How Would Intermittent Fasting Improve Your Health?
“On the Miao-ku-yi mountain there lives a divine one, whose skin is white like ice or snow, whose grace and elegance are like those of a virgin, who eats no grain, but lives on air and dew, and who, riding on clouds with flying dragons for his team, roams beyond the limits of the mortal regions.”
- Zhuangzi, “A Happy Excursion”
From the belief of the ancient Taoist Zhuangzi, who aspires to achieve harmony with nature, to the long-held tradition of the Muslim Ramadan, from the old practice of Christian Black Fast, to ancient Egyptians’ exercise of fasting as self-control, fasting is not an alien concept to lots of cultures. In fact, fasting was used to cultivate both health and self-discipline.
Intermittent fasting, usually exercised as 16 hours of food abstinence combined with an 8-hour eating window, has risen to popularity in recent years. Contrary to the long-cherished human practice of three meals a day with frequent snacking, this new pattern of eating criticizes our traditional way of food consumption and wants us to eat fewer meals and less frequently.
This article illustrates the tremendous health benefits of intermittent fasting.
1. Decrease the chance of developing type 2 diabetes
Insulin resistance is a term we often hear when talking about diabetes. Eating stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin, with carbohydrates being the most triggering.
Over time, as our cells grow more and more resistant to insulin and our pancreas gets exhausted from producing insulin, we might be at the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Hence, reducing our eating frequency is crucial to let our pancreas rest.
2. Avoid the blood sugar roller coaster
Eating, especially carbohydrates, increases our blood sugar in the short term. And after insulin has directed our blood sugar into our cells, our blood sugar drops back down, usually to a normal level.
However, if one’s body overproduces insulin, due to the hyperactivity of the pancreas stimulated by large carb intakes, one might end up with low blood sugar after an abnormal amount of blood sugar has been transferred into the cells.
The blood sugar roller coaster can be dangerous, resulting in after-meal hypoglycemia, inducing symptoms such as muscle weakness, anxiety, irritation, dizziness, lightheadedness, and in severe cases, unconsciousness.
Frequent fasting can help us avoid the overstimulation of our insulin production and reduce significant fluctuations in our blood sugar levels.
3. Expedite weight loss
Our body and brain draw their fuels on carbohydrates and fat. When our body is starved with carbohydrates, it turns to fat-burning for resources. Our fasting period is our body’s prime time for consuming its fat.
4. Induce anti-aging benefits and increase longevity
Countless products have been produced to help us fight against the effects of aging. Who would have thought, the best anti-aging potion in life is free?
Fasting induces a process called “autophagy,” where cells utilize their built-in lysosomes and recycle their damaged parts to construct new cells, beneficial for skin regeneration, brain cell regrowth, immune system boosting, and cardiovascular protection. All these benefits help your body regenerate itself and fight against signs of aging.
5. Improve mental clarity
The hippocampus, a brain part strongly involved with your learning abilities, memory function, and situational awareness, is weakened by high blood sugar and insulin levels. Therefore, fasting will enhance the function of the hippocampus.
In addition, fasting increases the maintenance of existing neurons and stimulates the growth of new neurons in your brain, thus increasing your mental clarity.
6. Reduces inflammation
Acute inflammation such as inflammation in our wounds, can be conducive to injury repairment, but chronic inflammation is toxic for us since inflamed areas can host cancer. Fasting mutes the inflammation-inducing genes, soothes your adrenal glands while boosting your body’s production of natural antioxidants.
7. Decrease the risks of developing tumors
Fasting puts our body into a mode of fat burning. Fat burning produces ketones in the body that it can use for energy. The process of fat burning produces ketones, and tumors, which fuel on sugar, do not feed on ketones. Hence, intermittent fasting and training your body to work with fat can decrease your body’s chance of growing tumors instead of sugar.
8. Everything will be improved
In summary, when your body is not busy digesting, every organ gets to rest. With a rested gallbladder, your body’s digestive system will improve. In addition, fasting can decrease muscle loss, and increase your metabolic efficiency. Due to the “autophagy” process, your skin will naturally age slower. And moreover, your clogged arteries will get a cleanse.
Fasting, and intermittent fasting generate incredible benefits and can save you huge amounts of medical bills down the line. Instead of spending money on food, on weight loss products, and then later, on medical services, why don’t we start ripping off the benefits of intermittent fasting now?
Image source: unsplash.com
Author: Rachel Qianyu Zhang