Updated: Jan 7
The healing power of fasting
There are a number of reasons individuals fast, such as spiritual or religious, but the main reason, for many, is health. Fasting can be used as a treatment for metabolic disorders and as a preventive tool for metabolic health, gut health, brain health, hormone health and overall cellular health.
Our biological history
As we have evolved, the genes that regulate metabolism for nutrient usage and fat storage have remained relatively the same, but our food environment and lifestyles have changed significantly.
During our hunter-gatherer days, we went without food for extended periods of time, we had no choice, and our bodies adapted.
Today we can source and eat whatever food we want - all day and all night. The type of eating patterns we see today, alongside our genetic makeup, has created an imbalance, playing a role in the progression of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Some forms of daily fastings, such as time-restricted eating, can help to prevent these outcomes, and longer fasts are reported to potentially reverse some of these diseases.
There is a huge amount of research on fasting these days due to the multiple health benefits different fasts can generate.
Fasting triggers pre-existing information that is encoded in our genes.
“Fasting activates coordinated responses that are in tune with evolution and is one of the most powerful interventions we can rediscover to promote coordinated changes that do not disrupt the harmony of the human body” (Dr Valter Longo).
How it works
Our bodies are designed to have metabolic flexibility, smoothly transitioning between two different states: fed and fasting.
In the fed state, in response to a rise in blood glucose, insulin is released to ensure blood glucose is kept within safe ranges. It helps to transport it into our cells, where it is used as an immediate energy source.