Is Fasting Good for Health?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Vikram Chauhan
Medically reviewed by Dr. Vikram Chauhan on September 18, 2020
MD (Ayurveda) CEO & Founder of Planet Ayurveda & Krishna Herbal Company
Updated on September 18th, 2020
Health Benefits of Fasting

Fasting is abstinence, voluntary self-restraint from food. All people know the proverb: “fasting is not an aunt, but a mother.” Why were the ancients so respectful of fasting if, in theory, it brings death? Is there only negative in this phenomenon, or can fasting be beneficial? Let’s figure it out.

What is fasting?

Fasting is abstinence, voluntary self-restraint from food. Fasting can be a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God. Fasting can be a diet that excludes certain groups and types of foods. This is its main difference from the diet, which usually gives the recommended list of foods. 

Fasting, like diet, can be extremely strict, and can – be quite free. However, intending to follow the traditions of fasting, whether soft or hard, it is necessary to consider the needs of your body. Whether he will be able to withstand this test – you do not know, so it is better to consult a nutritionist and try first a short and not too hard fast.

[Also Read: Fasting for Weight Loss]

What are the different Types of Fasting?

Fasting is a dietary pattern that recommends alternating between periods of feeding and fasting. It does not impose a rule about what foods you should eat, but when you should eat them. There are several fasting methods, which divide the day or week into periods of feeding, better known as “food window” and fasting.

Various types of fasting include: – 

1. During dry fasting

The person does not consume food or water and does not come into contact with water, although some people bathe in natural sources. The body is completely resting. Approximately on the third day of fasting, the body switches to endogenous (internal) nutrition and begins to eat its diseased cells. 

2. When fasting on the water

Absolutely all food and drinks are excluded, only water remains. This fasting type is easier than others because water helps to quickly remove accumulated poisons and toxins from the body.

3. Cascade Fasting 

Means alternating dry days with days on the water. This fast is ideal for training and preparing the body for dry fasting. 

4. Periodic Fasting

Periodic Fasting is also known as intermittent fasting [1]. Fasting is something that people have always practiced. In principle, it is about refraining from food, but it all goes a little deeper than that. Periodic fasting is an excellent tool for losing weight.

At the same time, it is practiced by those who want to lower their blood sugar, fight against tumor cells, or get in shape. You can do a lot of good for your body by regulating food intake in one way or another. Periodic fasting is an easy way to get all these benefits.

24-hour Fasting

This is one of the most common forms of periodic fasting. As the name suggests, you abstain from food for a whole day. Then you can eat your meal. If you use intermittent fasting to lose weight, you should choose dishes that contain fewer calories. The goal is to limit your total calorie intake during the day, so avoid binge eating or huge portions.

16/8 periodic fasting

This periodic fast means that you are without food for 16 hours and then eat for eight hours. A person does not need to eat much more often than this. It is a simple yet effective way to fast. You can still train quite a lot and build your muscle mass.

Fasting certain days

the 5: 2 diet- Periodic fasting may include mixing the days when you eat. A popular form of this is the 5: 2 diet, developed by Michael Mosley, where you can eat food for two days but fast or eat much fewer calories for five days. If you choose to eat something these days, it should not exceed 500 calories.

5. Therapeutic fasting

Therapeutic fasting means that you do not eat food for more than 2 days, in principle no intake of carbohydrates is allowed. Some believe that the body’s energy stores are not burned until after 2 days of fasting and therefore advocate therapeutic fasting before periodic fasting.

What are the Health Benefits of Fasting?

