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8 Health Benefits of Fasting

Fasting may provide several health benefits, including weight loss, blood sugar control, and protection against medical conditions like cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.

 

1. Promotes blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance
Several studies have found that fasting may improve blood sugar control, which may be helpful for those at risk of developing diabetes. A 2023 studyTrusted Source of 209 people found intermittent fasting 3 days per week can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity.

Decreasing insulin resistance can increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin, allowing it to transport glucose from your bloodstream to your cells more efficiently. Coupled with the potential blood sugar-lowering effects of fasting, this could help keep your blood sugar steady, preventing spikes and crashes in your blood sugar levels. A 2022 review of researchTrusted Source notes that intermittent fasting and time-restricted feeding may reduce risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome, a group of five risk factors that increase the likelihood of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. However, additional studies are still needed to compare the effects of fasting with restricting calories.

2. Promotes better health by fighting inflammation
While acute inflammation is a natural immune process used to help fight off infections, chronic inflammation can seriously affect your health. Research shows that inflammation may be involved in the development of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Some studies have found that fasting can help decrease levels of inflammation and promote better health. One 2022 review of 18 studies found that intermittent fasting could significantly reduce levels of C-reactive protein, which is a marker of inflammation. A small study discovered that practicing intermittent fasting for 1 year was more effective at decreasing levels of inflammation and reducing certain risk factors for heart disease compared to a control group.

3. May enhance heart health by improving blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels
Heart disease is considered the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for an estimated 19 million Trusted Sourcedeaths globally in 2020. Switching up your diet and lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of heart disease. Some research has found that incorporating fasting into your routine may be especially beneficial for heart health.

One reviewTrusted Source revealed that alternate-day fasting could reduce levels of total cholesterol and several risk factors for heart disease in people with overweight compared to a control group. Another review showed that alternate-day fasting could significantly decrease blood pressure, as well as levels of blood triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

4. May boost brain function and prevent neurodegenerative disorders
Though research is mostly limited to animal research, several studies have found that fasting could have a powerful effect on brain health. Animal studies from 2018 and 2021 have reported that fasting could protect brain health and increase the generation of nerve cells to help enhance cognitive function.

Because fasting may also help relieve inflammation, it could also aid in preventing neurodegenerative disorders. In particular, animal studies suggest that fasting may protect against and improve outcomes for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. However, more studies are needed to evaluate the effects of fasting on brain function in humans.

5. Aids weight loss by limiting calorie intake and boosting metabolism
Many dieters experiment with fasting to try to lose weight. Theoretically, abstaining from all or certain foods and beverages should decrease your overall calorie intake, which could lead to increased weight loss over time. One older review from 2015 showed that whole-day fasting could reduce body weight by up to 9% and significantly decrease body fat over 12–24 weeks.

Another review found that intermittent fasting was more effective in inducing weight loss compared to continuous calorie restriction. In addition, other research has found that fasting may lead to greater reductions in body fat and belly fat compared to continuous calorie restriction.

6. Increases growth hormone secretion, which is vital for growth, metabolism, weight loss, and muscle strength
Human growth hormone (HGH) is a protein hormone central to many aspects of your health. Research shows that this key hormone is involved in metabolism, weight loss, and muscle growth. Several studies have found that fasting could naturally increase HGH levels. One review article noted that fasting for 37.5 hours can increase basal HGH concentrations by as much as ten times and also reduces the metabolic rate at which the body clears HGH.

7. Could extend longevity
Several animal studies have found promising results on the potential lifespan-extending effects of fasting. One 2021 study analyzed the effects of periodic fasting on the human gut and found that fasting increased the diversity of helpful bacteria in the gut microbiome, including the Christensenella species, which are related to longevity. The researchers also noted an increase in sirtuins, proteins involved in metabolic regulation that are also associated with longevity.

A 2021 review of older human and animal research has turned up similar findings, reporting that fasting could be effective in increasing longevity and delaying disease. However, further studies are needed to understand how fasting may impact longevity and aging in humans and which fasting plans are most effective.

8. May aid in cancer prevention and increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy
A review published in the American Cancer Society Journal notes that intermittent fasting may benefit the treatment and prevention of cancer in some situations. It may decrease tumor growth and toxicity from chemotherapy in some people. But they note that more high quality clinical trials are needed and recommend that people undergoing cancer treatment only do intermittent fasting as part of a clinical trial. For some situations and types of cancer, it could potentially have a negative effect.

Another review of test tube and animal suggests that fasting could reduce tumor progression and increase chemotherapy’s effectiveness. Despite these promising findings, additional studies are needed to look at how fasting may influence cancer development and treatment in humans.

 

 

Resources : healthline - 8 Health Benefits of Fasting
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fasting-benefits#safety

Date of Input: 21/03/2024 | Updated: 21/03/2024 | aslamiah

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