Many of our patients have heard us talking about the importance of fasting periods during the day and overnight. There are many reasons for our repetitious encouragement. Here are a few:
Fasting results in lower insulin levels, higher growth hormone levels and increased amounts of norepinephrine (noradrenaline), all of which make our body burn fat for energy. For this reason, short-term fasting can actually increase your metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, helping you burn even more calories.
Fasting has also been shown to improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin. In a study reported earlier this year in Internal Medicine News, people fasting at least 13 hours or longer at night had a significantly lower glycated hemoglobin level, which means their sugars on average were lower.
Fasting also gives your body a chance to “clean up”, so to speak. It gives your body time for cellular repair and to process toxins, which can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. This should have benefits against aging and the development of numerous diseases.
These periods of no caloric intake are also necessary to maintain the proper hormonal balance. When we eat throughout the day, we interfere with the natural release of our hunger and satisfaction hormones, thus making it difficult for us to tell when we are actually hungry or not. Fasting can act as a “reset” button and allow our hormones to fall back in to proper alignment and function.
Another powerful impact of fasting is a decreased risk of breast cancer recurrence. Results from the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) study demonstrated that women with a history of breast cancer who fasted 13 hours or longer overnight were 36% less likely to have a recurrence.
There is also research showing that fasting may improve brain function as well as help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. Other data show it may improve your immune system, and even improve our sense of wellbeing.
So the next time you feel a little hungry in between meals, do yourself a favor: drink some water, take a brisk walk, and smile as you reflect on all of the wonderful things that are likely happening in your body!