Fasting has long been associated with various religious practices in addition to being utilized in various detoxification programs and certain diets. However, several recent studies also indicate that regularly fasting can improve both your health and reduce your risk of heart disease.

The Effects of Fasting

When you fast, the body becomes distressed. A short fast (less than 24 hours) produces a short-term stress. When the body is stressed in this manner, it mobilizes itself to deal with the stress. We often hear about the negative effects of the ‘fight-or-flight response’, but often those negative effects occur only after prolonged periods of stress; that isn’t the type of stress happening with these short fasts.

When you withhold food from the body and consume only water for a short period of time, your body must release more fats to use as fuel. This will have the effect of increasing cholesterol in the bloodstream; it also decreases the amount of fat in storage. The less body fat you have, the less inflammation you create and the less likely you are to suffer from insulin resistance or develop diabetes.

In addition, research shows that fasting can dramatically increase the production and release of human growth hormone (HGH). HGH works to protect and restore muscle tissue, improving metabolism and stimulating the healing process. During a 24-hour fast, research has shown that HGH increases an average of 1300% in women and nearly 2000% in men. This is a remarkable improvement that can have a significant positive effect on a person’s health over time.

Recently, research cardiologists at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute found that periodic fasting can reduce triglycerides, body weight and blood sugar levels and can significantly decrease a person’s risk of developing coronary artery disease and diabetes. This is incredible news as periodic fasting is something most people can undertake with little to no cost.

Periodic Fasting Plan

While it has been shown that periodic fasting can have these positive effects, no studies have been conducted to determine the optimal fasting schedule a person should follow. As with most guidelines, each person much find the optimal schedule that works for them. Research suggest that fasting from one-day per week to one-day per month can both be helpful. Its seems prudent to start with a one-day water-only fast one-day per month to start to gauge how each person’s body will respond to the fast. If symptoms are minimal, increasing the frequency up to a maximum of one-day per week may be justified.