25 Health Benefits of Fasting – For Physical and Mental Health
Fasting is closely associated with Ramadan and Muslim though the fact is religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity are also practicing fasting. However, today there are a lot of people are practicing fasting not only for faith reasons like athletes who are practicing fasting for health reason and many more. It is because there are a lot of health benefits of fasting that most people don’t aware of.
How to Do Fasting Correctly?
Don’t be mistaken fasting with starvation because they are completely different. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the examples how you do fasting correctly. Before fasting is started, you should take an early breakfast or pre-dawn meal which is also well known as soohor. What you should eat during soohor time is meals that commonly consumed during breakfast or foods that are rich of carbohydrate, vitamin and minerals and fiber so you have enough energy to do whatever activities you should do daily while practicing fasting until the time to break the fast is coming.
Though for some people, the idea of not eating or drinking at all could be scary but for those who have practiced fasting will know that it is so unlikely for people to reach starvation during Ramadan because you need to break the fast daily because you only need to fast from dawn to dusk.
As mentioned above, not only Muslims that are practicing fasting, some religions like Hindu, Buddha and Christian are also practicing fasting but since it is Ramadan and Muslims in around the world are practicing fasting, surely you really want to know what kind of benefits that you could get if you are practicing fasting in Muslim’s way.
- Great Solution to Lose Weight
Fasting is a great solution to lose weight only if you do it correctly. If you don’t do it correctly, instead of losing weight, you will gain more weight. During fasting, when there is no sugar from foods that are entering your body during the day, body will use the stock of fat as the source of energy. Unused fat will lead to weight gain but during fasting, there is no such unused fat because all fat stock will be turned into energy during the day.
Also read: Benefits of Walking for Losing Weight
- Preserves Muscle Strength
As mentioned in point number one is all unused fat will be stocked in your muscle. Every time you consume carbohydrate or fat, the glycogen (fat cells) will be added to the stock. If this condition is continued, condition like weight gain is likely to happen. However, during fasting those stocks will be very useful as the source of energy and leave your muscle toned and strong without excessive fat cells.
- Solution for Athlete to Improves Muscle Mass
Today, fasting is like a new age diet program because many people have proven how effective fasting in controlling their weight as well as preserving their muscle. That’s why many athletes now are considering to practice fasting as part of the solution to improve their muscle mass. However, don’t overdoing it because wrong way of fasting could lead to starvation that could endanger muscle mass and totally a nightmare for athlete.
- Reduces Cholesterol Level
The ability of body in controlling weight loss will affect to the reduction of cholesterol level. There are two types of cholesterol, first is LDL which is also best known as ‘bad’ cholesterol and HDL which is the reverse or well known as ‘good’ cholesterol. Some studies have shown that during fasting the level of LDL is going down significantly, which is good, while fasting is not affecting the HDL level at all.
Also read: Foods that Lower Cholesterol Level
- Good for Diabetic Patients
The main problem that usually face by diabetic patient is how difficult in controlling their appetite. If a person with diabetic condition cannot control their appetite, it will lead to constant spike of blood sugar level. However, during fasting the patients will be ‘forced’ to control it. Initially, it could be really hard but after sometimes body will adjust to the habit and even diabetic patients will have a better control to their blood sugar.
Also read: Types of Diabetes
- Improves Insulin Sensitivity
It has been proven scientifically that fasting has positive and significant effect toward insulin sensitivity. During fasting your body could tolerate carbohydrate in much better way and because of that insulin will be more effective in sending information to cells to use the stock of glucose for energy.
- Controls Blood Pressure
How fasting is actually effective for controlling blood pressure is because during fasting weight will be reduced. This condition will affect the reduction of blood pressure as well. However, what you eat after you break the fast is also important because what is the point of fasting if when the time for you to eat, you take it as revenge time.
Also read: Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
- Improves Brain Function
Many studies have shown that fasting could boost the production of certain protein which is beneficial for brain function best known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF. This kind of protein will activates the brain stem cells so they could function optimally. That’s why during fasting, instead of feeling dull and unfocused, you will become more alert because your brain is functioning in much better way.
