Health Benefits Of Fasting For Human Body


With the recent surge in popularity, people are now discovering that fasting is a practice that dates back centuries. It plays a central role in many cultures and religions. It can be defined as moderation from all or some foods or drinks for a set period; there are many different ways of fasting.

In general, most fasts are observed over 24–72 hours. Though during intermittent fasting, one has to observe fast in cycles of eating and fasting, ranging from a few hours to a few days (sometimes). Even science proves that fasting has many health benefits [1]. You can have it all, from increased weight loss [2] to better brain function.

Promotes Blood Sugar Control by impacting Insulin Resistance

Several studies [3] claim that different types of fasting improve blood sugar control. This is a helpful tactic for those at risk of diabetes. One study in 10 people with type 2 diabetes showed that short-term intermittent fasting significantly decreased blood sugar levels [4].

Limiting calorie intake impacts the reduction of insulin resistance in the human body. Reduced insulin resistance increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin and allows it to transport glucose from the blood to cells more efficiently. Given these potential blood sugar-lowering effects, fasting could help check the blood sugar levels and prevent spikes/crashes.

Promotes Better Health by Fighting Inflammation

Acute inflammation is a normal immune process that helps erode off chronic inflammation or infections. But it can have profound long-term implications on your health.

Studies suggest inflammation can be the root cause of chronic conditions like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and rheumatoid arthritis [5]. Fasting for that reason can decrease the level of inflammation and promote better health [6].

Intermittent fasting or a low-calorie diet reduces the levels of inflammation, which is beneficial for the treatment of multiple sclerosis [7].

Fasting Enhances Heart Health & Improves Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels

Cardiovascular diseases are a concern worldwide, accounting for 31.5% of deaths globally [8]. Switching to a healthy diet and a mindful lifestyle is an effective way to reduce heart health risks. According to researchers [9], incorporate fasting into regular lives for beneficial results related to the heart.

Alternate-day fasting has been found to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and blood triglycerides levels by 25% & 32%, respectively. Long-term fasting goals can also help you achieve significantly decreased blood pressure levels [10]. Fasting is also associated with a lower risk of coronary artery disease and lowered risk of diabetes, a significant threat factor for heart disease.

Fasting Boosts Brain Function and Prevents Neurodegenerative Disorders

Multiple studies have claimed that fasting has a powerful effect on brain health. Intermittent fasting improves brain function and structure and increases the generation of nerve cells to help boost cognitive function [11]. While relieving inflammation, fasting prevents neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s.

Promotes Weight Loss by Limiting Calorie Intake and Boosts Metabolism

Many people may choose to fast to shed a few pounds. Practically, abstaining from certain foods can decrease overall calorie intake, leading to healthy weight loss. Short-term fasting is known to boost metabolism by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which enhances weight loss [12].

Whole-day fasting reduces body weight by up to 9%, and one can notice a significant decrease in body fat over 12–24 weeks [13].

Intermittent fasting over 3-12 weeks effectively induces weight loss as it restricts calorie intake and decreases body weight and fat mass by up to 8%-16%, respectively [14].

Fasting is more effective than calorie restriction at increasing fat loss and preserving muscle tissue.

Helps Cancer Prevention and Increase efficacy of Chemotherapy

Studies indicate that fasting benefits the treatment and prevention of cancer. Alternate-day fasting helps block tumour formation [15].

When exposed to fasting bear, cancer cells are as effective as chemotherapy and delay tumour growth while increasing the effectiveness of ongoing chemotherapy treatments [16].

There are different types of fasts one can observe. The ancient Ayurveda and sattvic lifestyle include fasting as an integral part of living and other practices. It is all up to you how easy you make fasting and fit it into your lifestyle. Here is the list of most common types of fasting people observe:

Water fasting: Drinking only water for a specific period of time.

Juice fasting: Includes only drinking vegetable or fruit juice.

Intermittent fasting: Limiting the intake partially or entirely to a few hours or a few days at a time. One can resume a regular diet on other days.

Partial fasting: It includes cutting on certain foods or drinks, for instance, processed foods, animal products, caffeine, sugars etc.

Calorie restriction: Strictly restrict calories for a few days every week.

With these above-stated categories being the most popular, people break down intermittent fasting into subcategories. For instance, you can observe alternate-day fasting, time-restricted feeding, etc., all of that suit your body type and bear positive and healthy results.

In the end, be mindful of the practices you take up. Make sure you prioritise being healthy over other goals when it comes to fasting. After all, cutting down food to become weaker is of no use! Thus, be very conscious and thoughtful of your goals, and remember, NOT TO OVERDO IT!

References & Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534877/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7021351/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7856758/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5394735/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3492709/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23244540/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4899145/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5408160/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20300080/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17929537/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11220789/
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10837292/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26374764/
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21410865/
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11835290/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3608686/

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