Benefits of fasting—the what and the how
Weight lossControlled fasting within a set number of hours can be a safe way to lose weight as it allows the body to burn through fat cells more effectively than just regular dieting. After around eight hours after you eat a meal, the body must dip into glucose stored in the liver and muscles. When the stored glucose has been used up, the body begins to tap into fat reserves as a source of energy, which can result in weight loss.
Strengthen your heartResearch shows that fasting can help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and combat diabetes. Controlling these factors means reducing our risk of heart disease.
Boost wellbeingAs your body burns fat, the toxins stored in the fat are dissolved and removed from the body to produce a detox effect. Dr Valter Longo and colleagues from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles (USC), discovered that after a few days of fasting, higher levels of ‘feel-good’ hormones endorphins are produced in the blood, which can have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing.
Regenerate the immune systemResults of the USC study suggested that prolonged fasting may regenerate immune cells. The team found that repeated cycles of fasting over a six-month period cleared out old and damaged immune cells in mice and generated new ones.
Reboot your metabolismIntermittent fasts have been shown to regulate your digestion and promote healthy bowel function, which improves your metabolic function. The theory is that intermittent fasting gives your digestive system a rest, which re-energises the metabolism and helps it to burn energy more efficiently.
Fasting isn’t for everyone, however, so it’s best to consult your doctor before starting a fasting diet or any other new diet plan.