An age old religious practice of fasting, observed often for the purpose of spiritual purification, has been scientifically proven to be a boon to our physical, psychological and mental health.
It is a wonder drug that works as a panacea for numerous health problems from obesity, cardiac diseases, hypertension, aging, and cancer to mental diseases of cervical spinal injury, strokes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and the like.
Fasting arrives with an accelerated rate of action of neurogenerative and neuroprotective protein named BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor).
Now what is the function of this protein that I have highlighted here?
It interacts with parts of brain that regulate memory, learning, cognitive functions as well as aids in neurogenesis and neurotransmission at synaptic nodes. When you fast, you trigger higher level of functionality of this protein in your body. It has been proved effective for our neurological health. In case of Alzheimer’s patients, an increased production of BDNF as a result of fasting makes them show high level of cognitive skills. Anti-depressants boost production of BDNF in body while fasting cures depression through similar yet natural and amazing method. Along with this it speeds up cardiovascular functioning which curbs heart diseases and makes the central station of heart healthy and proper.
Fasting is proved to be an elixir of life i.e. longevity of life span. Consumption of fattening products which may leave toxic end products in body and low metabolic rate of digestive system cause body to age faster. Experiments and experiences have shown that those who fast often are more likely to live longer.
Here is the reason why so?
Fasting activates the internal cleansing process of autophagy i.e. “self-eating” which results in destruction or removal of toxins, cancerous cells and waste products.
Digestion is the most energy consuming process of our body and that can be a reason of aging faster as all the energy is taken up in this leaving the body lethargic and out of energy. After a fast, metabolic rate of digestive system is improved for example as after a night of fasting, we wake up with a better functioning rate of our digestive system.
While fasting, after metabolizing all the blood sugar for energy, which takes 2-3 days, the breaking down of fatty cells for energy i.e. ketosis initiates, which boosts up energy and helps in weight-loss. Fasting also improves insulin sensitivity that in turn helps with regulating blood cholesterol level. Energy boost improves brain activity as well as awareness of mind.
Fasting assists in improving and accelerating immune functions of body which in turn helps in skin detoxification and fighting acne as well as other injuries. Regenerative functions are focused upon by body with the energy saved by body. In case of a stroke, decreased inflammatory cytokines are released thereby protecting us from brain damage.
Other then these, it helps in regulation of eating patterns for people who are suffering from binge eating disorders. Because the more you feed it, the more it will ask for. People tend to lose track of what, how much and when they eat in their busy lives which causes health issues. Fasting remedies it as well and creates an order in eating patterns. It creates awareness of what is true hunger as well as differentiates for you between your need and want of food. Thus it keeps you from eating in excess and to crave less for food. With this you learn to control your mind against adversity and prepare you to be content with less.
Plutarch has rightly recommended this ancient therapy as he once said,
“Instead of using medicine, rather fast a day”