Already known in our culture for political and religious reasons, fasting is slowly gaining popularity these days for its alleged health benefits. What’s more, new scientific studies come up frequently proving the positive effects of fasting on humans. Most of the medical community, however, still remains somewhat skeptical, suggesting 2,000-2,500 calories a day diet as the best possible choice in the long run.
In any case, the following is what is usually recognized as some of the most common consequences of fasting on the human body, so be sure to have a read through, before considering such a thing.
1. WEIGHT LOSS
Lacking food as its primary energy source, the body starts by burning glycogen stored in the liver. Once this secondary source is up as well, ketosis starts (usually during the second day of fasting). This mechanism involves burning fatty acids instead of carbs in order to obtain glucose, which in time leads to weight loss. There’s also an initial loss of muscle as some amino acids are also turned into glucose, but then this process stops so as to preserve the body’s organs and muscles. Fasting for 8-12 hours at a time (also known as intermittent fasting), however, can prevent muscle loss.
2. IMMUNE CELLS REGENERATION
New evidence suggests fasting may have a rejuvenating effect on the immune system. It also seems to help the body fight against certain conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, while being able to alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy.
A study published in the Cell Stem Cell journal, showed that fasting for periods of 2-4 days at a time can reduce the number of white blood cells (cells of the immune system that defend the body against pathogens). This number goes back up again as metabolism returns to normal, suggesting the body gets rid of weak cells during fasting and then turns to stem cells to generate new, healthier ones.
3. METABOLIC SLOWDOWN
Due to the lack of nutrients entering the body, metabolic rate also decreases in order to preserve energy resources. This slowdown is further influenced by the loss of muscle tissue. The whole process ensures that the energy produced by ketosis will be enough to sustain the body during fasting.
A longer life span is also commonly associated with a slower metabolism and a reduced calories intake. The exact effect of regular fasting on human longevity, though, remains to be proven.
4. REDUCTION OF CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
As food intake ceases, the body is able to use cholesterol as a source of energy. As this process takes place, the amount of plaque being formed inside the arteries diminishes, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
5. MOOD CHANGES
This effect, of course, varies greatly from person to person. Generally speaking, though, it’s not rare to experience certain feelings of anxiety and anger at the beginning, particularly if you’ve never fasted before. At this stage, it’s also quite common to feel tired, as the body begins to get used to food deprivation.
Gradually, a second state characterized by an improved lucidity and sense of comfort starts to settle. This stage usually takes place as the body’s metabolism starts to stabilize, particularly in long term fasting.