- Reduces the Risk of Alzheimer and Parkinson
The same protein mentioned in the point number 8, BDNF also able to reduce the risk of Alzheimer and Parkinson disease. Because, those conditions occurs when your brain cells are not able to regenerate optimally but BNDF will provide protection to brain cells from changes.
Also read: How to Prevent Alzheimer and Dementia
- Gives Mental Clarity
Most people don’t know that fasting also able to give them mental clarity because during fasting, BNDF is not only affecting the brain cells but also nerve cells. Furthermore, during fasting your body will learn how to control your desires towards foods and drinks, in the process your brain is adjusting to the condition and learning how to be more patience and have a better control with emotion.
- Improves Immune System
In animal study, when they are sick, animal instinct will tell them to focus on resting and stop eating. Well, it also applies for human because during fasting, you give your internal system a rest for a while so your body could focus on fighting the infections. The amount of free radicals is also reduced during fasting.
- May Prevent Cancer
Well, just like any other cells, cancer cells also required certain properties to develop. However, during fasting, the process will starve the cancerous cells and stop them from spreading and affecting the other organs. Though more studies related to this subject are still required.
Also read: How to Prevent Cancers
- Recommended for Cancer Patients
Chemotherapy cannot be avoided by cancer patients because the therapy will help them slowing down the development and the spread of cancerous cells. Unfortunately, this great invention is not without side effects. Some studies conducted by some cancer patients have shown that there are some positive impacts of fasting in reducing the side effect of chemotherapy.
- Reduces Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress could lead to cells damage which is mostly caused by free radicals. It is true that you cannot stop cells from aging but oxidative stress is only accelerating the aging process and if it is not balanced with optimal cell regenerations, the direct effect is premature aging. Fasting is effective solution to reduce oxidative stress because during fasting you could reduce the damage of free radicals.
- Prevents Inflammations
This point is closely related to point number 11 because during fasting your body has more time and energy to focus in increasing the immunity system as well as regulating inflammatory condition. Most people still don’t realize that inflammatory is actually the roots of some serious conditions, especially conditions related to cardiovascular health.
- Promotes Healthy Digestive System
The Chinese always emphasis that the core of human body is in their stomach. Scientifically, stomach is the source of everything that’s why stomach is the one that work the hardest. During fasting, you give this organ some rests so they could recharge, detoxify or even cleanse itself and when the time the stomach should function again, it will be in a fresh stage.
Also read: Symptoms of Colon Cancer
- Improves Bowel Function
Healthy digestive system will affect the bowel function as well. There are so many benefits you could get when your bowel is functioning optimally like no constipation, no stomach problems and many more. However, consuming high fiber when eating pre-dawn meal and dusk meal is still highly recommended.
Also read: How to Prevent Diarrhea
- Speeds Up Body Metabolism
As mentioned in point number 16 when your stomach is recharged during fasting, it is also applied to your body metabolism. The tired your body is the slower the metabolism will be. However, when you give your body some rest even for a while, instead of causing you harm, fasting will assist in speeding up the metabolism.
- Slows Down the Aging
Many studies have proven that fasting could enhance the resistance of body toward oxidative stress. You must have known that oxidative stress contributes in accelerating the aging process or cells degenerations. The effect is not only making you look older than you should be but also affecting your body metabolism so serious conditions and diseases could appear.
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- Great for Skin
Do you want to have healthier and brighter skin freed from acnes and wrinkles? Try to do fasting and get all the benefits for your skin. During fasting, your body will have a chance to clean itself from toxins and at the same time improving the cells regeneration process while slowing down the process of cell degenerations.
- Gives You Self-Enlightment
Fasting is not only able to cure yourself physically but also consciously. Do you know that digestion is a process that so energy absorbing? That’s why during fasting, instead of focusing on digestion process, your body has more energy to do other things, that’s why with clean body and clearer mind, you give yourself a chance to be more aware with your surroundings.
