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THE BENEFITS OF FASTING: Fasting & Your Mental Health

Fasting is the practice of abstaining from food or drink for a period of time, and it has been practiced by various cultures and religions for centuries. While the benefits of fasting may vary depending on the individual and the specific type of fast, some of the potential positive benefits of fasting. Five of those benefits include:

1. Fasting can improve your physical health. Fasting has been linked to a number of potential health benefits, including weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. While many of us will turn to fad diets, weight loss pills or other aids, the stats are in about intermittent fasting. Even AARP wrote about the medical benefits of fasting recently.

2. Fasting can increase your mental clarity. Some people report feeling more focused and alert during periods of fasting, which may be related to changes in brain chemistry. It certainly takes your mind off of meal time and allows you to focus on more important priorities. Many will spend meal time in prayer or meditation. This is a tremendous benefit to our mental health.

3. Fasting can aid your spiritual growth. Fasting is often practiced as a form of spiritual discipline. Fasting can help deepen one's connection to God or gain insight into our own spiritual journey. We look up and then look inward. This is why many times in the Bible prayer is coupled with fasting. If you are interested in making fasting a part of your routine, I would encourage you to study what the Bible says about fasting and also, of course, talk to your doctor and/or mental health advisor. Make sure it will work in a positive way for you.

4. Fasting can improve your immune function. Some research suggests that fasting may help boost the immune system by reducing inflammation in the body. Healthline recently declared that "Fasting may provide several health benefits, including weight loss, improved blood sugar control, and decreased inflammation. It might also offer protection against certain conditions like cancer and neurodegenerative disorders." It can be especially advantageous for those who have food allergies, diabetes, and those who suffer from immune disorders. Healthline says it can actually boost your metabolism while limiting your calorie intake.

5. Fasting can increase your self-discipline. Fasting can be a challenging practice. In fact, after completing a success fast it can help build self-discipline and self-control. Anytime we sacrifice something (time, money, food, etc.), to the glory of God, there is a great spiritual benefit. In this way you can enhanced your emotional well-being. Some people report feeling a sense of calm and inner peace during periods of fasting, which may be related to the release of endorphins or other changes in brain chemistry.

It's important to note that fasting should be done safely and under the guidance of a healthcare professional, particularly for people with certain medical conditions or who are taking certain medications. Additionally, fasting may not be appropriate or beneficial for everyone, and individual results may vary depending on factors like age, health status, and the specific type of fast being practiced.

The Bible is full of stories that include fasting. Moses. Esther. Daniel. David. Jesus. Paul. The early church also practiced fasting frequently. It is evident that the church today should practice fasting in some form or another. Your mental health must be taken seriously. I urge you to visit with a mental health professional if you (or a loved one) struggles with mental health. There is hope! Take your mental health seriously.

You are loved.

Dr. Ray Reynolds

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