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The science and benefits of fasting
Dr. Natural 718-783-3465
When it comes to ideas around living a healthy lifestyle, good nutrition and adequate exercise are often core pillars. While this is certainly true, there is more we can consider regarding our relationship with food and healthy living.
Fasting is the willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. Although sometimes viewed as unhealthy, depriving, or reserved for religious reasons, fasting can offer excellent health benefits. As research grows in this area of health, fasting is becoming more widely accepted as a legitimate means of managing weight and preventing disease. At the same time, it is important that fasting is done in proper and healthy ways.
The Science of Fasting
A large body of evidence now supports the benefits of fasting, though the most notable data has been recorded in studies with animals. Even so, these findings are promising for humans. Essentially, fasting cleanses our body of toxins and forces cells into processes that are not usually stimulated when a steady stream of fuel from food is always present.
When we fast, the body does not have its usual access to glucose, forcing the cells to resort to other means and materials to produce energy. As a result, the body begins gluconeogenesis, a natural process of producing its own sugar. The liver helps by converting non-carbohydrate materials like lactate, amino acids, and fats into glucose energy. Because our bodies conserve energy during fasting, our basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy our bodies burn while resting) becomes more efficient, thereby lowering our heart rate and blood pressure.
Ketosis, another process that occurs later into the fast cycle, happens when the body burns stored fat as its primary power source. This is the ideal mode for weight loss and balancing blood sugar levels.
Fasting puts the body under mild stress, which makes our cells adapt by enhancing their ability to cope. In other words, they become strong. This process is similar to what happens when we stress our muscles and cardiovascular system during exercise. As with exercise, our body can only grow stronger during these processes when there is adequate time to rest and recover.
Health Benefits of Fasting
Although fasting can be challenging and sometimes uncomfortable, the mental and physical benefits can:
Boost cognitive performance
Protect from obesity and associated chronic diseases
Improve overall holistic fitness
Support weight loss
Decrease the risk of metabolic diseases
Benefit cancer patients — A recent study with mice and cancer showed that fasting during chemotherapy jump-starts the immune system and exposes the cancer cells. Ridding the body of old, toxic cells and replacing with new, healthy ones may be just the answer. Traditionally, cancer patients have been told to increase nutrients and caloric intake while undergoing chemotherapy treatments but this approach might now be under review.