The health benefits of fasting
There are numerous reasons why people are choosing to fast for health. With the largest assumption being that it will aid weight loss efforts. Of course, the science is there, take away calories a day or so a week, resume regular eating habits the rest of the week and for sure some weight will be lost.
For many, taking the decision to fast comes from the feeling of needing a reboot of the system, or a cleanse, or of the need to shift a few pounds. Associated symptoms may be Constipation, Diarrhoea and bloating. There may be un-identified food allergies causing digestive issues, even if you eat 90% healthy, wholesome foods. Some claim that their skin has flare-ups of acne and inflammation, or that they constantly suffer fatigue and brain fog. Others are stressed, on the verge of depression and lacking in sleep, so turn to fasting in order to realign their mental state.
Whichever the reason or method used, fasting has numerous, lesser-known benefits, such as disease prevention, enabling better focus and prolonging life. Anti-Ageing- High blood sugar causes changes in collagen, making it weaker. Fasting lowers blood sugar, helping to improve the appearance of your skin. Cancer prevention- When fasting, your body produces less IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1). This hormone can help cancer and tumour growth, therefore less IGF-1 production can decrease the chances of growth and spread by helping the body remove the cells required for this.
Fasting allows time for your cells to regenerate- not only using your fat for fuel but also targeting older tissue to use when in survival mode. Decreasing inflammation- In our modern lifestyles, too many have diets high in refined sugar, refined carbs, alcohol, meat, dairy, and fried or charred foods which have inflammatory properties. Eliminating these during a fast, can allow the body to respond to, and combat free-radicals.
Depending on which fast you do, and your individual health conditions, fasting can have various effects on your body. Generally, your body reaches a fasted state 8 hours after your last meal, when your gut has finalised extraction of all nutrients from food. The start of a fast is the hardest, as you immediately feel hungry, usually due to skipping your usual eating routine. You may begin to feel irritable.
As your body cannot get quick energy access from glucose in food, the liver begins to convert other materials such as proteins and fats, into glucose. Your body wants to save energy and so heart rate may drop, as blood pressure lowers. You may feel drained, although, this is the point where mental strength is developed and heart health is improved.
Fats are the last to be burned but become the primary fuel source. This is a great source of energy for the body and alleviates the feelings of hunger and tiredness. This process is called Ketosis and balances your blood sugar levels due to the lack of carbohydrates available. This is a great way to target fat stores that may not usually be tapped in to, and a great detoxifier as usually these fat stores also hold toxins back from targeting your system. At this stage, you’ll see the effects of weight loss and clearer skin.
After making it through the first few days of fasting, the body will fully adjust, and you’ll notice a greater energy, positive boost in mood and a clearer mind. Not many make it to this stage, but if you’re able to hold out, the benefits can be remarkable.
The longer you’re able to fast, the greater the opportunity your body has to heal and cleanse itself. However, if planning a longer fast, please make sure to do so under professional supervision. Always, ease your body back into eating solid foods and always stay well hydrated, you can dilute apple cider vinegar in water and then drink it, which may help with your blood sugars.
If you would like to know more about our selection of Fastingretreats, feel free speak to our wellness team who will be able to help you to find the one that is perfect for you - call us on 020 7843 3597 or enquire here.