What Are The Benefits Of Fasting?
Fasting is a concept that's known to us for a long time now. It was followed by our ancestors to reap the benefits that come attached to it. Sickness, too, was followed by fasting, because it allowed the body to redirect its energy towards healing and repairing. So fasting is very natural to us, however, today we have moved too far away from this concept because of our habits of constant nibbling, an abundance of food and storage options, etc. But what exactly are the benefits of fasting?
Healing for our body happens when it is in a state of rest and recovery. Fasting is a method that's known to give rest to our digestive system, so it could, in turn, focus and divert energy towards the process of healing. Our digestive system utilizes almost 80% of the energy for processes like digestion, absorption, and assimilation, with 20% of the energy diverted towards healing, repair, recovery, growth, rejuvenation, detoxification, and building of the immune system. Fasting, when done in a supervised manner, is proven to be therapeutic. It has existed for several decades now, and a lot of religions all over the world speak about it. But how we embrace it and eventually put it to practice makes all the difference. If done right, it has a powerful ability to change your life and improve your health. This is done so by waking up the body's inbuilt intelligence to heal itself by utilizing the energy that's saved by fasting.
There are several benefits of fasting, starting from saving & directing the body's energy to heal & repair; rejuvenation; detoxification; cleansing; and reducing inflammation – all of which is necessary for almost every disease known to us today. Recovery is only possible in a complete state of rest, and fasting provides your body with this required rest by giving your digestive system a temporary shutdown.
Different types of fasting
1. Dry Fasting - complete abstinence from food and water during the fasting period;
2. Intermittent Fasting - complete abstinence from food during the fasting period, but one can consume plain water during this time
3. Integrated Fasting - a fasting that begins with intermittent and slowly transitions into dry fasting or vice versa
4. Circadian Fasting - any of the above done according to the circadian rhythm, i.e. fasting begins by sunset and completes by sunrise.
Benefits of fasting
A. Physical benefits of fasting
1. Fasting provides higher energy levels to the body.
2. It aids better digestive health, reduces bloating, and helps indigestion. People who have observed fasting, reported waking up with absolutely no bloating at all. It also helps in improving gut microbiota (good and bad bacteria ratio)
3. It reduces arthritic pains and swelling by reducing inflammation
4. It also helps with better blood sugar control, if done the right way
5. It aids better sleep patterns
6. It helps in improving immunity
7. It aids better-looking skin and hair
8. It helps people find control over their cravings for sugary and junk food
9. With a mindful appetite, breaking the weight-loss plateau is also possible
10. Fasting is also known to be anti-ageing in nature and helps in detoxifying the body while improving hormonal imbalances
11. Fasting also promotes stem cell regeneration, autophagy, lean muscle growth, while generally extending one’s lifespan and vitality
12. It’s also a great stimulus for HGH (human growth hormone)
B. Mental benefits of fasting
1. It aids better concentrations levels;
2. It helps with better mental clarity, a clearer thinking process, and no mental fog
3. It also helps protect the brain against neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
C. Emotional benefits of fasting
1. It provides an increased sense of gratitude;
2. It helps increase a sense of calm and happiness;
3. Fasting is known to promote the emotions of feeling-good-from-within, positivity, peacefulness, happiness and an overall improved mood. It's also known to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression (must be supervised and is not a replacement for medication);
D. Spiritual benefits of fasting
1. It helps in offering deepened and enhanced prayers
2. It helps build a deeper spiritual connection with oneself
3. It aids better meditation and the ability to focus;
4. During fasting, it’s easier for us to connect our physical body to our spiritual self. Unfortunately, a lot of people believe that fasting is only a religious activity, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. While it’s true that most religions do encourage fasting, you can still be a non-religious person and fast. One can also meditate better when their digestive system (along with its communication with the brain function) is given a complete rest
5. Since our thoughts during the fasting period aren’t all so consumed by what we are going to eat next, we have more energy to devote to spirituality. Dry fasting also cleanses our chakras while giving way to more creativity with our heightened awareness and brain activity.
Having said all this, fasting can also be dangerous if done the wrong way or if it’s done more out of a fad or competition than as a better lifestyle choice. Fasting doesn’t have to suit each and everyone, so people should be careful while testing their capacity with it. One also doesn’t have to do fasting for extended periods to get results. For example, people with chronic kidney or acid reflux issues need their doctor's assistance in understanding whether fasting is suitable for them or not.
Overall, while fasting is beneficial for a number of health reasons; it’s still crucial that you consult your doctor or health expert before starting to regularly fast and practice it in an informed way.
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