The benefits of fasting are as old as history. It is controversial to many experts who see it as unhealthy and unnecessary. Others feel it is essential for body cleansing.
Let’s look at the positives of a fast diet, and the downside of the most common type, the juice fast, while maintaining nutrient density.
What is a fast?
Plainly stated it is an extended period of time within which an individual does not consume solid food, but does consume a minimal amount of liquids to maintain nutrient density, as in a juice fast. There are many reasons that people engage in this practice.
Should you Fast?
Should you Fast?
This is a good question, and ultimately, I think the best answer is yes, but under the right conditions, such as a juice fast. Done properly the benefits of fasting are significant, but the practice can also cause problems depending on your state of health and individual medical history.
To fast for an extended period of time, (more than 24 hours) causes your metabolism to slow as the body tries to conserve calories. Your body essentially goes into survival mode and that is ok for a very short period of time. This is why nutrient density, which I will explain below, is so important during a fast!
If you are trying to lost weight, an extended fast is not a good idea. As your metabolism slows, it becomes much harder to lose weight (if that is your goal), and you are depriving your body of needed nutrients and calories, and you will not get the benefits of the fast. However the juice fast is an effective option that I will cover on this page.
Fasting should ideally be done under the guidance of a certified nutritionist or other health professional. While it has value, it MUST be done correctly to avoid harm and maximize results.
Insulin Sensitivity and Cell Signaling
The key to understanding the benefits of fasting involves two things. One is insulin sensitivity, and the other is cell signaling. Insulin sensitivity is a measure of how strongly your body reacts to insulin. More sensitivity equals better blood sugar control and ultimately a longer healthier life.
Cell signaling is really about how effectively your cells communicate with one another, and more specifically how efficiently your endocrine system is functioning to maintain your hormonal balance. The better that balance is maintained, the better your health!
Think of good cell signaling like a strong clear electric or radio signal. Now think of rapid and frequent rises in insulin levels as static! You want to prevent the “static” so that your hormonal system can communicate with nice strong, clear signals.
Eating and digesting food, especially higher glycemic carbohydrates causes various signaling mechanisms in the body to be triggered. Constant feeding means your body is constantly reacting to various foods, and the signaling mechanisms are overused, resulting in a loss of clarity in this cell signaling process.
The benefits of a fast diet are in preventing the “static” that interferes with cellular communications when you eat! If the fast goes on too long, it can cause other problems like muscle wasting and slower metabolism, but this can be prevented when you only fast for a relatively short time (a few hours to several days).
These improvements extend to your immune system as well, which helps protects you from disease, cancer and cardiovascular disease. A strong immune system together with a well-balanced hormonal profile is a powerful combination for promoting longevity.
A fast of a few hours (up to 16 ) may not require intake of supplemental nutrients or calories. This can be done almost daily as in Ori Hofmekler’s Warrior Diet.
Cleansing fasts that last longer, such as several days, require supplemental nutrients and caloric intake, and should only be done several times a year at most.
The Juice Fast and Nutrient Density
Because you are not consuming solid foods when you fast, you must maintain an adequate intake of nutrients that the body needs to cleanse, and nourish your tissues. One of the best ways is to use nutritious vegetable juices to supply these nutrients, as well as fluid and some caloric input. The benefits of fasting are maximized in this way.
This concept is called nutrient density, and what this really means is that the food or juice that you are consuming has a very high degree of beneficial nutrients relative to its volume and calorie content.
To maximize the benefits of fasting, the juice fast should consist primarily of low glycemic vegetable juices, which will not raise your insulin levels significantly, and allow your body to cleanse and renew itself, while still taking in vital nutrients to support this process. Examples are:
In addition to this you might want to add one small piece of low glycemic fruit to improve the taste such as:
There are many good books available on the benefits of fasting and how to use the juice fast properly.
It can be very beneficial if done right, but please make sure to get the proper information on this procedure before you start.
To Get the Benefits of a Fast
The benefits of fasting can be a very useful and effective strategy to promote longevity and help your antiaging efforts. Used properly, a fast diet will do positive things for body cleansing and your health and well being.
Return from Benefits of Fasting to Antiaging Food