“Humans live on one-quarter of what they eat on the other three-quarters live their doctor.”

Egyptian inscription, 3800 BC

In nature, fasting is a reset mechanism for dietary excesses. Numerous studies have shown the salubrious effect of fasting on our health. It helps the body to regain health and vigor. Top 6 benefits of fasting include :

1.Fasting helps in detoxification

Detoxification is the most impressive benefit of fasting.  Our brain takes fasting as a challenge and reacts by activating adaptive stress responses that help it to cope with diseases. When we go without food for a long period of time, our brain immediately starts contemplating about the future course of action. In order to support metabolism, it first starts mobilizing stored glucose in the liver called glycogen as a source of energy. But glycogen will not last beyond 12 to 24 hours.  

After depletion of glycogen, the body starts breaking down fats, a richer source of energy. (1 g of carb has 4 calories but 1g of fat has 9 calories).  The byproduct of the breakdown of fatty acids is known as ketones.  This switch from carbohydrate to fats as a basic currency of energy unleashes fundamental changes in the chemistry of metabolism, use of nutrients and excretion of waste providing an opportunity to the body to regain its balance. In the absence of digestion process, the body utilizes its energy in housekeeping functions of cleaning of the waste and repair of the cells and tissues.

Linda Page, ND, Ph.D., a naturopathic doctor, lecturer, and author of the book Detoxification, describes fasting as “a way you can jump-start your body for a more active life, a healthier life.”

2. Lose weight with fasting

Isn’t this obvious? But, shunning food altogether is an act of deprivation. Easily extreme diets could turn into food obsessions, disordered eating, and dangerous behavior. The solution lies in intermittent fasting, the ultimate weight loss hack. In this fast, the eating allowance will be for 4-8 hours in a day and the person will fast during the remaining hours. While fasting you can eat and drink low calorie or calorie-free foods like steamed green vegetables and herbal teas.

When you fast, your body will recruit fat for energy after consuming glycogen, the longer chain version of glucose for energy. Burning calories this way, instead of from the food you’re eating throughout the day, will help you not only lose weight but weight from any excess body fat you’re carrying. This means that you won’t just be thinner but will also look better and be much healthier than if you lose weight the old-fashioned way.

3. Fasting helps reverse aging

Nutrition deprivation is the key activator of autophagy, a process of identifying and breaking down old cellular material within the cell. Autophagy leads to the rejuvenation of mitochondria, the cellular power plant of the body. It is the accumulation of these cellular junk that is responsible for aging. The process of autophagy ensures that the cellular build up does not impede the normal cellular functions.

Fasting not only expedites the process of cellular cleansing but also stimulates growth hormone, which is responsible for the increased calcium retention, strengthening of bones, increased muscle mass and better protein synthesis and growth.

4. Reverse lifestyle diseases with fasting

Fasting could help prevent lifestyle diseases including cancer and there are ample research studies to corroborate the fact. Weight loss and energy restriction may reduce breast cancer risk. A recent study has found that a fasting diet has the ability to regenerate the pancreas and could potentially reverse diabetes. According to many research studies conducted by neuroscientist Mark Mattson of John Hopkins, cutting energy intake by fasting helps our brain to ward off neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s while at the same time improve memory and mood. The detoxification process during fasting further helps the body to get rid of any kind of accumulated toxins in the various organs like the colon, liver, kidney, lungs, and skin and thereby helps in rejuvenation and healing of the vital organs.

5.Fasting is good for your heart

Patients with diabetes have an increased risk of developing heart disease. The other hard to ignore risk factors in developing a heart disease are high blood pressure, obesity and abnormal lipid profile. In patients of pre-diabetes (high level of glucose in the blood), it was found that after fasting for 10-12 hours the body started using LDL cholesterol as fuel to sustain itself. High level of LDL cholesterol is a major contributor to insulin resistance and it can lead to diabetes. Since fasting using fat cells for energy it frustrates the risk factor for heart disease.

In addition to correcting abnormal lipid profile, fasting helps reduce blood pressure, which reduces the risk of heart disease.

6. Build immunity with fasting

During prolonged fasting, the body uses glucose, fat, and ketones for energy, but it also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells. A fast as long as 3 days is an opportunity for the body to reboot the immune system. A study reported in Cell Stem Cell shows that fasting for three days rejuvenates the stem cells.   The lead author of the study, Dr. Valter Longo says that A three-day-long fast gives the OK for stem cells to go ahead and create brand new white blood cells. This essentially regenerates the entire immune system. 72-hour-long fast in chemotherapy patients significantly reduced the toxic effects of the session.