When we haven’t eaten for a while, many things happen in our body. Here are some benefits of fasting that occur in the body during practice:

  • Reduction of insulin levels– Blood insulin levels drop significantly as fasting. This condition facilitates fat burning.
  • Increase in human growth hormone-Higher levels of this hormone facilitate fat burning and muscle gain, in addition to numerous other benefits of fasting. During fasting, blood levels of growth hormone can increase up to 5 times, according to studies.
  • Induces cell repair- Fasting triggers in the cells of the body a process of “removing waste” from cells called autophagy. This means that cells break down and metabolize broken and dysfunctional proteins that accumulate within them over time. Increased autophagy can provide protection against a variety of illnesses, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Gene expression-Several genes and molecules related to longevity and protection against disease undergo beneficial changes for the body. Many of the benefits of fasting are related to these changes in hormones, gene expression, and cell function.
  • Help to lose weight and belly fat- A review of the scientific literature carried out in 2014 states that fasting can cause 3-8% weight loss over a period of 3 to 24 weeks, a relevant amount.
  • Reduces insulin resistance, helping to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes- There can be many benefits of fasting for people who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It is capable of bringing benefits to insulin resistance and an impressive reduction in blood sugar levels proven by studies in humans. Fasting reduced blood sugar by 3 to 6% while fasting insulin was reduced by 20 to 31%.
  • Can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body– Many studies show the benefits of fasting by increasing the body’s resistance to oxidative stress, reducing inflammation in the body, and fighting to age and developing numerous diseases.
  • Beneficial for heart health– Fasting can improve a number of risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and inflammatory markers.
  • Extend and help you live longer– One of the most encouraging fasting benefits is that it can enhance the ability to prolong life. Studies have shown that it is possible to prolong life expectancy in a similar way to continuous caloric restriction. In some cases, the effects were quite dramatic – for example, guinea pigs who fasted on alternate days lived 83% longer than those who were not fasting. Further studies in humans are needed to prove it.

[Also Read: Why Reverse Fasting is Considered the Best]

Can fasting cause side effects?

If you indulge in one of the more challenging fasting varieties, where you take a longer break from eating, you can feel it in different ways in your body. Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Headache – remember to drink plenty of water, and sometimes a little extra salt can be good.
  • Constipation – because you eat less, you will not have to go to the toilet as often, but it can be good to help your stomach get started if you have problems. Try to move in the first place, and eat high-fiber foods – and other foods that help, before you go on laxatives or the like.
  • Fatigue – you often feel more alert from fasting, so you should check it out if you feel tired for a long period. But getting shorter tired dips, in the beginning, is expected.
  • Dizziness – if it is something temporary, you can try extra salt and water, but if it holds up, you should check it out!

Cautions to be taken while Fasting

Take good care of your health. Before applying something to yourself. Follow the basic precautions given below if you are thinking of doing fast: – 

  • Mindset– Try to prepare in advance for fasting and accurately plan its timing. It is necessary to clearly understand why you are starting your fast. If the reason is good enough, it will be easier to avoid overeating. But if your goal is vague or not clear enough, it’s best not to use fasting.
  • Patients– Diabetic and Hypoglycaemic patients should avoid fasting. They can do fast after normalizing blood glucose levels.
  • Women-Breastfeeding and pregnant women should not fast. It is better to consult a doctor first.
  • Underweight– Do not fast if you are underweight as it may lead to various health problems.
  • Hydration– It is important to be hydrated during the fast. Drink as much water as you can. Take plenty of sleep or rest.

[Also Read: Signs You Should Break a Fast]

Bottom Line

A person can lead certain habits throughout his life, to which his body gets used. Therefore, once deciding to fast quickly, it is necessary to understand that what actually fasting is. After reading the article, we come to know what fasting is, how it is beneficial to us, its types, and what precautions are needed during fasting.

Always keep in mind fasting may have different effects on different people. So it is good to be aware of the above-given information for any future relevance.

About The Author:

Dr. Vikram ChauhanDr. Vikram Chauhan – MD (Ayurveda) is the CEO and Founder of Planet Ayurveda and Krishna Herbal Company.  He is an expert Ayurveda consultant from Chandigarh and practicing in Mohali, India.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll To Top

Sign up for our Newsletter !
Get access to quality &
Natural Health Tips right from the Experts
Subscribe !
Send this to a friend