Fasting is practiced by people from a religious perspective or as a form of political protest. But, does fasting have any health benefit? In this article, we try to figure out the answer to this question.
Let’s see the top 8 health benefits of fasting – backed by science…
Health Benefits of Fasting
1. To improve Immune system
Fasting boosts your immune system. While fasting, your body recycles many of your damaged or old immune cells. This process leads to the generation of new immune cells which are stronger and more active. Besides this, fasting improves your immune system by reducing free radicals and removing toxins from the body. Hence, fasting may be a treatment to improve your immune system.
2. To boost brain activities
Fasting aids to enhance memory performance, recover from brain injury/ stroke, and helps to grow the neurons. Fasting accelerates the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a protein. This protein is required for the conversion of stem cells to neurons. Also, BDNF boosts the release of some other chemicals good for your brain. Moreover, it protects the brain cells from changes linked with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. It is shown by a study on rats that fasting can also prevent memory loss.
3. To prevent cardiovascular diseases
Fasting can support you to keep your heart away from heart-related disease. But how can it possible? Fasting helps to improve your blood pressure. It mainly works by reducing systolic blood pressure. Research says that fasting can lower the risk of Coronary Artery Disease which is a cause of heart attack. Also, the reduction of cholesterol (mainly Low-Density Lipoprotein /LDL) is aided by fasting which is responsible for narrowing the blood vessels. All of these activities diminish the risk of getting attacked by any cardiovascular disease.
4. To resist cancer
According to several studies, fasting is effective to fight against cancer. Fasting can decrease the risk of cancer by reducing the development of lymphoma, reducing the growth of the tumor, and resisting the spread of cancer cells. The study also finds that fasting is helpful for patients who are going under chemotherapy.  So, fasting can be a weapon for cancer.
5. To check diabetes
Fasting helps to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. According to the study, fasting can enhance insulin sensitivity.
In type 2 diabetes, your pancreas fails to produce enough insulin to reduce your blood sugar level. Consequently, your blood sugar becomes high. But if you fast, your blood sugar is used for energy production. As a result, your blood glucose level decreases. Another research, conducted on diabetic rats, finds that fasting helps to prevent damage of the kidney resulting from diabetes. So fasting is beneficial to diabetes type 2.
6. To promote metabolism
Fasting gives a rest to your digestive system. It promotes to renew your digestive power. Fasting may increase the level of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter, in the bloodstream which also improves your metabolism system. Bowel system is also boosted by fasting. Thus, fasting has a positive effect on your digestion metabolism.
7. To lose weight
Fasting has an important role in losing weight. Learn more ‘how to lose weight fast in two weeks‘.  When you eat something, it is converted to energy through the digestive system. But a portion of your consuming food is deposited as fat in the body which leads the body to become bulky. In the time of fasting, this process is disrupted. Moreover, deposited fat may burn to produce energy during fasting. By this, fasting assists you to control your weight.
8. To extend lifespan
Longevity is promoted by fasting. As you grow older, your body’s metabolism gets weakened. This leads to loss of body tissue. Your cells also become weak and old. But if you fast, your older cells are broken down by a process known as autophagy. Then, metabolism is promoted. As a result, your aging becomes slow down. For this, the lifespan of a person who starves is longer than a person who doesn’t.
In addition, generally almost all Muslims fast in the month of Ramadan. They change their eating habits. It helps to health. Again, dates are the main fruits of Ramadan. It has lots of health benefits. Learn more about ‘the health benefits of dates‘.
Hope this article will make you think about fasting from a different angle. If this is helpful to you, just comment below.
Fasting has other side benefits that helps not just the fasting individuals but the whole community too.
First, by not eating during daylight hours (Muslim style fasting from sunrise to sunset), time, energy, effort, and money are saved. Instead of grocery shopping, walking or driving around searching for restaurants, cafes and grocery store, that saved time can be used for other things (reading, learning online, exercise, volunteering, taking care of/visiting elderly parents, gardening, etc.), depending on the person’s work schedule.
Second, the environment benefits because if just ten percent of an average small city fasts from sunrise to sunset, depending on the seasons and geographical location of that city, a lot less pollutants from vehicle exhausts are released. This means the air is cleaner and people and plants are saved from breathing harmful carbon monoxide.
Not only air is cleaner, but less vehicular traffic means less deliveries which further helps the environment by reducing excessive wear and tear of roads, vehicles, less maintenance, less used tires and decreased gasoline consumption.
