While fasting has been part of human culture for thousands of years, only recently have we begun to investigate the therapeutic benefits of the practice. Interestingly, modern science has found a variety of verifiable positive effects fasting that has on human health.
What Is Water Fasting?
Water fasting, also known as a water cleanse, is a type of fasting in which you consume only water for a set period of time. Many cleansing diets are referred to as fasts, but in water fasting, you take in zero calories. It’s distinct from caloric restriction in which a person’s daily caloric intake is reduced by 20–40%.
Of course, in the long-term, it’s impossible to live on water alone. Your body can’t function without calories and nutrients; they’re the batteries and building blocks of life. However, a carefully planned, short-term water fast can help reset certain biological processes and reinvigorate your health.
The most common question people ask about water fasting is “why?” Why would you voluntarily subject yourself to hunger and nutritional deprivation? There are many reasons to fast. Some people do it for religious or spiritual reasons; others to raise awareness for a cause. However, there are also well-established health benefits to fasting. Intermittent fasting encourages weight loss, reduces body fat, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and may even reduce the risk of serious conditions.[1, 2]
In the early days of humanity, fasting was the norm. Before the invention of agriculture, we were all hunter-gatherers. We ate what we could, when we could. Grabbing a snack from the fridge whenever our stomachs rumbled was not an option. Survival required that we adapt to occasional food shortages.