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Unexpected Benefits To Your Health Of Fasting

Fasting has always been considered an activity that promotes spiritual enlightenment and is observed by many different religions the world over.

Unexpected Benefits To Your Health Of Fasting

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It encourages discipline and a commitment to exploring strength and tenacity while undergoing physical and mental challenges. At the same time, those who participate in fasting report that the act leads to greater clarity of thought and mental acuity.

What are the parameters of fasting?

In its simplest format, fasting is the abstention from all food and drink during a period of time. In Islam, the main time for fasting takes place during Ramadan, a holy month during which all Muslims around the world fast during the daylight hours between sunrise and sunset. A meal (suhoor) is consumed before dawn breaks, and then once the sun sets, the fast is broken with another meal (iftar).

What if fasting is detrimental to your health?

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Fasting for religious purposes is far stricter than fasting for health – you are not permitted to put anything into your mouth, including water and cigarettes, which makes it all the more challenging, especially for Muslims living in hot countries. To not being able to imbibe even a drop of water when temperatures are regularly into the high thirty degrees centigrade can be detrimental to health.

It is for this reason that the religion takes this into consideration for those who are too ill, or maybe pregnant, and for whom fasting might be dangerous. If someone is not able to fast then they can pay Fidya – a set amount that is calculated on the basis of feeding one person per day for the length of the fast (Ramadan lasts for 30 days).

But fasting can also be beneficial to your health too

Fasting for health is normally structured around intermittent fasting, whereby a fast is structured according to how experienced you are, and what you want to achieve. Initially, daily fasts can be built around eating windows. For example, if you are new to fasting, you may initially want to fast for 12 hours and have a 12-hour eating window.

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However, the longer the fasting period, the more effective it is in terms of both weight loss and improvements to your health. Over time you can work your way from 12-12, to 14-10 (14 hours fasting, 10 hours eating), to 16-8, and so on to 20-4.

(By the way, an eating window does not mean that during those hours you can eat as much of anything as you can possibly pack in – rather, it means eating a light, nutritious meal that will give you energy over a period of time, rather than calorie-dense foods that will create insulin spikes).

As you become more experienced at fasting, you can then start to look at doing fasts that last between 24 and 72 hours.

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And please be reassured, water is allowed during a health fast.

What health improvements will I see?

Below is a list of those improvements to your health that you will benefit from as you become more adept at fasting:

  • Reduces insulin resistance and decreases blood sugar levels.
  • Reduces chronic inflammation, which has been proven to have serious implications for overall health.
  • Reduces levels of cholesterol, blood pressure and levels of blood triglycerides, promoting better heart health.
  • Enhances brain function and potentially slows down and prevents neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Promotes weight loss – some studies highlight a weight loss of up to 9 per cent over a period of 24 weeks.
  • Increases levels of the human growth hormone HGH that is vital to so many different areas of your overall health.
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