Health Risks of Fasting

Health Risks of Fasting.

Dieting or severe dieting called fasting are the two common methods used by many people as a quick weight loss trick. Ideally, fasting is depriving the body of its daily ratio of energy derived from food. It is usually effective in loosing body mass but like all shortcuts, it is not entirely safe. In cases of deprivation the body cuts down on its usual energy requirement to ensure survival. Some of the side effects associated with these energy expeditions are listed below.

Synthesis of body muscles: During fasting the body is deprived of food hence cannot get energy from digestion and assimilation of food particles causing a drop in blood sugar level. In order to cover this deficiency the body breaks down muscles in the form of glycogen (muscle wasting) causing rapid loss of body mass characteristic of fasting. Breakdown of protein in the body causes depletion of important minerals like calcium, potassium and sodium; loss of these minerals in extreme cases is fatal.

Synthesis of stored body fat: After the body has depleted glycogen reserves and if still more energy is required as no food is available during fasting, the body starts breaking down adipose fats for energy. The breakdown of fats yields glycerol and fatty acids. Glycerol is sent to the liver for further breakdown to yield glucose and fatty acids and these are assimilated in the body to generate energy. Breakdown of fats yields a kind of fatty acid known as ketone. High ketone content in blood causes acidity of blood, loss of appetite, foul breath and in extreme cases can lead to a comma or death.

Reduced brain activity: During fasting the body is forced to synthesize protein and fats which in turn produces fatty acids. The brain uses glucose to carry out its activities and glucose is scarce during fasting. Fatty acids cannot pass the blood-brain barrier and hence the brain is forced to reduce it activities or slow them down. This is characterized by dizziness, lack of concentration and drowsiness; all characteristic of people who are fasting.

Dehydration and persistent headaches: In some cases people who are fasting indulge in water fasting; depriving the body of healthy water supply causing dehydration. Dehydration is linked with losses in important minerals like sodium, potassium and calcium. This also causes reduction in vasoconstriction reducing blood flow to the brain and since thus causing severe headaches. Loss of minerals and electrolytes due to dehydration also contributes to the headaches; other symptoms are fatigue and general body weakness.

Heartburns: During fasting the body should not produce gastric acid ideally, but constant thoughts of food and smell of it makes the brain to send impulses to the stomach to cause release of gastric acid which causes heartburns. In cases of habitual fasts this condition could escalate and turn into stomach ulcers due to acid indigestion.

Slow metabolism: The body goes into a starvation mode to retain the available resources to last longer thus, causing reduction in use of energy which results in lower body temperatures and decreased appetite.

For people with weight problems fasting is usually a quick way of losing weight but it is advisable to consult experts to determine how safe it is for you. Proper management of fasting will not only aid to help in healthy weight loss but also in averting medical complications.

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2 Comment(s)

Most people fast for spiritual purposes not to lose weight.
By: Lo 10 years ago
It is surely risky to adopt fasting as a means of reducing weight. The tendency to gain weight is due to imbalanced nutrition and lack of exercise. Instead of fasting it is advisable to have a balanced nutrition consisting of some proven meal replacement program and one whole meal during the day. The habit of eating in between meals should be overcome and if at snacks rich in fibre and/or proteins should be taken instead of carbohydrate, sugar or fat rich items.

jayant giri
By: Jayant Giri 12 years ago

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