What do you know about fasting

What to know about fasting
Everything You Need To Know About Fasting. Often practised to detoxify the body or lose weight, fasting consists of stopping eating for a more or less long period. But its benefits don't stop there.

What is fasting?

Everything You Need To Know About Fasting

Fasting is the voluntary abstention from food, drink, or both for a set period. It has been practiced for various reasons throughout human history, including for religious, spiritual, or health purposes. Fasting can take on different forms and durations, and it may involve abstaining from all food and beverages or specific types of foods for a specified time.

Here are some common types of fasting

  1. Intermittent Fasting (IF): This involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. The most popular methods include the 16/8 method (fasting for 16 hours and eating during an 8-hour window) or the 5:2 method (eating normally for five days and significantly reducing calorie intake on two non-consecutive days).
  2. Water Fasting: This type of fasting involves consuming only water for a set period, ranging from a day to several days. It's essential to stay hydrated during water fasting.
  3. Juice Fasting: This involves consuming only fruit or vegetable juices and abstaining from solid food for a specific duration. Juice fasting provides some nutrients while still giving the digestive system a break.
  4. Religious Fasting: Many religions incorporate fasting into their practices. For example, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan, while Christians may observe fasting during Lent.
  5. Extended Fasting: This involves more extended periods of fasting, often exceeding 48 hours, and may extend to several days. Extended fasting should be approached with caution and may require medical supervision.

An ancestral practice

Humans and animals have always practised fasting. Often conditioned by lack of food or disease, it is a voluntary practice today.
It is an integral part of many religions such as Christianity, Hinduism or Islam. Among Christians, for example, a fast is practised during Lent, and Fasters alternate complete fasting and lean days for 40 days.
Fasting was mainly practised during Antiquity, among the Greeks and Romans, for medical or spiritual reasons.

Hippocrates, considered the "father of medicine", already extolled its merits: "When the body is charged with impure humour, make it endure hunger, it dries out and purifies ".

Food deprivation was indicated to prevent or treat various diseases such as epilepsy. It was also recognized to have virtues of promoting the process of self-healing.
Sick or injured animals that instinctively stop feeding are the best example.

A regeneration process

For many, fasting is a mysterious practice, often associated with the idea of ​​hunger, illness or weakness. But it is more a process of global regeneration both at the physical level, to purify and cleanse the body, and emotional and energetic.
From a medical point of view, fasting would participate in the regeneration of specific organs (liver, lungs, skin, etc.) and stem cells, the mothers of all cells in the human body.

How fasting work?

What is fasting?

Glucose deprivation

After 36 hours, the body has exhausted its stores of glucose. This first stage results in a feeling of hunger, fatigue or heartburn.
In response, the body will produce glucose through glycogenolysis. This process breaks down liver glycogen into glucose, which further stabilizes blood sugar levels.

The state of ketosis

Without sugar stores, the body relies on fat rather than carbohydrates for energy. After 36 to 48 hours, it draws on fat and enters a state called "ketosis".
Fats are broken down to produce ketones, fueling the brain and muscles. As ketone levels rise, they replace glucose as the primary energy source.
During this phase, it is possible to feel headaches, nausea and significant fatigue. These symptoms are characteristic of an attack of acidosis, an everyday phenomenon linked to eliminating toxins.

The feeling of hunger disappears.

From the 6th day, the feeling of hunger is less present. This is due to ketones, anorectic or "appetite suppressant" compounds. At the same time, they increase the production of neurotransmitters (dopamine, adrenaline, serotonin, etc.) involved in appetite regulation.

New physical and mental energy

The disappearance of hunger is accompanied by a new vitality and alertness. Thanks to the stimulation of neurotransmitters, the fasting person feels a boost of energy and a feeling of well-being or even euphoria. The body stabilizes.

Food recovery

At the end of the fast, the resumption of food induces the reuse of glucose by the body. It draws again on the reserves of sugar to produce energy.

The benefits of fasting

The benefits of fasting

Fasting Helps to lose weight

This is often one of the first motivations of the faster. In the absence of calories, and because the body draws on its reserves, weight loss is rapid and occurs from the first days.
As this study shows, intermittent fasting shows promise for treating obesity.

Fasting  Regenerates the liver

Even if it remains active during the fast, the liver is less solicited than usual. This " rest " period allows it to regenerate, gain vitality and efficiency.
It accelerates detoxification and frees the organ of accumulated toxins. Finally, it can help relieve specific liver pathologies such as cirrhosis.

Fasting Reduces inflammation

As this study shows, fasting can have beneficial effects on inflammation. This practice relieves rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease.
Among the ketones produced during fasting, beta-hydroxybutyric acid is anti-inflammatory.

Fasting Stimulates cognitive functions

Fasting people often notice a boost in their brain activity and improved cognitive functions like memory and learning. Ketones have a neuroprotective effect and slow down the ageing of brain cells.
In addition, fasting supports neurogenesis, i.e. the generation of new neurons in the brain. That's why it's being studied as a potential treatment for neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease.

Fasting Potentially anti-cancer

Fasting shows interesting results against cancer. On the one hand, it deprives cancer cells of glucose, their primary food source. So they end up dying.
On the other hand, it seems to enhance the effectiveness of anti-cancer treatments such as chemotherapy. Finally, it reduces their side effects, as shown in this study.

The different forms of fasting

The different forms of fasting

Intermittent fasting

It consists of alternating periods of fasting and average food intake for a fixed period. The digestive rest phases should last between 12 and 16 hours. It can take different forms. Thus, we distinguish:

  • 16/8 intermittent fasting: eating only part of the day or skipping a meal (breakfast or dinner)
  • 5:2 intermittent fasting: eat 5 days a week and fast for 2 days
  • alternate day intermittent fasting

The dry fast

Practised over a short period, it involves having to abstain from food but also from the liquid.

It can be complete or intermittent, that is to say, practised only over a given day period.

Ramadan, for example, is a dry, partial fast that takes place from sunrise to sunset.

Water fasting

The practice is based on a liquid diet only: water, herbal teas, broths... It is no longer possible to eat solid foods for a given period. It can be practised over several days in a row or alternated with a normal feeding day.

Fasting Side effects and contraindications

Side effects
Stopping the diet and detoxifying the body can cause some side effects:
  • circulatory disorders
  • headache
  • mood disorders
  • bad breath
  • nausea
  • dyspepsia
Always practice fasting under the supervision of a doctor.

Fasting Contraindications

This practice is not recommended for the following people:
  • pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • people with hepatic, renal or cerebrovascular insufficiency 
  • people with eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, etc.)
  • in case of general weakness or cachexia
  • in the case of hyperthyroidism
People on medication should be monitored by a doctor for the duration of the fast.

Fasting Maximum duration

The duration depends on the type of fasting. It varies according to the weight, the fat mass or the general form of the individuals. It could last up to 40 days.