Tuesday, 7 August 2012

To fast or not to fast

With summer finally being here, I find myself indulging in more of the succulent ice creams and convenient faster foods like yam fries with aioli sauce. So to combat the increase in fat I’ve taken to the occasional day of fasting after a finger-lickin’ good weekend.
In my experience fasting for 24 hours has been good in that it gives me energy again. It lifts that heavy feeling from my body and gets my mind out of a fog.

So I thought I would do some more research and find out if it actually is good. There’s research out there that says that it does work for people; especially people that are dealing with chronic health issues. Fasting allows the body to use all it’s energy for the sole purpose of healing itself instead of using its energy to digest food. I do believe the body has the ability to heal itself, so that to me makes perfect sense. Fasting is defined as no eating of solids, no juiced veggie/fruit drinks nor smoothies; it is only drinking water for a specified period of time.
There are people who fast in order to heal diseases and illnesses, and more recently it’s becoming trendier for losing weight as well.

What was interesting to me during this research is that men and women tend to physiologically react differently to fasting. With the onset of “nutritional stress” (whether fasting or caloric restriction), male rat brains showed little difference from normal activity. In female rat brains however, there was more activity and more alertness on finding food, indicating their bodies were not coping well with this stress, as well as reduced fertility levels.
In human studies results showed that men had improved insulin sensitivity and lower cholesterol levels, whereas women showed glucose levels worsened while fasting, and only a minor difference in cholesterol levels. In both groups however, there were improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, body fat and weight when people were in the obese/overweight category.

So the real question becomes should you fast and how often. I find that fasting once a week is doable and pleasurable for me. I feel the result physically, mentally and emotionally. It will be an interesting experiment to see what happens if I were to do it more frequently or for longer periods of time.
Once again, it confirms my belief that every person should find out for themselves what works best for them by experimenting and listening to their own body. Don’t take my word for it, or anyone else’s. However, I do advise that if you want to try fasting to deal with chronic health issues, you find a health institute that can monitor you and your body’s reactions to the fasting to get productive and beneficial results.