Occasional fasting may be a fast fix for our health

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Many people routinely fast, going hungry for a day or a couple of days either for spiritual or health reasons. Some say fasting cleanses toxins from the body. Others enjoy a spiritual awareness that hunger arouses. The irregular diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors is often cited as an evolutionary basis for deliberately restricting our modern diet.

Tens of millions of people of Muslim faith will soon start a month of fasting from sun up until sun down during Ramadan. The Ramadan fast serves to heighten empathy with those who are hungry or lack water and to test the duty and commitment of practitioners in addition to the spiritual elements so often embraced in the act of denying oneself. But all who embrace the concept of occasional fasting might enjoy learning of some recent scientific findings that support the idea that fasting promotes health.

Late last year, researchers from the University of Ottawa reported that intermittent fasting fights obesity and metabolic disorders better than counting calories. Lead researcher Kyoung-Han Kim reports:

Intermittent fasting without a reduction in calorie intake can be a preventative and therapeutic approach against obesity and metabolic disorders.

The scientists attribute their findings to a change in the immune reactions in fat cells. With obesity and diabetes (a prevalent metabolic disorder) still increasing, this news might be welcome to anyone trying to keep their health under control.

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