Far from a passing health trend, fasting actually dates back thousands of years throughout multiple cultures. During a fast, no food is eaten for a specified period of time, giving the body a break from food digestion to work on cellular repair and waste removal. Fasting can have wide-ranging benefits including anti-aging effects, blood sugar control, weight loss and general wellness. It's not for everyone, however, as the link between fasting and blood sugar balance should always be considered based on bio-individuality.
There are several different types of fasts, with a range of stages, goals and end results. Most fasts take place over a period of one to three days to allow the body to rejuvenate and remove stored toxins. Intermittent fasting, when a set period of fasting alternates with periods of eating, has also been linked to a wide range of health benefits.
Before embarking on a fast, you may want to talk to your doctor or health practitioner to discuss the right starting point for you. The following are general types of fasts and how they can affect the body:
For many people, fasting is a great way to achieve a body reset, paving the way for a clear mind, more energy and fat loss. But if you have adrenal or thyroid issues, you should address this first as fasting can raise cortisol (the stress hormone) and trigger a fight-or-flight state. If your body is stressed in a fasted state, it will be less able to tap into body fat for energy and will instead pull in more blood sugar for immediate fuel. It's vital to make sure your blood sugar levels (closely connected to thyroid and adrenal levels) are under control to protect the body from additional stress while fasting.
Fasting also helps control insulin levels and may increase the production of the human growth hormone (HGH), which is involved in metabolism, weight loss and muscle building. As you eat, carbohydrates break down into glucose, which raises blood sugar and triggers your pancreas to produce insulin. Constant insulin production may lead to reduced HGH. Fasting enables your insulin levels to lower and balance out, green lighting HGH production.
When it comes to fasting, whether your goal is weight loss or general health, it's important to be mindful of the relationship between fasting and blood sugar. Fasting can help manage blood sugar, but it can be counterproductive and even lead to weight gain over time. In individuals who experience high levels of stress or under certain medical conditions it may not be appropriate until your body is more balanced. That's where speaking to a health practitioner is a great way to assess your individual health and goals and the appropriate personalized wellness plan for you.