Fasting and its benefits

It is common these days to hear discussions revolve around fasting, about which many things are said!

Intermittent, partial or punctual, food and/or water, it must above all be adapted to each person's lifestyle and needs.

Overview: the different types of fasts

This list will not be exhaustive but we can already cite as being the most "known" fasts:

- intermittent fasting, often called fasting ,

- therapeutic fasting, sometimes called sanogenesis, often food and water,

- religious fasting, etc.

These different fasts are chosen for their particular benefits, depending on their duration and their organization.

It is important to remember that not all of us are ready to fast and that, although we may sometimes think that it is just a matter of willpower, our bodies may not be able to cope with the effort. In this case, it will be appropriate to listen to him and not try to push his limits.

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting consists, as its name suggests, of cutting off food intermittently over the course of the same day, the same week, or even the same month.

On the same day, it is often applied to a rhythm of 8 hours of feeding for 16 hours of fasting .

Over a week, it can consist of applying 24 hours of complete fasting, one or several times.

Over a month, it can consist of alternating a day of eating with a day of fasting, for example.

As you will have understood, there are no rules strictly speaking regarding intermittent fasting, the key is to succeed in sticking to a certain form of regularity.

Therapeutic fasting

Implemented with the aim of sanogenesis, or cleansing the body, this type of fasting is generally very supervised medically.

Indeed, the patient following a therapeutic fast often does so during his/her medical journey, while he/she is in a state of health which requires it but which can also lead to weakness in the event of a lack of fasting. management.

Generally lasting 1 to 3 weeks, it can be both food and water.

Religious fasting

We know all of Lent, or even Ramadan, periods during which practicing Catholics or Muslims stop eating, or only do so according to very specific times.

In this context, it is considered a practice of penance which allows one to become aware of one's shortcomings and to draw closer to God. It is a form of test that every believer must face without failing.

Why fast?

Among the most common motivations for fasting are weight loss and the desire to cleanse the body.

In the first case, fasting is often practiced intermittently and ideally associated with the establishment of a balanced diet. A healthy lifestyle, practicing a sporting activity as well as taking natural food supplements can support fasting in order to optimize the results obtained.

Even once the fast is interrupted, the good habits you have adopted must be maintained in order to ensure lasting weight loss.

In the second case, fasting is practiced with the aim of purifying the body, leaving the digestive organs a beneficial period of respite.

The beneficial effects of fasting

Our digestive organs are put under enormous strain on a daily basis. They are often harmed by an unbalanced or too rich diet. It therefore seems quite natural to give our digestive system a little respite from time to time. Many positive effects of fasting have been highlighted through various studies, although nuances must be made.

Improved insulin sensitivity

Practicing intermittent fasting allows the body to secrete less insulin, thus improving its sensitivity. Fasting would therefore help prevent insulin resistance or improve diabetes management.

However, for people suffering from diabetes, intermittent fasting should be carried out with the support of a specialized health professional. Indeed, fasting can lead to disturbances in blood sugar levels outside of meals, which requires adapting the proposed treatment.

Reduction of oxidative stress

During a fast, the oxidative stress in our body increases slightly, but transiently, allowing the body to adapt and produce more antioxidants. Its adaptation capacities are thus stimulated and it strengthens its protection via the production of antioxidant enzymes.

Weight loss in obese people

Different studies have shown the effectiveness of intermittent fasting in obese or overweight people. It is above all the calorie restriction and the better insulin sensitivity caused by fasting which would promote this weight loss.

Better cardiovascular health

Several studies highlight the benefits of fasting on reducing cardiovascular risk, which is linked to a multitude of factors favorable to good heart health (reduction in visceral fat, reduction in sodium levels, activation of ketosis, better endogenous antioxidant protection, reduction of low-grade inflammation, etc.)

Protection against neurodegenerative disorders

Fasting stimulates the production of neuroprotective proteins and promotes the cleansing of damaged molecules. It thus seems to protect against neurodegenerative disorders, notably Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. It even seems to protect against aging more generally.

Beneficial effects against certain forms of cancer

Some animal studies show a reduction in the growth and number of tumor cells when chemotherapy is given in combination with short cycles of fasting for certain types of cancers.

The NACRe network (National Food Cancer Research Network) indicates, however, that the benefit of this type of diet has not yet been demonstrated in humans, most studies having been carried out on animals.

Cleaning and recycling of cells (autophagy)

The discovery of the autophagy mechanism was rewarded with the Nobel Prize in Medicine, awarded to Professor Yoshinori Ohsumi in 2016. Autophagy is a process through which the cell optimizes the recycling of its components to facilitate its survival when the energy necessary for its survival is insufficient. New, more functional cells will thus be able to be generated to replace those that have been destroyed.

The absence of calorie intake occurring during a prolonged fast will contribute to the triggering of this natural protective biological process which is autophagy.


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