Fasting is a practice that dates back millennia and plays a key part in many cultures and religions.
It includes cycling between eating and fasting periods, extending for a few hours at a time.
Fasting has many significant effects on human health, including weight loss and enhanced control of blood sugar, heart health, brain function, and cancer prevention.
Here are seven significant effects of fasting on human health.
In This Article
1. May Enhance Heart Health
Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death, responsible for about 31.5% of fatalities worldwide (1).
One of the most efficient ways to decrease your risk of heart disease is to change your diet and lifestyle.
Study has observed the effects of fasting on heart health. The study shows that eight weeks of alternate-day fasting decreased bad cholesterol and blood triglycerides by 25% to 32% (2).
Another study of 110 heavy people shows that fasting reduces blood pressure and blood triglyceride levels (3).
2. Boosts Weight Loss and Metabolism
Study has also discovered that short-term fasting may increase metabolism by increasing concentrations of the norepinephrine neurotransmitters, which may increase weight loss (4).
One study shows that fasting can reduce body weight by up to 9% over 12–24 weeks (5).
3. Stimulates Blood Sugar Control
Fasting can enhance insulin sensitivity, which can be helpful for those at risk of diabetes. In reality, one study in 10 people with type 2 diabetes showed that short-term intermittent fasting considerably reduced blood sugar levels (7).
Another study discovered that both intermittent fasting and alternative-day fasting had the same effects as restricting calories to reduce sugar in the blood (8).
Reducing insulin resistance can improve the sensitivity of your body to insulin, making it more efficient in transporting glucose from your bloodstream to your cells.
This can help keep your blood sugar stable, preventing spikes in your blood sugar levels.
4. May Boost Brain Function
They have conducted most of the fasting studies on brain function in animals.
An animal study shows that both brain function and brain structure increased by practicing intermittent fasting for 11 months (9).
Fasting may help in relieving inflammation. It can also help in preventing neurodegenerative disorders. According to some animal studies (12, 13), fasting can protect you from conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. However, to test the effects of fasting on human brain function, we need more studies to draw a conclusion.
5. Reduces Chronic Inflammation
A study shows that chronic inflammation is a risk factor for many permanent diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis (14).
Fasting may have remarkable effects on inflammation and contribute to improving overall health. One study of 50 healthy people showed that intermittent fasting reduced inflammatory markers (15).
Another small study found the same impact when people fasted for one month, 12 hours a day (16).
6. Increases Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone (HGH) is a protein hormone that is key to many functions in the body.
Several studies have discovered that fasting can boost levels of HGH. One study of 11 healthy adults showed a significant increase in HGH during 24 hours of fasting (21).
Fasting can also help maintain blood sugar and insulin levels throughout the day. This can further optimize the levels of HGH (22).
7. Can Aid in Cancer Prevention
Animal and test-tube studies show that fasting could be helpful in the prevention of cancer.
One animal study discovered that fasting helped prevent the development of tumors (23).
Unfortunately, most studies are limited to animals (24).
Despite these promising results, we need further studies to ensure the effects of fasting on cancer.
There are many kinds of fasting that suit almost every lifestyle, from water fasting to intermittent fasting and calorie restriction.
If combined with a nutritious diet, you can benefit your health by integrating fasting into your routine.