Fasting is a practice that dates back millennia and plays a key position in many cultures and religions. Intermittent fasting includes cycling between eating and fasting periods, extending from a few hours at a time. Fasting has shown many health benefits such as weight loss and better brain function. Here are 7 great effects of fasting on human health.
1. May Enhance Heart Health
Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death, responsible for about 31.5% of fatalities worldwide. One of the most efficient ways to decrease your risk of heart disease is to switch your diet and lifestyle. Some studies have observed that fasting may be useful for heart health (1).
The research reported that eight weeks of alternate-day fasting decreased concentrations of bad cholesterol and blood triglycerides, by 25 percent to 32 percent. Another research in 110 obese adolescents showed that fasting reduced blood pressure, and blood triglyceride concentrations (2, 3).
2. Boosts Weight Loss and Metabolism
Many people are fasting to drop a few pounds. Abstaining from all foods and drinks should reduce your general consumption of calories, which could lead to enhanced weight loss.
Some studies have also discovered that short-term fasting may increase metabolism by increasing concentrations of the norepinephrine neurotransmitters, which may increase weight loss (4).
One study showed that fasting can reduce body weight by up to 9 percent and decrease body fat over 12-24 weeks. Another study discovered that intermittent fasting over 12 weeks was as efficient as constant calorie limitation in causing weight loss and reduced body weight (5, 6).
Research also discovered fasting to be more efficient than restricting calories in reducing fat loss while maintaining muscle tissue at the same time (7).
3. Stimulates Blood Sugar Control
Several studies have discovered that fasting can enhance the control of blood sugar, which can be helpful for those at risk of diabetes.
In reality, one research in 10 individuals with type 2 diabetes showed that short-term intermittent fasting considerably reduced blood sugar levels (8).
Another study discovered that both intermittent fasting and alternative-day fasting were as efficient as restricting the consumption of calories to reduce insulin resistance (9).
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 maintain your blood sugar stable, preventing spikes and crashes in your blood sugar concentrations.
4. May Boost Brain Function
Mice research showed that both brain function and brain structure enhanced by practicing intermittent fasting for 11 months (10).
Animal studies have documented fasting to protect brain health and boost nerve cell production to help improve cognitive function (11).
Fasting can also help in relieving inflammation, it can help in preventing neurodegenerative disorders as well. Animal study indicates that fasting can protect conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease (12).
However, to evaluate the effects of fasting on brain function in humans, more studies are required.
5. May Reduce Chronic Inflammation
Research shows that inflammation can contribute to chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. Some studies have discovered that fasting can help lower inflammation and contribute to improved health (13).
One research study in 50 healthy adolescents showed that intermittent fasting reduced inflammatory marker concentrations. Another small research study found the same impact when individuals fasted for one month 12 hours a day (14, 15).
6. May Increases Growth Hormone Secretion
Human growth hormone (HGH) is a protein hormone key to many health elements. Research shows that this main hormone involves development, metabolism, weight loss, and muscle strength (16).
Several studies have discovered that fasting can boost concentrations of HGH. One research study in 11 healthy adults showed a significant increase in HGH concentrations during 24 hours of fasting (17).
Fasting can also help maintain blood sugar and insulin throughout the day. This can further optimize the concentrations of HGH.
7. Can Aid in Cancer Prevention
Animal and test-tube studies show that the therapy and avoidance of cancer may benefit from fasting. Rat research discovered that fasting helped prevent the development of tumors (18).
Unfortunately, most studies are limited to animals. Despite these promising results, we need further studies. This is important to examine how fasting can affect the growth and therapy of cancer in humans.
The Bottom Line
Fasting is connected with a broad range of prospective health benefits, including weight loss, and enhanced control of blood sugar, heart health, brain function, and cancer prevention. 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 could benefit your health by integrating fasting into your routine.
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