New Delhi: Millions of Christian denominations around the world observe a month of restraint for Lent that begins on Ash Wednesday (14th February for this year), which is today, and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday. Basically, Lent is a season of forty days – not counting Sundays – representing the time Jesus Christ spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry. During the Lenten season, believers commit to fasting, as well as giving up certain luxuries, instead, focus on their relationships with God. Many Christians, particularly Catholic, abstain from eating meat on Wednesdays, Friday and Saturdays during this period.
But whether you do it for religious reasons or not, many studies have shown that observing a period of restraints around certain foods can have immense health benefits. Here, we have listed some amazing benefits you can reap from observing a fast:
- Various research studies suggested that taking a break from eating can sometimes reduce risk factors for chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
- A team of scientists from the University of Southern California found that a fasting diet could reverse diabetes and repair the damaged pancreas.
- Eating and digesting food takes a toll on the body, and taking the odd break from that can be a good thing,
- According to Professor Amanda Salis, who researches severe energy restriction at the University of Sydney, eating and digesting food can take a toll on the body, and taking the odd break from that can be a good thing.
- Psychologist Meredith Fuller puts it this way: “Fasting can also help you reset your relationship with food.”
- Many studies found that fasting could boost the production of a certain protein which is beneficial for brain function best known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF, which may also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer and Parkinson disease.
- During the Lent period, many people stay away from certain foods like meat and meat products, including beef, pork, chicken. Giving up or limiting meat intake may help to lower your risk of diseases, including cancer. Also, a study, published April 9, 2012, in the Archives of Internal Medicine, by a team of Harvard researchers found that people who ate the more red meat tended to die younger and to die more often from cardiovascular disease and cancer. This means fasting can add years to your life, helping you live longer.
- Fasting also aids in weight loss – that’s because excessive fats stored around your organs can interfere with organ function, however, studies suggest that fasting may help you reach ketosis, the fat-burning state. In a 2014 study, participants who alternated fast and feed days experienced a reduction in weight.
- Fasting cleanses and detoxifies the body. Truth is, over time, your body heats up and then the immune system gets knocked down. But, fasting is a great way to recharge, rejuvenate, and renew the body.
- Fasting can also help slow down ageing process by producing more human growth hormone (HGH) – we tend to age faster when the body produces less HGH.
Turns out, there’s a bigger reason for observing the Lent fast, alongside the spiritual benefits, you can also experience a wide range of health benefits from doing it.