Thursday, June 1, 2017

15 Benefits of fasting

Fasting means abstinence from food and or water.  It might sound a little scary or even extreme to some people. Fear not, as many people fast for spiritual, mental and physical reasons. Athletes practice fasting as a means to improve their health both mentally, and physically since it can improve brain function and mental clarity. Multiple faiths also fast including fasting in their regimen including Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity.

Below are top 10 health benefits of fasting:

  • Lose weight and belly fat:
According to many studies, losing weight has shown to be possible and effective when fasting. Fasting allows the body to burn fat for energy when there is no sugar or food. Fasting can enhance hormone function to help with weight loss. Increased amounts of norepinephrine, lower insulin levels, and an increase of hormone levels all contribute the breakdown of body fat. Multiple athletes fast to lose body fat percentage efficiently. 

  • Improves brain function and mental clarity:
Fasting has shown to improve brain performance because it boosts a protein called BDNF( brain- derived neurotrophic factor). BNDF activates the brain stem cells to convert into new neurons and stimulates other chemicals that promote neural health. Studies have also shown that it can increase the growth of new nerve cells, which could have benefits of brain functions.

  • Improves insulin sensitivity/ lowering risk of type 2 diabetes:
Fasting has shown to have a positive effect on insulin resistance, enabling you to tolerate carbs better than normal. Fasting has been shown to have crucial benefits for insulin sensitivity and can lead to a reduction in blood sugar levels.

  • May help prevent cancer:
There is some evidence on cancer patients, showing that fasting reduces various side effects of chemotherapy. Despite the fact there are human studies needed to be done, promising evidence from animal studies shows that fasting may help prevent cancer.

  • May help you live longer:
Studies have shown how the lifespan of people in certain cultures increased due to their diets. Studies in rats have shown that fasting extends their lifespan. In some other studies, rats who have fasted lived 83% longer than rats who haven’t fasted.

  • May be beneficial for your cardio health: 
Heart disease is a worldwide killer. Fasting has shown to improve countless risk factors, such as blood pressure, LDL and total cholesterol, blood triglycerides and more.

  • Can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body:
Oxidative stress enhances aging and many chronic disease. Multiple studies show that fasting may enhance the body’s resistance to oxidative stress.

  • Improves blood fat levels:
In 1997 the Annals of Nutrition Metabolism demonstrated that fasting lowered bad cholesterol, LDL, by 8 percent, triglycerides by 30%, and increase good cholesterol, HDL, by 14%. Fasting may be the perfect time to reprogram your body to get to eating healthy.

  • Can help improve eating patterns:
With today’s food abundances, people have developed multiple eating disorders such as binge eating. Fasting all day and eating at a set time and allow yourself to eat appropriately.

  • Can curb hunger:
Fasting helps regulate the hormones in your body so that you understand what true hunger is. Fasting can be like a reset button- the longer you fast, the more your body can regulate itself and correct hormones. It will also help you get full quicker.

Here are five spiritual benefits to fasting:

  • A soul cleansing:
How often we forget that our bodies are the temple of the Lord—especially when deciding what to eat! Fasting is a great time to remember the spiritual connection we have to our physical bodies. Without the toxins we put in our bodies, we not only give our bodies a break from the digestive process, but we also allow our spirits to be detoxed.  Fasting is a faith-move, an expectation we have that God will fill us with His Holy Spirit, just as He promised. But as Christ told His disciples, “[N]o one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins." By fasting, we meditate cleanses the soul and makes it new so we can receive the Holy Spirit and become empowered to live for Christ in a new way.

  • A new desire for God:
When we acknowledge through fasting that we need God to live, and to live more abundantly, we can begin to desire God in a new way. When we realize we need God more than we need food, we can start to understand what the Psalmist meant when he wrote, “Like the deer that pants after water, my soul longs for You.” God, the sustainer of all life, wants nothing more than a closer connection with us, and through fasting we can quench that new desire for more of Him in our lives.

  •  A deeper praise:
Because the body does not have to do the work of digestion, it has more energy to focus on other things. In the same vein, since we are not consumed by what we are going to eat next and when, we have more energy to devote to God. While we’re experiencing a new desire for Him through fasting, we should also emit a deeper praise as we think about everything God is to us and all He has done. Once we get caught up in our desire for God and our praise for His mighty acts, we won’t have time to be hungry or count down the hours until our fast is over. We’ll be celebrating the whole time!

  •  A sensitivity to God’s voice:
The New Testament prophetess Anna is praised in the book of Luke for being a devoted servant to God and His temple. Because she regularly fasted and prayed, she was able to hear the voice of God speak clearly to her the day that Baby Jesus was brought into her temple to be dedicated. She knew He was the Christ and told everyone who would listen about His arrival. When we detox the spirit and become consumed with desire and praise for God, we become sensitive to His voice. Like Anna, when God speaks to us in the midst of chaos, we’ll still be able to pick out His voice and know what He wants us to do because we have trained our ear to hear Him through fasting, prayer, study and praise.

  • A new satisfaction:
When you finish your fast, renewed, full of energy, detoxed, with a new desire, a new praise and a sensitivity to God’s voice, you’ll find that the absence of food was small in comparison to what you gained. When Christ’s disciples noticed that He hadn’t eaten all day and tried to get Him to slow down to eat, Christ said, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about….My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.”

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