- Learn How to Curb Hunger
Do you know that there are actually two types of hunger and one of them is real hunger? Well, if you are eating regularly, it is so unlikely for you to experience the real hunger but with fasting you will know what real hunger is actually. This condition will affect a certain hormone that will act as the trigger of real hunger. One of the benefits you could get from experience the real hunger is you will enjoy your food more because whatever they are, the foods will taste better. It is totally an improvement of appetite.
- Improves Eating Pattern
With all the things you should do daily sometimes you forget to eat and when the time you eat, you already lose your appetite so you eat less or the opposite, you eat like a beggar who don’t eat for weeks. Those eating patterns are so not healthy. Fasting will help you improving your eating patterns because you should eat based on schedule.
Also read: Health Risk of Anorexia Nervosa
- Helps You Reset Your Metabolism
Fasting is like a reset button for your metabolism. Fasting will give your digestion some times to rest. If you eat regularly, it means your digestion is working nonstop everyday for 24/7. However, during Ramadan month, at least your digestion system gets sometimes (about a month) to rest. It will help you reset your metabolism so it could function optimally.
- Be A Better You
As mentioned in some points above that fasting gives you benefits not only physically but also mentally, especially for you who are doing fasting in Ramadan month. There are so many good things you could do during Ramadan instead of spending your time eating. So, fasting is not only cleansing your body physically but cleansing your soul as well. The perfect combination to be a better you.
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What Happen to Human Body during Fasting?
Logically, to do activity you need energy and foods are the source of energy. During fasting, the source of energy is coming from the pre-dawn meal and the dusk meal when you break the fast and after that if you are so into midnight snack. In other words, since most of activities are conducted during the day, the energy source is coming from the pre-dawn meal only. That’s why very, foods you consume in as pre-dawn meal should be packed with high nutrients.
- Your body needs about 8 hours until all nutrients from the last meal (pre-dawn meals) were fully absorbed. So, if you are eating pre-dawn meals around 4 AM, it means your body starts entering fasting state around 12 PM.
- After 12 PM, glucose that was released will be used as the source of energy. The stock of glucose is different from one to another.
- When the stock of glucose is also running out, body will use the stock of fat to be the source of energy. That’s why fasting is great for weight loss.
When you reach the dusk, you could break the fast and provide your body with all the nutrients that are required by your body. However, if you don’t break the fast and the stock fat in your body is also running out, body will use the stock of protein for energy source, that’s when your body is suffering from starvation. That’s why very important for you to conduct fasting correctly and get all the health benefits of fasting.
As mentioned above there is no such health risk of practicing fasting if you do it correctly. However, not everyone knows how to do fasting correctly and the lack of knowledge of how to do fasting correctly could lead to some health risk.
- One of the rule you should follow when the dusk comes, you should break the fast immediately. That rule is even stated in the Quran and Haddist because it is no good to postpone the break time. If you postpone the break time too long, your body will start suffering from starvation.
- Meals you consume during Ramadan should balance between foods and fluids. If you are doing some activities that cause you sweating while fasting, you have to make sure to drink more water or your body will suffer from dehydration which could lead to severe headache and nausea.
- Making sure to consume enough carbohydrate and fat during fasting or your body will suffer from the lack of glucose and fat so the only source for energy is protein that will lead to muscle breakdown.
- Be careful with sugary foods because those kinds of food will give you nothing but weight gain.
- The way you cook the foods are also important to notice. It is better to avoid deep fried foods because those kinds of foods could cause sore throat, a condition that relatively easy to handle in normal condition but sore throat could be a nightmare for those who are practicing fasting.
- Pregnant mother could do fasting though it depends on the condition of the mother. Even there are some conditions or dispensations for pregnant mother that allow them to not fasting during Ramadan.
In summary, fasting is offering a great solution for those who are looking for a healthy living lifestyle. There is no such diet program that could beat how great fasting is in improving your body metabolism and controlling your weight. However, sometimes the idea of not eating and drinking for several hours could be a scary commitment for some people.
One important thing to note, billions of Muslims are doing fasting without problem, so fasting is not a scary things at all. If you are currently striving to look one diet program that suits you best, why don’t you try practicing fasting and enjoy all of its benefits.
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