Water fasting has become a popular way to lose weight quickly. If you are considering water fasting, you need to carefully weigh the benefits and dangers. Fasting of any type is not ideal for everyone and the dangers could outweigh the benefits for some people.
The Benefits Of Water Fasting
Water fasting in humans and animals has been linked to a number of health benefits. The first is the potential promotion of autophagy. This is the process where old parts of cells are broken down and recycled. Studies have suggested that this process could protect the body against certain diseases including heart disease and cancer.
The link between water fasting and autophagy has been noted in animal studies. As there are few human studies on water fasting and autophagy. More research is needed to determine if this fasting does help humans in this way.
Another potential benefit of water fasting is a reduction in blood pressure. Human studies have found that medically supervised water fasts have helped those suffering from high blood pressure lower this. One study of 68 people found that after 14 days, 82% saw their high blood pressure fall to healthy levels.
Insulin and leptin sensitivity may also be improved through water fasting. Leptin and insulin are important hormones affecting the metabolism. Research indicates that water fasting can make the body more sensitive to these hormones which makes them more effective.
The last potential benefit of water fasting is its potential to lower the risks of certain chronic diseases. A study of 30 healthy adults found that after a 24-hour water fast, cholesterol and triglyceride levels were significantly lower. These are the two risk factors for heart disease. Animal studies have found that water fasting can also protect the heart from free radical damage.
The Dangers Of Water Fasting
While there are many benefits provided by water fasting, it is important to know what the dangers are. Only when you understand both sides will you be able to make an informed decision about whether you should fast.
The primary danger is that you could be losing the wrong type of weight. The fast restricts the calories you ingest and this helps you lose weight quickly. However, the weight loss could come from water, carbohydrates or muscle mass.
Another danger that seems strange considering the fast is that you can become dehydrated. Many people do not realize that 20% to 30% of water intake comes from food and not drinking. During the fast, you may drink the same amount of water, but not eating will reduce your total water intake. This will result in dehydration, but it can be overcome by increasing your water intake during the fast.
Another danger of water fasting is the potential of orthostatic hypotension which is the drop in blood pressure when you suddenly stand up. This will leave you lightheaded and at risk of fainting. If you experience this during a water fast, you need to stop.
The last potential danger is the worsening of certain medical conditions. While the fast is short, it can aggravate certain conditions such as diabetes and gout. If you have a medical condition, you will need to talk to your doctor before you undertake any type of fasting.
Water fasting can offer a lot of benefits from weight loss to lowering blood pressure. However, these benefits have to be weighed against the potential dangers including dehydration, the aggravation of medical conditions, and the loss of the wrong type of weight. If you have any medication conditions, it is important that you talk to your doctor before attempting a water fast.