Fasting! Brings to mind images of brutal celebrity diets and long days of lusting for a microscopic nibble on a celery stick.
However new studies are showing more and more that intermittent fasting can be incredibly beneficial to the human body, when moderated and executed with the correct amount of respect and control.
Acute inflammation is what disrupts your immune system and leaves you open to disease, recent studies have shown that intermittent fasting can significantly reduce the levels of inflammatory markers in the body and therefore leave us feeling an overall increase in our health and wellbeing.
Lots of people are reporting feeling a greater level of mental clarity after a fast, and this is now backed up by new evidence suggesting that fasting could potentially help to protect against degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's which are caused primarily by inflammation around the brain. Although these studies are currently limited to animal research, the evidence concluded is quite strong in theorising that intermittent fasting can help increase the generation of nerve cells within the brain to help with cognitive function, giving you a stronger sense of mental clarity and resilience.
Fasting has also been linked to helping with weight-loss, boosting our metabolisms and delaying the ageing process. Studies have shown a 16-hour fast (18:00 - 10:00) can be extremely efficient in giving our bodies the time to alkaline, digest completely and start to eat into the fatty deposits we keep stored for emergencies. Carrying extra weight around the belly and lower back can be harmful to our internal organs and so intermittent fasting can be a fantastic method of remaining fighting fit and healthy.
1. Get started with a 12-hour fast (20:00 - 08:00) intermittently during the week.
2. Move up to a 16-hour fast (18:00 - 10:00) after you feel comfortable with 12 hours.
3. Regulate on a 20-hour fast (18:00 - 14:00) intermittently during the week, to maintain the good work your body is doing. You will begin to feel and see real improvements in the mind, body and spirit on 20 hours. Take it easy and don't push it too fast!
4. If you're happy and comfortable, go for the 24 hour or 48 hour fast.
Don't push for it too soon and remember to consult your doctor before you start any dietary changes. Remember to drink plenty of water, as this will help with the detoxification process.
If you have suffered with restriction-based eating disorders in the past or present, then fasting methods will be unlikely to suit you and your wellbeing.
The truth is, what works really well for one person may not work at all for another. We're all different and you have to be prepared to listen to your body intently to figure out what is best for you. Be happy and healthy before anything else!