Benefits of Fasting

The benefits of fasting on our bodies What fasting does for our health

In recent years, the idea of abstaining from food and drinks for extended periods of time has increasingly come into the spotlight, with the latest weight loss fad of intermittent fasting.

Long before this trend, 1400 years ago, the Holy Qur’an spoke to the practice of fasting, saying that this was “prescribed” to believers, just as it had been prescribed those “before us,” so that we may attain “God consciousness.” (Surah 2:183).

While the spiritual benefits of fasting are immense – ranging from increasing our Taqwa to leading us into Paradise – there are also scores of health benefits of this act of worship.

Here is a glance at some of them:

Weight Loss and Fat Loss: Extended periods of fasting can lead to a reduction in calorie intake, helping with weight loss. Fasting also changes hormone levels to facilitate weight loss, as it increases the release of the fat-burning hormone know as norepinephrine (noradrenaline).

Improved sensitivity to Insulin: Fasting can improve insulin sensitivity, which, in turn, can help with the management of blood sugar levels. This potentially reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Moreover, when a person is fasting, their blood glucose levels decrease. The pancreas is then triggered to make and release more glucagon, a hormone that keeps glucose from dropping too low.

Improvement of heart health: Fasting may improve various risk factors for heart disease, such as inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance levels, LDL cholesterol, and blood triglycerides.

Fasting is also found to improve blood pressure and resting heart rates as well as other heart-related measurements.

Improvement in Eating Patterns: Fasting can help regulate eating patterns, especially for those who struggle with eating disorders or unhealthy eating habits, by creating a specific window for eating.

It is also a great way to do away with the habits of “social eating” or snacking throughout the day.

Cellular Repair: Fasting triggers autophagy, a process where cells remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells, which may provide protection against several diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Evidence suggests that fasting or calorie restriction can lead to the induction of adaptive autophagy (a cellular degradation and recycling process) and increase longevity of eukaryotic cells, which play important roles in energy balance, metabolism, and gene expression.

Mental Clarity and Concentration: Fasting has been found to increase focus and concentration by promoting the production of a norepinephrine hormone, which is responsible for increasing alertness, which can improve productivity and cognitive function.

Many people report improved mental clarity and concentration during periods of fasting. This is possibly due to a combination of factors including hormonal changes and reduced inflammation.

Fasting has also been found to improve memory and learning by increasing Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) production. This protein plays a crucial role in the growth and maintenance of brain cells, which can improve cognitive function and curb cognitive decline.

Increased Growth Hormone Secretion: Fasting can significantly increase levels of human growth hormone, (HGH) which plays a key role in growth, metabolism, weight loss, and muscle strength, but naturally decreases with age.

Fasting is a stimulus for HGH secretion. When we are fasting, there is a HGH spike in the early morning, but there is also regular secretion throughout the day as well. 

Share article