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Fasting can be described as the willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. Although sometimes viewed as unhealthy, depriving, or reserved for religious reasons, short-term fasting can offer excellent health benefits. As research grows in this area of health, fasting is becoming more widely accepted as an approved means of managing weight and preventing disease. At the same time, it is important that fasting is done in proper and healthy ways.

For many people fasting is primarily about losing weight. However, it is more than just weight loss. Skipping meals for a fixed period of time does not necessarily mean neglecting food or liquids entirely which may be harmful to your health. One popular way of fasting is Intermittent fasting which benefits you the most when you select eating schedules that work for your body clock and consistently stick to them for days, months, years or whatever time frame suits you best. Intermittent fasting does not restrict what you can eat, only when you can eat. This article aims to look at fasting in general as opposed to one particular method. In general, fasting brings more good than harm with amazing results and benefits when done properly.

Why fast?

A large body of evidence now supports the benefits of fasting, though the most noticeable data has been recorded in studies with animals. Nevertheless, these findings are promising for humans. Essentially, fasting cleanses our body of toxins and forces our cells into processes that are not usually stimulated when a steady stream of fuel from food is always present.

When we fast, the body does not have its usual access to glucose, forcing the cells to resort to other means and materials to produce energy. As a result, the body begins a natural process of producing its own sugar. The liver helps by converting non-carbohydrate materials like lactate, amino acids, and fats into glucose energy. Because our bodies conserve energy during fasting, our basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy our bodies burn while resting) becomes more efficient. As a result, our heart rate and blood pressure are lowered. Ketosis, which is another process that occurs later into the fast cycle, happens when the body burns stored fat as its primary power source instead of glucose.This is the ideal mode for weight loss and balancing blood sugar levels. Fasting puts the body under mild stress, which makes our cells adapt by enhancing their ability to cope. In other words, they become strong. This process is similar to what happens when we stress our muscles and cardiovascular system during exercise. As with exercise, our body can only grow stronger during these processes when there is adequate time to rest and recover. This is why short-term fasting is recommended.

Assist weight loss

Some studies support fasting as a good way for weight loss. One 2015 study found that alternate day fasting trimmed body weight by up to 7 percent, while whole day fasting reduced body weight by up to 9 percent. Another study from the University of Southern California, discovered that when 71 adults were placed on a five-day fast (eating between 750 and 1,100 calories a day) once every three months, they lost an average of six pounds, reduced inflammation levels and their waistlines, and lost total body fat without sacrificing muscle mass. Intermittent fasting is said to be able to help you lose weight by about seven to eleven pounds over a period of about ten weeks. Around 27 studies backed up the claim that this fasting type is helpful for obese individuals in managing their weight. Research also suggest that intermittent fasting can help people lose weight by 13 percent

Fights Inflammation

Acute inflammation is a normal immune process used to help fight off infections,but chronic inflammation can have serious consequences for your health. Research clearly 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 review of 18 participants found that intermittent fasting could significantly reduce levels of C-reactive protein, which is a marker of inflammation. Another 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. In addition, an animal study found that following a very low calorie diet to mimic the effects of fasting reduced levels of inflammation and was beneficial in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, a chronic inflammatory condition.

growth hormone secretion,

Human growth hormone (HGH) is a type of protein hormone that is central to many aspects of our health. In fact, research shows that this key hormone is involved in metabolism, weight loss, and muscle growth. Several studies have found that fasting could naturally increase human growth hormone levels. One study in 11 healthy adults showed that fasting for 24 hours significantly increased levels of the growth hormone. Another small, older study in nine males found that fasting for just 2 days led to a fivefold increase in the Human growth hormone production rate. In addition, fasting may help maintain steady blood sugar and insulin levels throughout the day, which may further improve levels of Human growth hormone, as some research has found that insulin can influence the secretion of this growth hormone. These studies indicate that fasting can increase levels of human growth hormone which plays a role in growth, metabolism, weight loss, and muscle strength.

Improve heart health

Heart disease is considered the leading cause of death around the world, accounting for an estimated 31.5% of deaths globally. One of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of heart disease is switching up your diet and lifestyle. Some research shows that incorporating fasting into your routine may be especially beneficial when it comes to heart health.

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

In addition, another older study in 4,629 people associated fasting with a lower risk of coronary artery disease, as well as a significantly lower risk of diabetes, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Fasting has been associated with a wide array of potential health benefits, including weight loss, improved blood sugar control, heart health, brain function, cancer prevention, increasing growth hormone secretion and muscle strength. From water fasting to intermittent fasting and calorie restriction, there are many different types of fasting that will fit nearly every lifestyle. When coupled with a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle, fasting wisely can be a big benefit to one’s health. However, despite the long list of possible health benefits associated with fasting, it may not be right for everyone. For example, if you have diabetes, fasting can lead to spikes and crashes in your blood sugar levels, which could be dangerous. It is always best to talk to a doctor first if you have any underlying health conditions or are planning to fast for more than 24 hours. In addition, fasting is not generally recommended without medical supervision for older adults, adolescents, or people who are underweight.

Spiritual benefits

The spiritual benefits of fasting are found throughout the Bible. We have the accounts of powerful breakthroughs happening during or after times of fasting. Moses fasted for 40 days before receiving the commandments Deuteronomy 9; David fasted mourning his child’s Illness 2 Samuel 12:1-23; Elijah fasted while escaping Jezebel 1 Kings 19:4-8; Daniel fasted for an answer to prayer Daniel 10:1-3. Paul fasted after his conversion Acts 9:1-9 and Jesus fasted before the temptations by Satan in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-2. These are just some of the occasions where people in the bible felt the need to connect to God on a deeper and stronger spiritual level while depriving their bodies of physical food and water. Spiritual fasting has benefits that can improve and advance our spiritual lives. Here are a few:

Spiritual Fasting Helps us to Rely fully on God

Spiritual Fasting Opens our Heart to Hearing God’s Voice

Spiritual Fasting Renews our Appreciation for God and His Blessings

Spiritual Fasting Gives Power to our Prayers

Spiritual Fasting Creates an Environment for Miracles

Spiritual Fasting helps us to Ingest and Heed God’s Word

Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God? (Joel 2:12-14)

If you decide to try fasting, be sure to stay well-hydrated and if you intend fasting for longer periods, try to minimize intense physical activity and get plenty of rest.

(by Lenworth Frankson)

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