We live in a fast-paced, always-on-the-go culture. It’s good to take things slow sometimes, to give ourselves a chance to rest and reset ourselves. Going on a fast is a great way to pump the brakes on your diet, giving yourself a quick break from food and/or drinks as you rest, reevaluate, and rejuvenate. For this week’s Wellness Wednesday, we look at how fasts work and what they can do for you.
How Does Fasting Work?
Fasting involves a brief period of time where you refrain from eating or consuming certain foods and/or liquids. A typical fast usually lasts between 12-24 hours. There are several different varieties of fasting:
- Water fasting: the “classic fast,” this involves only drinking water for a set period of time.
- Juice fasting: a fast where you only drink vegetable or fruit juice.
- Partial fasting: wherein you only eliminate specific foods or drinks (like caffeine, processed foods, meat, etc) from your diet for a brief period of time .
- Intermittent fasting: perhaps the most complicated form of fasting, intermittent fasting is when you cycle between periods of fasting and eating over a longer period of time.
- Calorie restriction: Not a full-on fast where you cut out entire types of foods/drinks but instead work on reducing the amount of calories you consume during the fasting period.
Is Fasting Safe?
Most people who are healthy can fast for 8-24 hours without consequence. The essential thing is to make sure you don’t get dehydrated and to make sure you eat a vitamin-rich diet BEFORE you fast so your body has a storehouse of minerals and nutrients to fuel it during your fast. Be sure to consult with your doctor before taking up fasting.
While a typical fast shouldn’t bring on any unpleasant side effects, intermittent fasting could trigger the following:
- Decreased concentration
Benefits Of Fasting
Fasting does have some tangible physical and mental benefits.
- Blood sugar control: Studies have shown that fasting can improve blood sugar control by decreasing blood sugar levels and reducing insulin resistance.
- Anti-inflammatory: Fasting can reduce levels of C-reactive protein in the body, which is a marker of inflammation.
- Weight loss: Fasting reduces the amount of calories you take in and speeds up your metabolism, which can make it easier to burn more calories.
- Good for heart health: Fasting can decrease your levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is “bad” cholesterol. Combine this with fasting’s effect on blood sugar and its ability to reduce blood pressure and it can do a lot of good for your heart.
- Improved mental functioning. The improved blood flow that comes from fasting also helps with cognition and mental processing.
Article by Austin Brietta
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