Fasting: The Evidence
Since the year 2000, there have been over 800 studies done on the effects of fasting on humans and animals. Most of them are quite small, so don’t pack enough of a punch to state many conclusions with certainty.
But the results so far are promising, and there are some larger studies in the making that will hopefully be able to nail down exactly what is likely to change in your body with fasting.
There’s more work to be done, but it’s looking good so far.
Here are some of the potential effects of fasting on the body:
Insulin levels in the blood decrease significantly
Insulin is the hormone that regulates your blood sugar level. Think of it as the key that lets the high-energy sugar out of your blood and into cells that need it to do all sorts of activities.
High blood sugar levels can lead to you becoming insulin resistant, increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Not good.
Fasting keeps you nice and sensitive to insulin by controlling blood sugar levels, so you need less insulin to do the job. Lower blood sugar levels means more sensitive to insulin, lower risk of diseases. A healthier and happier you.
Cells go into ‘repair mode’
Without having to take on the hassle of new food coming in, your cells have time to grow and repair themselves when you fast. This is especially good for your brain.
Human growth hormone level increases
Human growth hormone production in the body declines as you get older, leading to muscle loss and fat gain. Fasting increases HGH levels in the body. This may help combat the effects of aging.
Improve body conditions for cancer treatment
Fasting activates proteins called sirtuins that may help fight cancer. An increase in sirtuins has potential to slow tumour growth, protect other cells in the body from the spread of cancer, and increase effectiveness of cancer treatments like chemotherapy.
Protect against brain disorders
Aging brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are a leading cause of death among older people. Fasting could keep brains healthy for longer.
Short-term increased metabolism
Fasting lowers insulin and increases levels of human growth hormone and norepinephrine. These lead to a short-term increase in your metabolic rate by around 4-14%.
A higher metabolism allows you to burn calories more quickly and will lead to weight loss. Unless you eat a whole pile of junk food. Don’t do that.