Fasting is not a weight loss tool and should not be considered for weight loss all by itself. However, intermittent fasting is very good for health. Fasting sets definite times for eating along with extended times without eating.
The health benefits of intermittent fasting are listed below:
Prevents diabetes: Fasting improves glucose tolerance in the body. It also increases concentration of growth hormone (which antagonizes the action of insulin). Fasting protects lean mass and burns excess fat. This improves insulin sensitivity and prevents diabetes.
Prevents heart diseases: Fasting helps burn excess fat. This will further aid in lowering total cholesterol levels, low-density lipoproteins and very low-density lipoproteins. Fasting also decreases blood pressure, decreasing the risk of Ischemic heart disease.
Protects brain: Fasting has similar effects to exercise on the brain. It increases blood flow to the brain and protects it from many complications. It also decreases neuronal dysfunction and degeneration. People who fast intermittently have fewer symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Parkinsonism, and Huntington’s disease.
Fasting also ensures a decrease in caloric intake, which in turn reduces levels of Insulin like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in the body. IGF-1 is an important marker for prostate and colon cancer. As such, decreasing levels of IGF-1 protects against prostate and colon cancer.
Fasting slows the metabolic rate and decreases or stops cell division.
During fasting, normal cells enter into self-protection mode. They become resistant to external injury.
Fasting allows cells to perform self-assessments, identifying damage and aiding in repair. It also aids in autophagy, which is a normal process of cell destruction. This is an essential component in prevention of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and others.
Fasting may help the immune system identify cancerous cells and destroy them.
It decreases oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
It may also act as anti-aging agent, improves defense mechanisms, enhances recovery, and decreases harmful protein production.
Fasting also alters gene expression so that longevity is ensured.
It decreases the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases. It protects the body from many ailments, from multiple sclerosis to allergies.
There is no harm in intermittent fasting but its effects cannot be compared with the effects of a healthy diet. Fasting is only about setting times with and without food whereas a healthy diet focuses on nutritional and caloric intake.