Recent scientific findings are leading nutritional researchers to believe that the practice of “cleansing”—a combination of intermittent fasting with herbs and vitamins that support detoxification—provides surprising health benefits.
A body of evidence in both animals and humans has been steadily building to support cleansing as a foundation for weight control, appetite regulation, improved insulin sensitivity, brain health, cell and tissue maintenance, and detoxification.
Studies on intermittent fasting have shown that it is just as effective for weight loss as compared to cutting calories (Eshghinia and Mohammadzadeh, 2013). In one study, overweight women who fasted intermittently for six months lost more weight than women who restricted their calories every day (Harvie et al., 2011).
Reset Food Cravings
It would seem that after a day without eating, one would be more likely to gorge on food. However, evidence suggests that when intermittent fasting becomes a habit, less food is commonly eaten during normal calorie days (Varady, 2007). This could be due to shrinking of the stomach on fast days, so that you’re less likely to overeat.
Reset Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin sensitivity—how well insulin directs glucose in the blood into the right body tissues where it is used for energy—also looks to be “reset” by fasting. One study showed that healthy men who fasted for 20 hours every other day for 15 days, had increased rates of glucose uptake. This showed better insulin sensitivity and control of blood sugar (Halberg et al., 2005).
Research on fasting’s effect on the brain and mood has only been done on animals, but the results are promising. Fasting seems to stimulate the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This increases the resistance of brain neurons to degeneration, and preserves learning and memory (Mattson, 2005).
Fasting also benefits by stimulating growth of new brain neurons, called neurogenesis (Mattson and Wan, 2005). When levels of BDNF increase, so do levels of serotonin, also known as the “feel good” neurotransmitter (Martinowich and Lu, 2008). One study among ageing men found that after two-day fasts, their moods and perceptions of quality of life were improved (Teng et al., 2011).
One of the most important defence mechanisms against aging is a process called autophagy (Teng et al., 2011). Autophagy can be compared to the body doing its own “housekeeping”- ensuring that all organ systems run smoothly. Old, damaged cell components are repaired or discarded; cells can then function optimally.
Autophagy decreases as we age, so the body’s ability to help itself is reduced. Fasting has been shown to promote autophagy (Bergamini et al., 2007). In other words, the consumption of fewer calories allows the body to rest and repair. Perhaps, this is the reason why fasting has an “anti-aging” effect.
Finally, detoxification takes place while cleansing. Improved detoxification (or the increased efficiency of phase 1, 2, and 3 enzyme systems) while cleansing is very fascinating. Nutritional support counteracts the oxidative damage caused by toxins.
Nutritional cleansing can do more than just help you lose weight. As science has shown, cleansing benefits the entire body, helping it to repair, reset, and restore. By including regular cleansing in your lifestyle, you are committing to living healthier and for longer.
Adapted from: “The Science Behind Cleansing”, IsagenixHealth.net.
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