Fasting has been a human tradition for thousands of years. Whether for religious, political, or perceived health benefits, people all over the world still practice some sort of abstinence from food for a 24 hour period of time. In some forms of fasting, liquids are not allowed either.
Humans can survive for weeks fasting while drinking water. Without water, a person will die within a few days.
In an interesting in Medical News Today, researchers have found that people with prediabetes who practice intermittent fasting have a better chance of averting diabetes as well as heart disease. This is interesting as over 86 millions Americans have prediabetes.
How does fasting help?
People with prediabetes (and type 2 diabetes) suffer from insulin resistance. Unlike type 1 diabetes, the pancreas manufacturers insulin, but not enough to lower blood glucose levels. The body’s cells have become resistant to the glucose lowering effects of insulin. The more fat cells and bad cholesterol in the body, the higher the resistance. The pancreas goes into overload, trying to produce ever more insulin, but it does not help and may even damage the pancreas.
After 12 hours of fasting, our body runs out of fuel so it starts burning fat cells to generate the energy required to function. Researchers theorize that this burning of fat cells decreases insulin resistance. In any case, the observed success did not happen in a single 24 hour fasting (with water allowed). It happened over the course of 6 weeks, with several fasting days.
Will physicians start prescribing weekly fasting days to patients?