Friday, September 17, 2010

The Health Benefits of Fasting

For starters, I'd like to wish all those celebrating Yom Kippur all the best. For those not in the know, Yom Kippur is a Jewish High Holiday marked by a full day of fasting and atonement - no driving, no shopping, no bathing, no drinking and definitely no eating. But before all this begins, those celebrating the High Holiday feast on all kinds of goodies like honey cake, among other delicious foods to load up their energy stores for the next 26 hours. And when it's all over, it's time for water, tea and snacks (like cake or bagels - something to dip in the tea) again!

Despite the fact that this particular fast is for religious purposes, it got me thinking about fasting in general - lots of people do it now and again and there are definitely some good reasons to try it once in a while. There's even a lot of scientific evidence out there pointing to the fact that sporadic fasting can actually help manage one's weight (not too surprising) but also help you live longer.

Some other benefits of fasting now and again include improved immune function and healing, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and lower blood sugar levels. One downside is that metabolic functioning slows down, so it's a good idea to drink lots of water and possibly coffee or tea (plain, no sugar or milk) to keep your metabolism humming along.

So for those starting to fast this weekend, whatever your reason may be - here's to your good health!