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Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy?

by Ryan Peters
wooden spoon and fork as clock hands on plate for intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is when an individual does not eat for 16 hours to a whole day. Other than weight loss, there are many people who claim other benefits of this trendy diet. One of the many health claims for intermittent fasting includes boosting your immune system, but the question is, does this really happen? Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular forms of dieting right now. There have been studies that show that intermittent fasting can help to get rid of old blood cells and generate new ones faster, but how much truth is there to this claim? Intermittent fasting can help you to lose weight, but how healthy is it for you?

The Studies

There is not a ton of research on intermittent fasting and how good it is for you, so you will need to be weary and take these claims with a grain of salt. Most of the claims that you hear about intermittent fasting comes from one study. In 2014, a study done by USC, had both animal and human patients. Both categories of patients were cancer patients. They were asked to fast for four days. One of the benefits that was found through this study is the replacement of old cells with new cells. This means that once the fasting was over, their bodies, both animal and human, were filled with new blood cells that boosted their immune systems.

alarm clock on plate with fasting note for intermittent fastingThese results suggested that long periods of fasting, like four days, could help those who were in chemotherapy. This version of fasting could potentially reduce the harsher side effects that come from chemotherapy. This lead to the conclusion that it also may be beneficial for the immune systems of healthy people.

Another study, done in 2015, showed that fasting and a healthy diet helped with the health of the individual’s immune systems. This combination helps to limit the production of proteins that lead to inflammatory issues. This is a protein that can help to cause diabetes and atherosclerosis specifically. Similarly to the previous study, this study also used animal and human patients.

So, Does Fasting Make You Healthier?

Although these studies sound very promising, they do not reflect a larger group of people. Both of these studies were done on a small group of people and animals. Plus, all of these participants were cancer patients, which does not mean that this directly reflects the rest of the population. Also, most fasting diets recommend only fasting for 16 to 24 hours. This is much less time than the four day period that was studied here. This suggests that there may not be any long term effects from fasting.

Basically, your body will not start to replace blood cells until after a few days of fasting. It will take your body even longer to break down muscle, immune cells and other different tissues. This means that your chances of getting real health benefits from fasting are slim to none. Studies will also have to be done on a wider range of participants if we want to see real results. Before there can be any health benefits confirmed from fasting, there will need to be a lot more research done.

Is Fasting Safe?

The healthier you are, the more likely that fasting will not cause any ill effects for you. Keep in mind that the fasting that I mean is the regular 16 hours to full day fasting, not a full four days. Basically, it is like being on a low-carb diet.

There are a few situations where fasting can be dangerous for an individual. If you are an avid gym goer, it is suggested that while fasting, you skip the gym that day. Not having any food in you can cause you to pass out and get unwanted injury. Fasting also lowers the amount of sodium and potassium in your body. These are essential to healthy exercising. They help your heart, kidneys, and muscle function. You can also experience weakness, muscle cramps, and nausea if you try to exercise on a fasting day. If you have a compromised immune system, you should skip fasting all together. Your body needs the nutrients from food to try to stay healthy. If you 5:2 fasting diet can be donehave impaired kidney function or liver function, you should also skip fasting.

It is recommended that you do not fast for more than 12 hours. There are plans out there that can help you to fast, without losing too many nutrients that your body needs. There are plans out there that provide meals that will trick your body into thinking that it is fasting, by eating soups, crackers, and the likes. These diets claim that your body can still reap the benefits of fasting without completely stopping eating. These diets and meal plans are not regulated in any way, so be weary before you choose to try them.

What Should I do?

The best way to have a healthy lifestyle is to have a balanced diet along with exercise. You should not have to stop eating or even buy a crazy meal plan that will mimic fasting to be healthy. When it comes to diets that are telling you to stop eating, you need to think twice before trying it. Yes, you may lose weight while fasting, but you will lose vital nutrients that your body needs to survive, and can potentially harm yourself during fasting if it is not done right. Remember, it is much better to be healthy, than to lose a lot of weight and end up hospitalized.

Talk to your doctor before you start any new diet plan. If you are still thinking about trying intermittent fasting, get tested to make sure that you do not have conditions that may be affected negatively by fasting. It is important to stay healthy and fasting is not the best way to stay healthy and lose weight. Although there is still plenty of research to be done, make sure that you are in contact with your doctor if you begin a fasting diet.

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