Fasting is an extremely beneficial activity that is promoted by most cultures in the world on one premise or another. It has a range of physical and mental advantages which have been known for centuries but are now backed up by scientific research.
Intermittent fasting which is a type of fasting regimen has taken the world by storm in the past few years; promising everything from weight loss to brain regeneration.
Many doctors and experts believe that when used and executed correctly, fasting may be the preventative medicine that can slow down a range of debilitating diseases and disorders.
The Impact On Insulin
Insulin is a fat storing hormone in the body which activates whenever most types of food are ingested. Excess production of insulin, however, means obesity and subsequent heart disease, diabetes, and scores of other health problems.
Fasting is a natural way to lessen the body’s insulin response, make it easier to reach stored fat and to control the weight overall. In a fasted state the body produces ketones which are a part of the larger fat cells.
While ketones can essentially keep anyone going for days and even weeks, they need to be put in motion by a process called ketosis which is triggered by a regular fasting regimen.
Fasting can help people that suffer from high blood pressure, low blood sugar and prevent these issues from escalating into heart attacks and diabetes.
It is also recommended for people that are suffering from undue weight gain and have been unsuccessful in losing it with diet and exercise. In the case of intermittent fasting, research has shown successful weight loss even in older people with slower metabolisms. It also works for women with polycystic ovary syndrome which causes weight gain and hormone imbalances.
A Boost To Willpower
For time immemorial fasting has been used to clear the mind and induce concentration. Even the great philosopher Socrates was known to keep long fasts in order to effectively contemplate the universe. He was known to meditate and think for long periods of time without eating or drinking and claimed his great ideas stemmed from the increased focus.
Furthermore, since a degree of patience and tolerance is required to fast regularly, a person is better able to deal with people as well as unpleasant daily occurrences. Fasting is also instrumental for increasing bodily endurance which can impact willpower and energy positively.
A study showed that fasting increased production of the HGH hormone in the body which impacts endurance and effective energy utilization.
Fasting is also about self-control and ultimately the realization that you can only really control yourself and the reactions you have to events and people.
For smokers, alcoholics and occasional drug users, fasting has also been known to provide the impetus to quit since it builds up willpower.
The Confident Stride
Fasting does have the mental effect of increasing self-belief and confidence especially when it translates to weight loss, greater energy levels, and better cognitive function. However, it also has a direct effect on neuro-chemicals such as catecholamines which result in lower stress and feelings of elation.
Autophagy is the body killing off old cells and then recycling their material to build stronger cells which can contribute to an improved immune system. Autophagy may sound counter-productive but is one of the best ways for the body to ward off disease.
Research has shown that autophagy can potentially prevent the onset of disorders which are incurable such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Fasting induces autophagy in phases which is part of why cognitive functioning increases and neurons regenerate. Studies are ongoing to study the impacts of autophagy on anti-aging.
An Enemy Of Cancer
Studies have shown that fasting slows down the growth of cancer cells and may also prevent cancer; even in individuals that are genetically prone to it.
Since fasting strengthens the body’s immune system, it can fight cancer growth and acceleration. However, this is when traditional treatments such as chemotherapy are also practiced.
A study done in Texas found that fasting significantly slowed down cancer growth in cases of Leukemia.
A Healthy Gut
Refraining from regular intake of food offers much-needed rest to the gut which in turn optimizes its performance and recovery over time. In many cultures around the world, fasting is encouraged in order to heal the body from within and to teach tolerance.
Fasting is also prescribed for anger management, binge eating disorder as well as emotional eating.
Since fasting promotes anti-inflammatory processes in the body, this applies to the gut as well which in turn produces more healthy bacteria to digest food.
People that fast also suffer less from stomach bugs and issues as well as urinary tract infections. With the gut being the body’s ‘second brain’, fasting can improve immunity as well as energy levels.
Cognitive Functioning On Another Level
Research has shown that fasting over a protracted period of time actually increases brain cell turnover. Firstly, this happens due to neuronal autophagy which is the breaking down and recycling of old brain cells. The new cells that result from this process are stronger and more resilient against disease.
Fasting is also found to be excellent at inducing production of an important protein known as brain-derived neurotropic factor or BDNF. This protein affects neurons in a variety of brain centers namely the hippocampus, basal forebrain, and the cortex.
These centers are associated with numerous vital functions such as memory, concentration, analyzing, ability to learn as well as mood regulation.
If levels of BDNF are low in the brain, there can be an onset of degenerative disorders, memory impairment and difficulty concentrating or staying alert. BDNF low levels are also associated with medium to severe depression which is why fasting is prescribed as part of the treatment for that disorder.
Fasting also plays a neuroprotective role by reducing damage caused by free radicals (which is doubly good for skin and anti-aging). There is research which claims that people that fast at least a few days a week have significantly lower chances of having a stroke.
Changing Your Life
With the improved clarity that fasting can provide, there is infinite potential to self-analyze and come to conclusions about one’s personality.
In today’s world, even food and drink is an addiction and without the clutter, there is a lot of space left over for self-reflection.
Through fasting, you may be able to recognize loopholes and lack of focus in your life which is keeping you from realizing and achieving your goals.
Fasting also leads to the understanding of a simple principle; that in the earlier days of human civilization there was no need to eat frequently. Each meal had to be hunted for and planned which is why one meal a day was considered sufficient.
While our mental processes have changed and taken the form of addiction, our bodies remain the same. That is, that they are unable to process all the excess food which then turns into a harbinger of disease in the body.
A Sound Sleep
Many people that suffer from insomnia and related sleep disorders have to resort to pills in order to get a good night’s sleep. Fasting lowers stress levels which is why it becomes easier to get a sound sleep without additional medication.
With a good sleep pattern, you can expect better brain and body functioning and expect a spike in your productivity levels.