The only time I have ever fasted was before certain medical procedures. I didn’t like it too well. I know that it is common for certain religious practices to use fasting as a means of spiritual purification or drawing closer to God, but I’ve never been that pious. However, a prescription for fasting from God may very well be because He has humanity’s best interest at heart.

Medical professionals claim that by fasting for two or three days at a time the human immune system can reap great benefits. It seems that fasting triggers the production of white blood cells and regenerates old ones that are worn out from battling disease and infection. I guess the old saying, “Feed a fever, starve a cold,” has some wisdom attached to it, although people from long ago didn’t exactly know how that method helped heal the sick person.

However, fasting has even greater health benefits than simply strengthening the immune system. It reduces the production of a particular hormone that is linked to the growth of tumors, certain cancers and aging. That’s a pretty tall order. Here are some of the amazing things a body does in response to fasting:

•    Insulin drops, fat burn increases, Type 2 Diabetes risk lowered
•    Human growth hormone increases fat loss and increases muscle gain
•    Cells are cleansed and repaired
•    Molecules transform to contribute to longevity and disease prevention
•    Metabolic rate increases making weight loss/management easier
•    Improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lowers heart disease risk
•    Reduces stress and inflammation attributed to free radicals
•    Increases growth of nerve cells that improve brain function, helping to lower risk of brain damage from stroke and onset of Alzheimer’s

For chemotherapy patients, or the elderly who are more vulnerable to infection, this is great news. By fasting regurlarly, they can virtually regenerate and renew their immune systems. The question then is, “How often should a person fast?”

There are different ways to fast. Typically, a therapeutic fast is performed intermittently for two or three days and limits dietary intake to water, juice, and, if necessary small amounts of fruit and/or crackers. If a person is in general good health, a monthly fast for therapeutic purposes is a great regimen to practice. The elderly, or people with health conditions that may raise specific concerns, should consult with their medical professional to devise a safe and effective fasting routine.

Intermittent fasting is becoming increasingly popular because it is so easy. The trendiest methods to practice an intermittent fast are:

•    16/8 – Fast for 16 hours and eat only during a prescribed 8 hour period
•    Eat/Stop/Eat – Fast for 24 hours once weekly. For example: fast from one dinner hour until the next dinner hour
•    5:2 – For 2 days in a row only eat 500 calories.

There is no doubt that fasting is beneficial. However, until your body and mind adjust to the routine, it is also uncomfortable. Expect to feel hungry and fatigued. You will probably have cravings that will make you go out of your mind. Brain fog is also common. So, when you first embark on a new fasting regimen, begin on a day when you can stay at home without a care in the world.