Dr. Art Mollen: The health benefits of fasting
When the body is fasting, it is in a shutdown mode, causing cells to die and stem cells to regenerate the lost cells with more functional cells
If you have ever tried fasting for more than 12 hours, you know it is not so easy. Fasting for religious reasons for 24 hours probably had you counting the minutes before you could eat.
Besides a religious commitment and homage to your beliefs, there are health benefits.
When the body is fasting, it is in a shutdown mode, causing cells to die and stem cells to regenerate the lost cells with more functional cells.
In fact, studies have suggested that occasional fasting can actually extend your lifespan.
However, fasting does not necessarily detoxify your body. The liver and kidneys are actually quite efficient at accomplishing that and well-designed to eliminate toxins.
Jump starting metabolism
Occasional fasting can, however, jump start your metabolism.
So if you are looking for a way to increase your energy and combat fatigue an occasional fast can be beneficial.
I prefer a vegetable juice fast or simply water fast for 24 hours. I believe it’s important to keep your body well hydrated.
Most people prefer a juice fast over water, which allows them to tolerate fasting and starving. This not only improves metabolism, but may rid you of a few extra pounds.
Low sodium vegetable juices may be better than fruit juices, since they are lower in calories and sugar. In fact, an average 8-ounce glass of kale or cucumber juices are only 70 calories, as opposed to 8 ounces of orange juice which is about 112 calories.
Getting more fiber
Personally, I am not juicer. I prefer the whole vegetable or fruit, because fiber is the cornerstone of your diet. More fiber is provided by eating the whole vegetable or fruit, which decreases the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and colon cancer.
Most Americans consume only 15 grams of fiber, far less fiber than they should, which ought to be closer to 35 grams.
So if you attempt fasting once a week simply consume at least eight glasses or 64 ounces of water a day. As your body gets accustomed to fasting it will get easier and increase your energy.
Occasional fasting can be beneficial for some people. Consult with your doctor first.
Dr. Art Mollen is an osteopathic family physician and a health, fitness and preventive medicine expert. Reach him at 480-656-0016 or email@example.com.