Fasting is a dieting technique that has been used for many centuries. Often used as a quick way to drop weight fast, fasting can also bring other benefits to your health.
Water fasting is one of the more intense or extreme types of fasting. This entails that you consume no food, and no other drink aside from water. Though you can see instant weight loss results as well as a few other health benefits, there are possible side effects and some harsher than others.
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When done correctly, water fasting can be beneficial for your health and get you the health results you’re seeking, but overdoing it just by a little bit can cause certain risks and dangers you must be wary of.
The Benefits of Water Fasting
Water fasting does bring some potential benefits and is the main reason why people will try to adopt this gruelling diet method. Some of the benefits of a successful water fast include:
1. Triggers Autophagy
This is the process of when the old parts of your cells are broken down and recycled. Studies have shown that autophagy can help to protect the body against cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
Damaged parts of your cells can compile together and promote the risk of cancer and heart disease. Autophagy ensures that it never reaches those alarming stages.
2. May Help Lower Blood Pressure
Multiple studies have shown that medically supervised water fasts can help to lower blood pressure in people who have high blood pressure. One study that from 82% of 68 people with borderline high blood pressure were able to drop blood pressure to healthy levels after 14 days of medically supervised water fasting.
3. May Improve Insulin and Leptin Sensitivity
Insulin and leptins are hormones that play a large effect on the body’s metabolism. When these hormones are sensitive, they become more effective. Research has shown that water fasting can make the body more sensitive to leptin and insulin.
As a result, insulin sensitivity can lead to lower blood sugar levels, and leptin sensitivity can help the body suppress hunger signals, lowering your risk of weight gain from excess eating.
4. May Lower The Risk of Several Chronic Diseases
Along with the benefits of some of the above points, water fasting can, in turn, lower the risk of chronic diseases developing in your health. Cancer, heart disease, and diabetes can be at lower risks as water fasting helps to drop blood pressure, blood sugar, and protect the heart from damaged cells. Studies have also shown that water fasting can stop free radicals from causing damage to cells in the body.
The Risks of Water Fasting
Although the above benefits of water fasting may sound enticing, it is important to know that there are many risks and dangers associated with this intense method of dieting. Some of the main risks of water fasting include:
1. Loss of Muscle Mass
You will lose weight quickly due to not getting any calories that you normally would from good. Although this might sound fine and good in theory, a lot of the weight you lose is also from muscle mass, which can be quite hard to put back on once gone. You may also lose a lot of water weight which can leave you dehydrated, which brings us to the next point.
Although you might be drinking lots of water during your water fast, it is possible to become still dehydrated as 20-30% of your daily water intake will come from food.
Unless you’re drinking more water than usual, you will end up becoming dehydrated. On top of starvation, dehydration during water fasts can leave you feeling nauseous, feverish and constipated.
3. Aggregate or Worsen Existing Health Conditions
Although depending on the duration of your water fast, it is known to trigger and worsen existing health conditions for people who suffer from them.
Water fasting is known to aggregate and worsens conditions such as diabetes, eating disorders, and gout. If you have an existing health concern, avoid extreme fasts such as this one or speak with your doctor before trying.
How to Water Fast Safely
There is no exact or correct way to water fast. There is no scientific method behind a successful one. Water fasting depends on your objectives, as well as your current health condition. Water fasts can last from 24 to 72 hours. Follow these tips below to ensure a safe fasting process.
The best way to start is to prepare your body to go without food from the days leading up to the fast. Be sure to eat smaller portions and to get your stomach to adapt to less food consumption.
Be sure to drink plenty of water and more than usual during the fast. You are far more likely to become dehydrated during a water fast.
If this is your first time doing a water fast, you must speak with your doctor, especially if you have an existing health condition. Even if you are experienced with many other types of diets, water fasting can be very intense and gruelling while posing many potential dangers, speaking with your doctor can make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful fast.
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