What Health Research Tells Us About Fasting

health benefits fasting

Fasting has become a top trend and a nutrition buzzword in recent years, but what does health research tell us about fasting?

Many celebrities have claimed that the dieting method has helped them achieve their desired weight. These include personalities like Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson and Reese Witherspoon. And they’re some of the biggest and most influential stars. With legions of fans aiming to look as good as these actors, many followed suit, jumping on the fasting bandwagon.

Is fasting as beneficial as people claim it is?

Some might think that they may end up with extreme cravings because of fasting restrictions. Though this can be true, there are other reasons for this. Tackled in our article on ‘Why Do We Crave Certain Foods?’, these factors may include stress, lack of sleep and excessive sweating. Fasting also doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to eat particular things. It just means that meals aren’t taken as often as people usually do. If you want to try your hand at fasting, here’s what health research is saying:

It’s effective for weight loss

One of the most well-known effects of fasting is its ability to help people lose weight. This is mainly because of the low-calorie count that people get when fasting, compared to what they normally would following the traditional eating patterns. Nutrition researcher Kris Gunnars explains that fasting helps with the reduction of insulin levels. It also increases the production of the chemical norepinephrine, which helps in burning fat. If you are planning to fast to lose some pounds, it will definitely be effective as seen with the many celebrities who credit it to be the reason they stay so fit.

It can help reverse metabolic disorders

Fasting can have a few hormonal benefits. Scribd’s write-up on the book ‘Life in the Fasting Lane’ discusses how this is also very beneficial for those with diabetes, especially Type 2. Furthermore, it is beneficial for other conditions like hypertension and high cholesterol. Switching to fasting could help you control, and even reverse, a diagnosis for these conditions.  This is mainly because of its ability to help in lowering insulin levels and correcting insulin resistance. Will Smith even credits fasting to be the reason he was able to stop taking his blood pressure medicine. It is proven to keep hormones balanced, which helps with overall health.

It has proven cognitive benefits

One of the lesser-known pros of fasting is that it can help with mental function. Research done by neurologist Matthew Philips found that it can actually help as a therapy for people who have suffered neurological conditions like strokes and epilepsy. Fasting aids in slowing down the deterioration of neurons, which are the messengers in our brains, and allow us to think and function. For people with normal cognition, it promotes the creation of new neurons. This can help lessen the chance of degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It can also aid in keeping your mental faculties healthy for daily life.

It can aid in reducing inflammation

Lastly, fasting can help with reducing inflammation, which is beneficial especially for those with conditions that cause chronic symptoms. A study done for the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation found that fasting improved the subjects’ peripheral lipid and cytokine profiles. These are the things in our bodies that regulate inflammatory responses, therefore help in being able to regulate the problem. Those with arthritis and some autoimmune disorders may find that integrating fasting into their lifestyle will help in regulating the side effects of their conditions.

Fasting may sound challenging for many, but with its multitude of benefits, it is something that you may find worth trying. You may just end up loving its results.


Feature exclusively written for genesismedical.co.za
by Ann Jessica Bartholomew










The Content on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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