Third, the community benefits from the discipline that comes from reduced eating. All age groups look up to those fasting and monitor them for signs of health improvements.
Those afraid of fasting due to negative opinions, may reconsider the option of holding back on daily food intake.
The erroneous idea of eating three meals a day plus snacking in between as necessary can be overturned by a small percentage of community members fasting regularly. This duly influences the entire community once it is found out that the fasting members are living proof that refraining from food just two days a week (quarter of a year) helps reduce or even eliminate many types of illnesses.
From heart disease/attacks to diabetes to stomach ulcers and beyond, scientific research show that fasting is a great way to rejuvenate the human body and even increase one’s lifespan.
Fourth, so much energy running after food comes with costs that in the long term, creates needless headaches for the entire city.
Kids and teens, via persistent advertising of restaurant food and snacks and beverages, mimic adults which result in their deteriorating health as they grow, some even developing addictions for certain foods.
If their parents who are into fasting show by example that though food is an important part of life, it is not the only part to spend time preparing and enjoying.
The fasting parents will teach their household to fast at least once a week in order to better understand the value of food and appreciate the food sources’ diverse tastes and nutritional benefits.
Sixth, the benefits of saving money from no breakfast and lunch twice a week ads up quickly. If an average household of four persons of 5000 homes/apartments (10% of a city of 50,000) avoids two meals a day twice a week, with average price per meal(excluding beverages) at ten dollars, here are the savings: $10X2meals=$20, 2days per week X$20=$40. 4 persons per family X$40=$160. 4 weeks per month x $160=$640 per household. Now 5,000 homes x $640=$3,200,000. Three million two hundred thousand dollars in savings just skipping two meals a day twice a week. I have considered the fact that some household’s members are two adult parents and two small kids, or one parent and three kids, or all four teenagers sharing an apartment, or all seniors in one house, etc. Ten dollars for two meals still is a good average in spite of the above scenarios, even though it could be much higher, considering the cost of driving round trip to cafes, restaurants, grocery store, shopping for breakfast and lunch, the gasoline, physical energy and time spent in finding, buying, unpacking, rinsing, chopping, cooking/heating, and spending time just eating the procured foods until one gets up satisfied from finishing their meal, if all these are calculated…well let’s put them aside for now.
“Imagine all the people, living life in peace..” as John Lennon says, that peace is one step nearer to reality if a portion of a city populace starts fasting. How? Peace is not just sitting in a quiet place avoiding responsibilities.
Peace is created through collective efforts of key individuals in society who, along with their families, via directly involving themselves in worthy beneficial actions, persuade/propel the rest of their city residents towards similar acts so all of the population can reap the rewards.
Fasting does result in a more peaceful environment because ten percent, thousands of residents are concentrating on their fasting, thrilled to be in complete control of their food intake from sunrise to sunset. They don’t seek external conflict but internal rewards that reduced eating will bring them.
One can argue that these fasters lack the energy to get entangled in needless arguments and physical altercations. That may be true, but let’s not forget that it take strong discipline and an active conscience to abstain two meals a day in the face of opposition from food merchants, the Media, and their own families.
Fasting isn’t just a physical act with physical rewards; it is also a mental/intellectual act that can bring a greater spiritual foresight. For those who fast, it makes no sense to continue the same path of daily conflicts, of personality clashes over mundane issues. These people will want to maintain peace in the community and wish to share the numerous rewards of holding off on eating. By disrupting and overhauling their food intake schedule established over decades, they have no intention of being unruly. In fact, fasting does and should transform a human from being negative and aggressive into a more respectful, mild-mannered person with a contemplative attitude. This is because while most people continue to enjoy three meals, and as they eat and drink, they won’t have time to contemplate, meditate, etc. A person in the state of fasting automatically becomes contemplative and this helps him/her in many ways: a)thinking/ mental activity increases b)talking, chitchatting decreases, c)physical conflicts decreases, d)understanding/intuition increases, e)appreciation of food, and health, and nutrition increases. It is also possible that by interruption of our daily eating, one increases his/her charitable outlook towards those millions of humans who go through a self-imposed state of fasting all their lives. Almost all human rights, charity and UN organizations agree that millions up millions of humankind live in state of half-starvation. Fasting can forge within us a much needed attitude of feeling responsible for the wellbeing of other people. To be Cont’d…