8 Amazing benefits of prolonged fasting for health and longevity

The goal of fasting is mindful eating. As you follow the concept of prolonged fasting, you will learn how to allot specific time periods for eating and some for fasting to allow your body to gain nutrients and burn calories simultaneously. Fasting for weight loss is quite popular, but it can also be good for several other reasons.

Before we cover the benefits of fasting, it is important to note that just because prolonged fasting means skipping meals for a fixed period, it doesn’t necessarily mean neglecting food or liquids entirely, which may harm your health.

Intermittent fasting benefits you the most when you select eating schedules that work for your body clock and consistently stick to them for five days, a month, or whatever timeframe suits you best. Surprisingly, prolonged fasting brings more good than hurt with its eight amazing benefits.

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What are the benefits of prolonged fasting?

Mindful eating is the goal of fasting. As you follow the concept of fasting, you will learn to allot specific periods for eating and fasting to allow your body to gain nutrients and burn calories simultaneously [1].

Fasting is quite popular in the weight loss corner, not only for its effective weight management but also for its wide range of health benefits. 

You may be wondering if prolonged fasting harms your health as, technically, you are skipping meals, but it is more than that. Fasting is all about selecting eating schedules that work for your body clock and sticking to them for weeks or months.

The concept is not skipping meals but picking the right time to eat. Surprisingly, prolonged fasting has eight amazing benefits, which make it more beneficial than harmful.

1. Promotes weight loss and body composition

Long-term fasting promotes weight loss and helps to maintain a balanced body composition. When you fast for extended periods, your body utilizes fat stores for energy once its glucose reserves are depleted. Here’s how this process unfolds:

  • The switch to burning fat for energy leads to a significant reduction in body fat levels.
  • Unlike many diets that cause muscle loss, prolonged fasting helps retain muscle, as it increases growth hormone levels, which are crucial for muscle health.
  • It reduces insulin levels and increases norepinephrine, both of which help break down fat and boost metabolic rate.

This method not only helps in shedding excess weight but also in sculpting a leaner, healthier physique.

2. Lower your blood pressure

Lowering your blood pressure is among the remarkable benefits of prolonged fasting for health and longevity. Here’s how fasting actively contributes to this important aspect of cardiovascular wellness:

  • Prolonged fasting has significantly decreased blood pressure levels, which is crucial for reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke [2].
  • Fasting promotes better blood flow and vascular function by reducing inflammation and improving endothelial function in the lining of blood vessels.
  • Prolonged fasting helps mitigate the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure and improving vascular health. Thus, it ultimately supports a healthier heart and longevity.

Incorporating prolonged fasting into your lifestyle could be a proactive step towards better cardiovascular health, offering long-term benefits for your overall well-being.

lowers your blood pressure

3. Reduce insulin resistance in diabetes

As mentioned earlier, prolonged fasting can help stabilize blood sugar levels, which can also benefit people with diabetes. Though this claim needs more research, health experts are investigating the ability of fasting to reset insulin in the body. 

Fasting is an eating pattern that suggests restricting calories daily, which can improve insulin resistance, a marker of type 2 diabetes.

Insulin is the body’s storage hormone for carbohydrates, proteins and fats. When you fast for 24 hours or more, your glycogen, a storage form of carbs, can be depleted, resulting in reduced insulin levels. Fasting allows you to burn fat for energy. 

Many studies in the medical field note the wonderful effects of fasting for people with diabetes. One of them is a study in 2017 that involved ten people who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that fasting for 12 to 72 hours can lower blood sugar by up to 20 percent after only fasting once. The findings are important for people suffering from diabetes. 

4. Reduces inflammation and enhances immunity

In addition to increasing immunity, prolonged fasting is a potent weapon in your body’s arsenal against inflammation. Here’s how fasting actively supports these essential functions:

  • Fasting lowers levels of inflammatory markers in the body, which are linked to chronic diseases like arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes [3].
  • During fasting, autophagy is activated, allowing cells to repair and rejuvenate, reducing inflammation and enhancing overall cellular health.
  • Fasting helps regulate the immune system by promoting a balanced response, preventing overactivity that can lead to autoimmune conditions and chronic inflammation.

By incorporating prolonged fasting into your routine, you’re giving your body a break from continuous digestion and the opportunity to heal and strengthen itself from within, ultimately supporting a healthier, more resilient immune system.

