geneva in Switzerland holds a public holiday called “Jeune genevois or “Fast of Geneva”, which originated in the Middle-Ages as a way of repentance against wars and plagues.
Although many people fast due to their religious and cultural beliefs, there are a number of health benefits to fasting for a day. They can help prevent diseases, rejuvenate your body and even help center your mind. This article highlights some benefits of fasting, and how you improve your health through it.
Benefits of Fasting
Fasting Improves Longevity
Aging can cause you to have a slower metabolism process. However, fasting causes you to eat less, which means there is less load on your digestive system. This can help keep your digestive system fresh and make you have a faster metabolism even much later in life.
Fasting Speeds Metabolic Processes
Day-long fasts can also help to rest your digestive system. Having received this break, your digestive system is re energized to metabolize food and burn fat more effectively. This can help you to maintain your digestion rate and improve your bowel movements, making you healthier.
Fasting Increases Hunger
Studies have shown that people with obesity do not produce hormones related to hunger effectively. This means that they do not receive correct signals when they are full due to their diet. Fasting can work as a reset button. Long periods of fasting can restart your body, and allow it to produce hormones that induce hunger.
Fasting Rejuvenates Brain Function
BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) is a protein produced in the hippocampus, which stimulates brain cells to transform into neurons. This protein also triggers other chemicals in the brain and protects against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Studies have shown that fasting can boost the production of BDNF, and improve the health of your brain.
Fasting Strengthens Immune System
Fasting can help reduce free radical damage, starves formation of cancer cell and prevents inflammatory conditions. As a result, day-long fasts can leave you with a stronger immune system.
Fasting has also shown to be beneficial for heart health. A study carried out at the University of Illinois at Chicago showed that alternate days of fasting can help reduce “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides by significant levels. Studies have also shown that fasting can help reduce the risk of coronary disease and diabetes.
Fasting Clears Skin
Not eating anything even for one day can help your body get rid of toxins present inside and outside your body. Fasting also regulates inflammatory conditions, which lowers the chances of skin diseases like acne and eczema.
Fasting Improves Insulin and Leptin Sensitivity
Insulin is a hormone produced in the body that helps to store nutrients from the bloodstream. Leptin is another hormone that is more concerned with helping your body feel full.
Fasting can help regulate your insulin and leptin levels and make them more sensitive. Fasting even for a day can cause insulin to be more effective in making cells collect glucose from the blood, whereas leptin helps your body to recognize hunger signals more effectively.
Fasting Secretes Growth Hormones
A study carried out at the University of Cambridge in the UK tested 11 adults who fasted for 24 hours. Results reported that these individuals showed higher levels of HGH or human growth hormone. HGH is a protein hormone that is essential for our body’s growth, metabolism, and muscular strength.
Fasting Helps in Weight Loss
Several studies have shown that fasting can help in losing weight. Controlled fasting can be a great way to lose fat, as this causes your body to burn fat cells more effectively than regular dieting. However, this may require to be a bit more consistent. A recent study showed that people with obesity who intermittently fasted for 12 months showed better results in weight loss than dieting.
You may wish to check the Ayurveda weight loss plan.
How to Do a One-Day Fast
Choose a Date
If you’re planning to do fast for a day due to health concerns, you have the choice of the day of fasting at your discretion. If you’re starting out new, remember to choose a day that is easy and less stressful for you. But at the same time, remember to keep busy so that your mind does not get diverted to food. Light activities such as reading, working on your computer or a stroll in the woods can be great. However, keep in mind to avoid heavy activities such as running or lifting heavy weights.
Drink Plenty of Water
You’re fasting, and you need to avoid food. But unless your religion forbids it, this does not mean you need to avoid water as well. Drinking enough water is important for your health and thus, you need to make sure you consume a sufficient amount of water regularly. Some people even take it one step further. Getting some tea, black coffee or zero-calorie drinks can also be considered okay if you want to cut yourself some slack.
Coconut water is also a good option if you have it available where you live.
For beginners in fasting, the sudden lack of food can be overwhelming. You might feel nausea, dizziness, or suffer from fatigue. There are also chances for your blood pressure to drop slightly. Try not to panic. These are normal during one-day fasts. If you begin fasting regularly, eventually these conditions will fade away and your body will adjust.
Breaking the Fast
Much like how you planned how to start the fast, you also need to break your fast with equal planning. If you eat too much at once, it might be harsh on your stomach due to long periods of inactivity. Helping yourself with smaller meals can give your stomach time to adjust, and prepare it for larger meals later. Smoothies or juices can be a good choice for breaking your fast as well.
Although it might not seem like it, fasting is not a form of deprivation. Staying away from food for 24 hours is not only a test of abstinence but also a gift to our future selves. Fasting is a conscious choice made by you to heal and repair your body. It gives your body a way to return to its natural system. This is a gift from your past to your future and should be treated as one.
Try it and let me know how it goes. Do not be harsh on yourself, if you find it difficult the first time, do not persist. Try again at a later date. When you get used to it, your system starts demanding you to fast and becomes much easier for you to fast. I´m saying this from personal experience.
PS: Consult your family practitioner before fasting if you suffer from any disease.