Fasting has become increasingly popular over the years, especially among the health community. While some health practitioners are afraid to recommend eating less due to the stigma involved, it still doesn’t alleviate the incredible benefits of fasting when used sensibly.
Here are some benefits of fasting:
Helps detoxification process
Any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body. After a few days of fasting, higher levels of endorphins which are feel-good hormones are produced in the blood, which can have a positive impact on mental well-being.
Prolonged fasting may also be effective for regenerating immune cells. When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged.
Fasting helps you sleep better
A better night’s sleep is enhanced. If you’ve ever felt like you slipped into a food coma after a big meal, you know that diet can have an impact on wakefulness and sleepiness. Some intermittent fasting followers report being able to sleep better as a result of this way of eating.
One theory is that intermittent fasting regulates circadian rhythm, which determines sleep patterns. A regulated circadian rhythm means you will fall asleep easily and wake up feeling refreshed. The other theory centers on the fact that having your last meal earlier in the evening means you will have digested the food by the time you hit the pillow.
Digestion is best done when you are upright, going to sleep with a full stomach can lead to bedtime acid reflux or heartburn, which can make it hard to fall asleep.
Better outcomes for stroke survivors
Fasting leads to better outcomes for stroke survivors. Healthier cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure play a major role in helping reduce your risk of stroke but that’s not the only possible stroke-related benefit of fasting.
Safety and side effects
Despite the long list of possible health benefits associated with fasting, it may not be right for everyone. Side effects of fasting include dizziness, headaches, low blood sugar, muscle aches, weakness, and fatigue. It is best to talk to your doctor first if you have any underlying health conditions or are planning to fast for more than 24 hours. Fasting is not generally recommended without medical supervision for older adults, adolescents or people who are underweight.
If you decide to try fasting, be sure to stay well-hydrated and fill your diet with nutrient-dense foods during your eating periods to maximize the potential health benefits. If you are fasting for longer periods, try to minimize intense physical activity and get plenty of rest.
The fact that intermittent fasting shows evidence of improving insulin sensitivity may be an attractive option for people with a BMI over 25, borderline diabetes or with type 2 diabetes, but not on blood sugar-lowering medications. If you are thinking of trying a fast and you have diabetes, you need to check with your doctor first.