Is Fasting Good for Your Body?
Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, explains that while fasting can have numerous health benefits for the body, it may only be appropriate for some.
What Is Fasting?
Fasting has been around for centuries and is a tradition in many cultures and religions. It involves abstaining from food or certain foods for a certain period. It can range from short-term, intermittent fasts lasting a few hours to longer, multi-day fasts.
“Fasting is done in different ways, such as intermittent fasting, alternate-day fasting, time-restricted eating, water fasting, juice fasting, dry fasting, and religious fasting says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.
“It is, however, important to note that while fasting can have numerous health benefits, it is not appropriate for everyone and should be discussed with a doctor before starting.”
What Are the Health Benefits of Fasting?
Recent scientific studies have shown that fasting can have numerous health benefits for the body.
One of the most well-known benefits of fasting is weight loss. When the body is in a fasted state, it begins to burn stored fat for energy instead of glucose from food. This can lead to a reduction in body fat and weight loss.
Fasting has also been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation contributes to many chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Fasting can reduce inflammation by stimulating the production of anti-inflammatory molecules in the body.
Fasting has also improved brain function, including memory and cognitive performance. This is thought to be due to the production of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) protein, which helps promote brain cells’ growth and survival.
Finally, fasting has been shown to increase longevity. Studies have found that calorie restriction, a form of fasting, can increase the lifespan of animals. The same may be true for humans, and more research is needed to understand the mechanisms behind this effect.
Different Types of Fasting
There are several different types of fasting, each with its unique guidelines and benefits.
Intermittent Fasting: This type of fasting involves eating during a specific window and fasting outside that window. One popular strategy is the 16/8 approach, in which you fast for 16 hours and eat within an eight-hour window. The 5:2 diet is another common strategy: eating for five days and restricting calories to 500-600 for two non-consecutive days. Weight loss, insulin sensitivity, and longevity have all been proven to benefit from intermittent fasting.
Alternate-day Fasting: This type of fasting entails alternating between regular eating days and calorie-restricted days. You could regularly eat one day and then consume only 500-600 calories the following. Fasting on alternate days has been found to aid weight loss and enhance insulin sensitivity.
Time-restricted Eating: This type of fasting involves restricting the hours of the day you eat. For example, you may only eat between 12 PM and 8 PM and fast for the remaining 16 hours. Time-restricted eating has been demonstrated to aid in weight loss, insulin sensitivity, and longevity.
Water Fasting: This type of fasting involves consuming only water for a specific period. This can last anywhere from 24 hours to several days. Water fasting has been demonstrated to provide various health benefits, including weight loss, increased insulin sensitivity, and decreased inflammation.
Juice Fasting: This fasting involves consuming only juice for a specific period. This can last anywhere from 24 hours to several days. Juice fasting can help detox the body, improve digestion, and boost the immune system.
Religious Fasting: Many religions have fasting as a traditional practice, such as Ramadan in Islam, Lent in Christianity, and Yom Kippur in Judaism. The fasting periods and rules may vary, but it is often a period of spiritual reflection and self-discipline.
In Conclusion, while research suggests fasting is good for your health, it’s important to remember that it may not be the right choice for everyone.
“Before fasting, anyone with specific medical disorders, such as diabetes, insomnia, digestive issues, a weakened immune system, or cancer, should see their doctor. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid fasting, as it can harm the developing foetus or baby,” says Hewlett.
“Individuals with a history of eating disorders or disordered eating patterns should also avoid fasting, as it can trigger unhealthy behaviours. Additionally, fasting can be difficult for people who have difficulty sticking to strict guidelines or have difficulty feeling full on just water and juice. If you have doubts or concerns about whether fasting is right for you, it is best to speak with a healthcare professional beginning your fast.”
About Affinity Health
Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to always give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.