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You have probably heard people talking about the benefits of fasting. However, you should also hear about side effects that people report with this type of dieting.

Some people give it up because of severe headaches, so there is a valid question to be asked - is it really helpful for us in any way?

More about fasting

Not everyone responds well to fasting. Thin people, and those who are particularly sensitive to cold, can have a particularly hard time. Also, too much physical activity while fasting may also be a cause of headaches. During a fast, a person purposely abstains from food for a specific time. Fasting was popular throughout the ages for both religious and therapeutic purposes. A one-day fast is unlikely to cause any harm to a healthy body. Slightly longer fasts, such as two to three days, will also be tolerated well by a healthy organism. It is also important to know that no matter how short the duration, fasting is unwise and potentially dangerous for some people. This group of people includes pregnant and lactating women, people with cancer, diabetes, gout, hypoglycemia, stomach ulcers, liver, kidney, or lung disease. It could be potentially dangerous for anyone with a compromised immune system. Some health experts caution against fasts lasting more than two to three days. This applies even to healthy individuals, but if longer fasts are practiced, they should be medically supervised.

During the first 24 hours of a fast, the body is able to utilize its stored carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. The purpose of a fast is to fuel essential body processes. When glycogen reserves are depleted, fat becomes the preferred energy source, so that proteins found in muscle tissue will be partially spared. However, some muscle tissue is often lost, even during a short fasting time. Weakness, nausea, headaches, and depression can also develop during a fast, because ammonia and nitrogen are released into the blood during the breakdown of muscle tissue. Ketones, byproducts of fat metabolism, are produced once the body switches from burning carbohydrates to burning fat. Elimination of ketones is the job of your kidneys.

In extreme cases, extended fasts can lead to disturbances of heart rhythm, or even death. Modified fasts, in which people consume fruit or vegetable juices and herbal teas, are probably easier on the body than all-water fasts. However, modified fasts should be limited in duration as well. Modified fasts lasting more than a week are something your healthcare professional should supervise.

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