4 PROVEN HEALTH BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING

Some people fast from food and water unintentionally without knowing it has therapeutic benefits. I do not recommend it for everyone to fast due to medical contraindications like stomach ulcer. However, healthy individuals should engage in it intermittently. What are the specific health benefits of fasting? Are there physiologic changes associated with fasting?

This article highlights the specific health benefits of fasting and the functional changes in the body.

WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?

Intermittent fasting denotes a period in which a person stayed off food and or water for a certain period. This is typically between 12-18 hours in a day or longer.  Fasting has been linked with metabolic body effects- particularly cellular and hormonal changes.

FASTING INDUCED METABOLIC CHANGES

During fasting, there is significant caloric restriction which alters the metabolic hormones in the body. Insulin levels drop substantially and this triggers the breakdown of glycogen and fat stores leading to the release of fatty acids and glucose into the blood. The excess fatty acids in the blood is converted to ketones as alternative fuel for tissues while the glucose is shunted to the brain. This because the brain utilizes glucose as its source of energy.

Overall, fasting increases blood ketone levels, depletes the fat deposits in the body and reduces insulin concentration.

WHAT ARE THE SPECIFIC HEALTH BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING?

The beneficial effects of fasting in the body is linked with the functional changes induced.

REDUCTION OF CARDIOVSCULAR DISEASES

Clogging of the heart blood vessels causes majority of the cardiac diseases like coronary arterial diseases and elevated blood cholesterol level is a causative factor.

Fasting reduces the blood concentration of cholesterol by converting it to ketones. Therefore, this keeps the blood vessels lumen patent enough to optimize the blood supply to the heart.

PROMOTION OF WEIGHT LOSS

The increased breakdown of fat stores in the tissues results in gradual weight loss.

STABILIZATION OF BLOOD GLUCOSE IN TYPE 2 DIABETES MELLITUS

Increased tissue resistance to insulin due to excess tissue fats is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes mellitus. The reduced fat stores caused by fasting improves the tissue response to insulin thereby preventing the elevation of the blood glucose.

IMPROVED BRAIN FUNCTION

Studies have shown raised levels of brain specific growth factors that enhance neuronal cell repairs and promote brain cell resistance to oxidative damages. These changes have been proposed to be beneficial for patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

WHO IS INTERMITTENT FASTING RECOMMENDED FOR?

Individuals who are healthy, neither on drugs nor have stomach ulcer can engage in fasting. Also, people who can tolerate symptoms such as headaches and fatigue should fast.

If you are not in the categories above, either avoid fasting or seek professional counselling from your doctor.

CONCLUSION

Fasting produces positive health effects in the body but it is not ideal for some selected individuals with medical disorders like stomach ulcers to fast.

About the author

I am an experienced practicing Medical Doctor and a medical expert author for ezinearticles.com. I am a double certified content writer for website contents on health/ fitness/nutrition and I am a native English speaker.
I am also proficient with copywriting. I have excellent written communication skills and I am enthusiastic about entrepreneurship, research/academic writing.
I am a semifinalist in 2016 CIAPS Nigeria essay competition and among the top 10% of young innovators in 2018 World Bank ideas for action competition.