5. Lower cholesterol levels

Lowering cholesterol levels is one of the remarkable benefits of prolonged fasting for health and longevity. Here’s how fasting actively contributes to this essential aspect of cardiovascular wellness:

  • Reduction in LDL cholesterol: Prolonged fasting has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol levels, often referred to as the “bad” cholesterol, a major risk factor for heart disease.
  • Increase in HDL cholesterol: Fasting can also lead to an increase in HDL cholesterol. This “good” cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream and reduces the risk of arterial plaque buildup.
  • Improvement in lipid profile: Fasting improves lipid profiles by favorably altering the balance between different types of cholesterol, promoting better heart health and longevity.

By incorporating prolonged fasting into your lifestyle, you’re not just giving your body a break from continuous digestion but also allowing it to optimize its cholesterol levels and support a healthier cardiovascular system.

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6. Lower risk of chronic diseases

Prolonged fasting plays a significant role in preventing and managing chronic diseases, including those affecting long-term health. Here’s how fasting supports your body in this regard:

  • Fasting triggers autophagy, which helps remove damaged cells and stimulates the production of new, healthy ones. This strengthens the immune system’s ability to fight off chronic diseases.
  • Fasting addresses key risk factors associated with chronic diseases by promoting weight loss, improving metabolic health, and reducing inflammation.
  • Some studies suggest that fasting may enhance the effectiveness of certain treatments for chronic diseases by making cells more sensitive to treatment or by reducing treatment-related side effects.

Incorporating prolonged fasting into your lifestyle could be a valuable strategy for preventing and managing chronic diseases, contributing to overall health and longevity.

7. Supports cardiovascular health

An important benefit of prolonged fasting is improved heart health, which is sometimes disregarded until issues emerge. Here’s how fasting works to bolster cardiovascular wellness:

  • Regular fasting periods can decrease blood pressure, reducing strain on the heart and vascular system.
  • It helps lower levels of harmful LDL cholesterol while boosting beneficial HDL, fostering better blood flow and reducing plaque buildup [4].
  • Chronic inflammation is linked to heart disease. Fasting decreases inflammation, providing a protective shield for your heart.

Adopting prolonged fasting can be a proactive step towards enhancing heart health, potentially warding off future cardiac issues. 

For those seeking to maintain or improve cardiovascular health, integrating fasting into your lifestyle could be a strategic move. Always consult a healthcare professional to tailor the approach to your needs and conditions.

8. May extend lifespan and improve aging

In addition to helping people live longer, prolonged fasting may also help people age more gracefully. Research suggests that fasting can significantly impact longevity and the aging process through several key mechanisms:

  • Fasting stimulates genes known for their role in extending lifespan and combating the effects of aging.
  • It decreases the accumulation of oxidative stress, contributing to aging and chronic diseases.
  • Hormones like human growth hormone, which are vital for regeneration and repair, see increased levels during fasting [5].

These changes contribute to a slower aging process and reduced risk of age-related diseases. 

Slows cell aging and contributes to longevity
Photograph: Drazen Zigic/freepik

Fasting isn’t just about skipping meals; it’s about giving your body a break to repair itself and perform optimally for longer. If longevity is your goal, integrating prolonged fasting into your routine might be worth considering. 

Closing thoughts

The ancient practice of prolonged fasting holds immense potential for enhancing overall well-being. As you consider integrating prolonged fasting into your lifestyle, consider these points and approach it with mindfulness and respect for your body’s needs. 

Whether you’re seeking to lose weight, improve metabolic health, or enhance longevity, incorporating fasting strategically and responsibly can be a valuable tool in your health toolkit. Take the first step towards improved health and longevity.

FAQs

Is prolonged fasting healthy?

Yes, prolonged fasting can be healthy for many individuals when done correctly and under appropriate supervision. It has been associated with various health benefits, including improved metabolic health, reduced inflammation, and enhanced cellular repair processes.

Does fasting improve longevity?

Research suggests that fasting may indeed have potential benefits for longevity. By promoting cellular repair, reducing oxidative stress, and enhancing metabolic efficiency, fasting could contribute to a longer, healthier lifespan.

What are the benefits of prolonged fasting?

The benefits of prolonged fasting are numerous and diverse, ranging from weight loss and improved metabolic health to enhanced cognitive function and reduced risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Can I exercise while fasting?

Light to moderate exercise is generally safe during fasting periods and may even enhance the benefits of fasting. However, intense or prolonged exercise may be challenging during extended fasts and should be approached cautiously.

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[1] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mindful-eating-guide
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8092432/
[3] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fasting-benefits
[4] https://www.healthline.com/health/hdl-vs-ldl-cholesterol
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482141/

Photograph: pvproductions/Freepik
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