A group of doctors did a study on 200 Mornons in the state of Utah who fasted regularly (as part of their culture). The results were compared with other individuals (non-Mornons) that didn't fast and found remarkable differences. Specifically, X-ray scans revealed normal arteries in about half of the Mornons who fasted v/s narrowed arteries in 75 per cent individuals who didn't fast.
One of my clients came to my clinic with this magazine clipping that more or less encouraged fasting as a way to avoid diabetes and several other diseases. The research conducted by a team of doctors seemed to suggest that fasting halved the chances of getting diabetes.
The test group did not take any nourishment other than water for a period of 24 hours. All individuals were administered a series of health checks and were monitored even when they did not fast. The tests revealed that during the fasting stage, significant amounts of human growth hormone were released. The human growth hormone triggers metabolism which in turn burns fat. During the fasting stage, cholesterol levels also shot up but returned to pre-fasting stage after the fast was over.
I for one have a serious problem with the so called conclusion of this research. I admit that fasting would trigger release of human growth hormone but how effective is that in losing fat? Just as refilling your gas tank will fill up empty spaces in it, so too when you eat the next day after you fast, any little fat that might have been lost is replaced. This is a known fact. As for differences in the arteries, there is simply no evidence that fasting alone had anything to do with it. Let us not forget that the Mornons live life differently. They do not eat like we do. And even in their case, over 40% showed reduced artery width. So to draw conclusions on the basis of just one factor i.e. fasting would in my book, be ridiculous.
Fasting - hype or a home run?
In all my years of providing service and advice to the community, I've never advised fasting as a means of reducing weight or as a means of achieving other imagined benefits. Remember when you fast, the body is starved of nutrition. It sources its nourishment internally until food is again available. Once food is obtained, the first task the body does is to replenish the stocks of energy that were utilized during the fast.
Fasting as a body cleanser
Again, there isn't an iota of scientific evidence that fasting switches the body into some kind of self-cleaning mode or that fasting allows our organs to recuperate. If that were so, our genes would have programmed individual organs including the heart, to shut off from time to time.