By T.M. Hartle for Natural News on 29 Apr 2011
(NaturalNews) Fasting has been a popular practice among health conscious individuals for centuries. In general, doctors have discouraged the practice of fasting deeming it a dangerous fad among ignorant health seekers. Recent research has proven that regular fasting is not merely a fad, but a health promoting practice. Research conducted at Intermountain Medical Center’s Heart Institute identified several health benefits offered through periodic fasting.
Fasting has been a popular practice among health conscious individuals for centuries. In general, doctors have discouraged the practice of fasting deeming it a dangerous fad among ignorant health seekers. Recent research has proven that regular fasting is not merely a fad, but a health promoting practice. Research conducted at Intermountain Medical Center’s Heart Institute identified several health benefits offered through periodic fasting.
Dr. Benjamin Horne stated that ‘fasting is not just an indicator for a healthy lifestyle, it is actually the fasting that reduces the risk of disease.’ During fasting, the body utilizes fat as a source of fuel instead of glucose. This results in a decrease in fat cells within the body reducing the risks for high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and diabetes according to Dr. Horne. The benefits in the study were seen by merely skipping at least two meals on a regular basis.
Researchers conducted the study on over 200 individuals consisting of patients from the medical center and healthy volunteers. One group eliminated both food and drink for 24 hours while the other group performed a water-only fast. Participants were monitored for the duration of the study to evaluate cardiac risk factors, markers of metabolic risk, and general health assessments. Fasting improved blood glucose levels, reduced body fat, and lowered triglycerides after the fast was completed. Many of the participants were regular fasters, so researchers set out to isolate the benefits of fasting with a follow-up study.
Researchers conducted a second study to ensure the results were not merely the result of a healthier lifestyle among fasters. They selected a group of individuals who did not engage in regular fasting. The participants were evaluated for general health markers and then put on a 24 hour water fast. X-ray scans revealed narrowing of the arteries in around 75 percent of those who didn’t fast. In contrast, clogged arteries only affected 63 percent of those in the earlier study who engaged in regular fasting. Researchers began to uncover the health benefits of regular fasting.
Planned, periodic fasting increases human growth hormone that regulates glucose and insulin in the body. Human growth hormone increases the metabolism and burning of fat stores. The increased HGH levels seen during fasting can reduce insulin resistance and diabetes risk. In the study, regular periodic fasting reduced the risk of diabetes in half.
Dr. Horne stated that fasting could prevent the onset of diabetes for those who are at risk and it can improve general overall health. Patients were evaluated in the coronary artery study from 1994 to 2002 and it was found that those who participated in periodic fasting had lower risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes risk. Several doctors with Intermountain Medical Center’s Heart Institute are presenting their recent discovery on the physiological benefits from fasting at the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans. Regular, periodic fasting of merely two meals per month can offer significant health benefits and should become a regular part of a health promoting lifestyle.
About the author: T.M. Hartle has a Bachelors degree in Natural Health Science with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition as well as a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University. She is a student midwife who teaches pregnancy nutrition courses to midwives and childbirth educators throughout the country. She has a certificate in the Essentials of raw culinary arts from Living Light Culinary Arts Institute and is the Owner and Chef of The Peaceful Kitchen.