Fasting is definitely not new. It’s been an integral part of many religious beliefs for centuries, and fasting diets have been well known since the early 1900s. The Master Cleanse, created by Stanley Burrough, a self-taught alternative medicine practitioner was one of the most popular liquid diets.
It has only been recently that fasting has gained popularity for health or fitness reasons, fasting was (and still is) practiced today for religious or spiritual reasons.
People and companies who stand by a fasting diet often use a common argument of our paleolithic ancestors who survived for long periods of time without food, so we should also have the ability to do the same. However, people tend to forget that the times we’re living in now are vastly different and it’s not reasonable to compare the eating habits of now to then.
Today, the internet is filled with detox diets that claim to cleanse the body of toxins, promote weight loss, and improve health. There’s not much science behind most detox diets, it’s mostly just a fad.
When it comes to water fasting, there are several potential benefits, but remember that the science on water fasting in humans is limited. The potential dangers may outweigh the benefits.
What Is Water Fasting?
A water fast is just as the name says: It's a fast in which all food and drinks other than water are restricted. Meaning no coffee, no tea, no alcohol, no zero-calorie sports drinks, or any other drinks. And obviously; no food.
Water fasts generally last 24 to 72 hours. Medically supervised water fasts may last longer. Never try to fast for longer than three days without medical clearance and supervision.
Many popular cleanses find its inspiration from water fasting, like the lemon detox cleanse, a fast in which you drink a water-based concoction for a period of 40 days. Most people try doing a water fast or similar regimen for its supposed health benefits.
Benefits of water fasting
There is some evidence to suggest that water fasting has some potential health benefits and physiological effects.
1. It may improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels. The effect of water fasting on blood pressure may be not significant and there is a requirement of further studies to elaborate on this relation.
2. It may promote autophagy, a process in which the old parts of the cells are broken down and recycled. It may help in preventing cancer cell growth.
3. Drinking the right amount of water is also linked to the better functioning of body organs and may prevent your vulnerability to several diseases.
Dangers of water fasting
1. This is, by no means, a healthy way to lose weight. You may end up losing muscle mass too. Drinking just water will deprive you of all the necessary nutrients.
2. It’s not just water, the food you eat also contributes to the water you consume in a day. So, relying on just water may also leave you dehydrated, causing dizziness, headaches, nausea, constipation, low blood pressure and low productivity. If you want to avoid dehydration, you may need to drink more than usual.
3. It may also cause a sudden drop in blood pressure known as orthostatic hypertension. Some conditions may get aggravated due to long term fasting like a sudden fall in blood sugar levels.
There are many safer methods to lose weight than water fasting. For healthy weight loss, the simple maths is to burn more calories than you consume. This balance is easy to achieve with a well-balanced diet and regular exercise. And in current times, when being in good health is more important than ever, fad diets like water fasting is a fool’s gamble. Remember your safety is in your hands.
Stay safe, stay healthy :)
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