Water aids the human body in countless ways. Research cardiologists in the U.S. found that fasting can lower the risks of developing coronary artery disease and diabetes, but also can improve your blood cholesterol levels. I fast once a month for a 36-hour period so I’m always interested in studies showing the benefits of proper fasting. This study showed that fasting for just 24 hours can bolster a metabolic protein called human growth hormone (HGH) that protects lean muscles. Another study reported by American Heart Association also found a link between lower rates of heart disease and people who fast one day each month for religious practices. And the cornerstone of these fasts is water.
Two different clinical trials followed patients who drank only water and ate nothing else for 24 hours. They were also monitored while eating a normal diet during an additional 24-hour period. Blood tests and physical measurements were taken from each subject to evaluate their cardiac risk factors, markers of metabolic risk, and other general health parameters. Although calorie restrictions found in juice-only fasting can be beneficial for heart health, water-only fasts produced the most beneficial results. “Extreme diets generally do little more than cause frustration, are potentially dangerous, and are in general a waste of time and money,” says Michelle May, MD, author of “Am I Hungry? What to Do When Diets Don't Work.”
Overly strict regimens can lead to fluid losses that can disturb the body’s electrolyte balance, causing upset stomach, headaches, fatigue, moodiness, and even dehydration. Experts suggest that the body detoxes itself naturally through the hardworking kidney and liver which eliminate toxins. Therefore for a safe cleanse (which can include weight loss though that is not the primary objective), load up on healthful all-natural foods, drink lots of water, and avoid excess medications and alcohol. Since water is used in almost every biochemical process in the body, during a fast, you will generally consume more water than what you usually drink. This increase in water consumption facilitates the natural healing process, and accelerates the removal of waste products from the body. As your immune system is strengthened from this detoxification process, you may note an increase in energy, mental clarity and feelings of well-being.
Research cardiologists at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah, report that fasting not only lowers one's risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, but also causes significant changes in an individuals blood cholesterol levels. Both diabetes and elevated cholesterol are known risk factors for coronary heart disease. “These new findings demonstrate that our original discovery was not a chance event," says Dr. Benjamin D. Horne, PhD, MPH, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, and the study's principal investigator. “The confirmation among a new set of patients that fasting is associated with lower risk of these common diseases raises new questions about how fasting itself reduces risk or if it simply indicates a healthy lifestyle.”
Fasting causes hunger, obviously. In response, the body releases more cholesterol, allowing it to utilize fat as a source of fuel, instead of glucose. This decreases the number of fat cells in the body. “This is important because the fewer fat cells a body has, the less likely it will experience insulin resistance, or diabetes. People who fast have lower rates of coronary disease, and fasting was associated with a lower prevalence of diabetes,” says Dr. Horne. This recent study also confirmed earlier findings about the effects of fasting on human growth hormone (HGH), a metabolic protein. HGH works to protect lean muscle and metabolic balance, a response triggered and accelerated by fasting. During the 24-hour fasting periods, HGH increased an average of 1,300% in women, and nearly 2,000% in men. In this most recent trial, researchers conducted two fasting studies of over 200 individuals -- both patients and healthy volunteers -- who were recruited at Intermountain Medical Center.
It’s important to drink at least seven to 10, eight ounce glasses of water every day and to specifically avoid tap water during a fast. Why no municipal water? It can reintroduce toxins and chemicals into your body (stemming from antiquated and potentially harmful pipes and infrastructure) thereby actually defeating the purpose of the fast, which is to cleanse your body with natural, pure water. Do not however drink distilled water during a fast as it has no electrolytes in it that you need for optimum health. If water is too bland for you, try adding slices of lemon, maybe orange, or cucumber in your water but do not add any un-natural ingredients like sugar flavorings, or any chemically enhanced flavoring. During a fast your body needs the purest water possible to help filter toxins out of your system. Fasting is a healthy regimen and water, the body’s very own natural lubricant, is the ideal way to keep our body healthy and happy.