6 Benefits of Fasting

Some people think of fasting only as a way to jump start their weight loss goals.  Although this might be true for some, I believe there are benefits of fasting that go way beyond simple weight loss.

In this article we are going to explore 6 ways that fasting can promote healthy aging.  After all our goal should be to live better longer, not just live longer and fasting can help.  

Let’s jump in.

Benefits of Fasting

1. Improves your Immune system

    Fasting helps kick off the cellular repair process called fasting-induced autophagy. This is where your body gets rid of old and damaged parts,  ridding itself of waste. This improves how well your organs function, giving your immune system a chance to rebuild and become stronger. One study showed that during a three-day water fast, old damaged immune cells died off. When you start eating again, your body starts the process of producing new immune cells.  Fasting is kind of a reboot for your immune system. It recharges it. They even found that when cancer patients fasted 24 hours prior to chemotherapy treatment, the treatment worked better; water fasting weakened the cancer cells. 

    2. Lowers your risk for Type 2 diabetes

    Fasting can improve insulin resistance. When you eat every two to three hours, you create a constant demand for more and more insulin. Fasting gives this process a break, helping to improve insulin resistance and, therefore, lowering your risk of Type 2 diabetes. 

    3. Benefits the heart

    Fasting can help lower cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar control.  This has been proven to positively impact obesity, hypertension, and diabetes – all risk factors for heart disease. 

    4. Improves gut health

    Fasting allows the digestive system time to rest and go into repair mode. This means the body is given a chance to resolve any digestive issues you may be experiencing. 

    • Fasting can help reset the body’s natural balance of good and bad bacteria.  
    • It improves gut motility. 
    • It increases nutrient absorption.
    • It reduces gut inflammation. 

    5. Protects the brain

    • Fasting improves cognitive function.
    • It decreases inflammation.
    • It increases protection from neurodegenerative diseases. 
    • It can help the brain by converting glutamate, a nervous system neurotransmitter, to GABA, which helps the brain focus and promotes relaxation. It may also help through autophagy, that stage where the body is clearing out damaged cells and recycling their nutrients for use in healthy cells. This autophagy process has been linked with improved memory and learning by promoting cell repair and helping your brain form new cells and connections. 
    • Many people who fast report improved mood and increased clarity of thought. Many people say they are happier when they fast on a regular basis. 

    6. Helps with weight loss

    The World Cancer Research Fund International has listed obesity as a risk factor for cancer because there is strong evidence that greater body fatness causes many cancers.  

    Let me say that again. 

    Greater body fatness causes many cancers. The evidence for this has only strengthened over the last decade.   

    So keeping a trim physique is more than how we look in our clothes, it’s also about our overall health. Fasting, including intermittent fasting, can help. The idea behind fasting for weight loss is that by restricting food, our bodies will more quickly and efficiently tap our fat resources for energy. While glucose from carbohydrates is our most direct fuel source, we burn fat for energy when glucose isn’t available. This happens even more during times of food deprivation

    Is Fasting For Everyone?

    For most people, fasting is perfectly safe. But there are some people who should not fast unless directed by their doctor.

    • People under the age of 18
    • People with high blood pressure
    • People with kidney disorders
    • People with Type 1 diabetes
    • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
    • People who are underweight
    • Anyone with a history of eating disorders.
    • People on medication. If you are on any prescription drugs, talk to your doctor to make sure fasting is right for you. 

    Are There Any Side Effects?

    Maybe.  During a fast, your body will start to break down fat for energy. Fat is the place your body stores toxins. So, when your body starts to break down the toxic fat, it dumps it into your bloodstream and those toxins start to circulate around as the body prepares for them to leave.  When this happens, you might feel bad. This is normal. Some people call these detox symptoms. These are usually temporary and go away as your body adjusts.   You might have to just power through it, but always listen to your body and adjust your eating if need be.  

    Here is a list of potential detox symptoms:

    • Headaches
    • Brain fog
    • Muscle aches
    • Fatigue
    • Dehydration
    • Hunger & cravings
    • Irritability
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Flu-like symptoms: aches and pains
    • Nausea
    • Diarrhea
    • Fever
    • Low energy

    Conclusion

    Big improvements can be made in your overall health by incorporating fasting into your life,  especially when it is combined with the following lifestyle habits: eating a whole-food, plant-based diet, exercising daily, managing stress, optimizing Vitamin D levels, drinking clean water, getting adequate sleep, and having strong meaningful relationships with family, friends, and God. 

    Every day I am helping clients overcome chronic health issues by helping them choose food that works best with their unique physiology and by helping them understand the impact of lifestyle habits on their overall health.   Our work together helps them get their energy and life back.  Want to learn if nutrition and lifestyle counseling can help you resolve chronic nagging issues?   Schedule a free 30 minute, no obligation discovery call and take action today to feel better. 

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    Picture of Yetta Blair, CFNC, CHCC

    Yetta Blair, CFNC, CHCC

    Yetta is a certified functional nutrition practitioner, holistic cancer coach and speaker. She studied whole-food, plant-based nutrition with T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. She is a food driven analyst and works with clients to help them use nutrition principles to solve the root causes of their health symptoms. She knows that functional nutrition is the answer to our current healthcare crisis, both for individuals and for society at large, and wants to inform as many people as she can of the power of food to heal. Her promise to clients - if you eat better, you will feel better.