The Benefits Of Fasting
Hello everyone. Let’s have a chat about fasting. In the last few years, fasting has been gaining popularity across the world as a way of improving human health. Did you know that fasting has been around for centuries and centuries? Humans have been doing it since time began and animals do it too. So let’s see what all the fuss is about…
What Is Fasting?
Fasting is a total or partial abstinence from food. In simple terms this means that for a period of time a person will not eat any, or certain types, of food and drink. Fasting is carried out across the world for many different reasons including as part of religious ceremonies or rituals, as well as for health reasons.
Types Of Fasting
There are many different types of fasting. We’ve broken down a few of the more popular ones below:
- Water fasting — definitely one for the purists. This type of fasting involves drinking nothing but water for a set period of time with the aim of purifying the body and allowing our much-overused digestive systems a well-deserved break. This is apparently one of the hardest types of fasts to carry out.
- Juice fasting — this type of fasting involves only drinking fruit or vegetable juices for a set period of time. Somewhat easier than water fasting due to all of the juicy goodness you are getting from the fruits and vegetables.
- Intermittent fasting — this appears to be the craze at the moment! This type involves fasting t certain times or days in the week and having an unrestricted diet for the remainder of the time. There are a few different types of intermittent fasting. These include:
- Alternate day fasting — eating every other day
- 5:2 fasting — eating a normal diet for 5 days of the week and having a drastically reduced caloric intake on the remaining two days (the two days are not allowed to be consecutive days)
- Time-restricted fasting — eating only within a set time period, i.e. between 7am — 3pm with nothing but water outside of these times.
It is with intermittent fasting where most of the scientific research has been carried out and health benefits have started to be documented much more.
Benefits Of Fasting
So, the big question is… Why fast? Below are some of the documented health benefits buzzing around at the moment:
- Weight loss: It’s a great way of limiting calorie intake without having to be excessive. Fasting helps in the production of certain hormones which help to boost your metabolism. It has been seen to help reduce body fat whilst preserving muscle tissue.
- Reduces chronic inflammation: Studies have shown people who fast intermittently have reduced levels of inflammatory markers in the blood after one month. This could be great for a whole host of inflammatory conditions out there including rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
- Improves heart health: Current research shows benefits on the cardiovascular system including lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Increases levels of Growth Hormone (GH: People who fast intermittently have been shown to have increased levels of GH after their fasting period. This hormone is important in growth, muscle strength, metabolism and aiding weight loss.
- Controls blood sugar: Promising for our type 2 diabetics out there, although larger studies are needed for this area of research as evidence is a bit mixed at the moment. Watch this space!
There are also a whole host of other benefits starting to emerge from animal studies which could be bright for our human future when more research is carried out. These areas include benefits seen in brain function, delayed aging and prevention of cancer.
We hope this has been a helpful insight into the world of fasting. If you are considering doing a fast yourself or would like more information, please get in touch and we’ll be able to point you in the right direction. It is always safest to consult a medical professional before attempting any type of fast yourself as there are certain conditions with which fasting is not allowed. Here’s to a healthier life 🙂
- com. 2020. Fast. [Online]. Available from: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/fasting. [Accessed 08 Jan 2020]
- 2018. 8 health benefits of fasting, backed by science. [Online]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fasting-benefits. [Accessed 06 Jan 2020]
- Harvard Health Publishing. 2018. Intermittent fasting: surprising update. [Online]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156. [Accessed 06 Jan 2020]
- American Osteopathic Association. 2019. Intermittent fasting: can we fast our way to better health? [Online]. Available from: https://thedo.osteopathic.org/2019/01/intermittent-fasting-can-we-fast-our-way-to-better-health/. [Accessed 06 Jan 2020]
- British Institute of Osteopathy. 2020. What are the effects of fasting? [Online]. Available from: http://www.british-institute-of-osteopathy.org/articles/fasting.aspx. [Accessed 06 Jan 2020]
The Importance of Movement
arent or sibling), then we start to get rudimentary use of our upper limbs, then we learn to lift our head and role onto our stomach, and now we can use our arms to push ourselves up and our neck muscles to support our head. Then we start to get stability in our trunk muscles so that we can sit and start to reach out, and then we are crawling, toddling and eventually running.
In other words we go through a sequence of learning where we move with increasing complexity, from simple reflexes to the ability to stabilise ourselves against gravity and then the ability to perform complex volitional activity such as eating or running.
This means that if we need to restore movement, say after an injury or an illness, we need to think in terms of this hierarchy, reflexes - stability - complex movement.
Humans are unique in that we have a complex postural system that enables us to stand upright on two unstable pins, that's why it takes us three years to learn to walk efficiently. But it is under constant stress and it's ability to perform this task starts to deteriorate as we age unless we take steps to keep it in top condition.
In research published in Queensland: Falling is not just for older women: support for pre-emptive prevention intervention before 60 (J.C Nitz and N.L Low Choy 2008), the researchers assessed women between the ages of 40 and 80 for the risk of falling. 8% of women in their forties, 14% in their 50s, 25% in their 60s and 40% in their 70s had fallen in the previous 12 months. In addition, the risk of falling increased significantly if the woman had other health problems.
Their conclusions was that for women over 40 years old, the number of illnesses increase the risk of falling and the risks increased still further if they were over 60. Preventative program participation aimed at maintaining good health appears vital to prevent falls.
To put it another way, our stability starts to drop in our 40's. Falls are a natural consequence of reduced stability but they are not the only consequence. The early consequences are less efficient use of posture which leads to stiffness and back pain.
So, in order to perform any meaningful activity, we must first be stable. Stability is really the ability to maintain balance while we shift our weight. When it starts to drop it means that we have less ability to generate momentum to move forwards. And if we are unable to generate as much momentum, then our step gets shorter, and if our step gets really short we require a stick to help support ourselves. Thus our ability to move becomes compromised.
So as we get older we get stiffer and less stable, which leads to weight bearing changes. It also leads to restriction in movement. It's important therefore to not only keep mobile but also work on keeping yourself stable. Exercise that can help this includes dance, yoga and Tai Chi. It is also important to work on your posture. Posture is basically how well you control your relationship to the ground and how efficiently you are able to shift your weight in order to generate momentum.
Perfect Posture Program
If you want to lean more about posture and how to keep yourself mobile and pain free, then we have an educational program that maybe for you. Our Perfect Posture Program has been developed from 25 years of rehabilitation of chronic back pain, and 10 years of measuring balance and analysing posture with computerised posturography. The purpose of the program is to teach you how your postural system works, so that you can use it in any situation, whether you are standing at a meeting, sitting at your desk or putting your child in the back of the car. This six week program is suitable for anyone who wishes to improve their posture from children aged eight and above, right through to seniors.
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