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Researchers have demonstrated that fasting counteracts a variety of ailments including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even diminishing cognition but these findings were based on studies of rats and other laboratory animals where the researcher controlled the animal’s fast. Even if fasting was as beneficial for humans as it is for rats and mice, the reality is that most of us don’t like to be hungry and there’s no researcher to enforce the fast.
In 2017, Longo was a co-author on the first human trial of whether fasting might reduce the risk factors for diseases like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. The researchers randomized 100 people into one of two groups for three months: The first group ate anything they wanted, and the second fasted for five consecutive days each month. (By “fasted” here, I mean, they followed the fasting-mimicking diet.) After three months, the first group was crossed over into the fasting group, so the researchers could gather even more data on fasting.
The findings were clear: Fasting just five days per month improved people’s health outcomes. The group that fasted lost weight (about 7 pounds on average), lost some body fat, lowered their blood pressure, and decreased their IGF-1, a genetic marker for diseases such as cancer. (Their total cholesterol, blood glucose, and triglycerides didn’t budge.)
We are wise to recognize that food was the enticement the devil used to cause Eve and Adam to sin in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 2 the Lord God told Adam and Eve that they could eat freely of every tree in the garden of Eden, "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17). God did not tell Adam and Eve to refrain from touching a particular animal or smelling a particular flower or swimming in a certain stream. He told them to refrain from taking a particular fruit into their bodies-one type of fruit out of all the many types He had made available to them.
If you're looking to lose weight, this isn't a problem. And even if you're happy with your weight, this won't prove to be too much of an issue if you follow the daily fasting or weekly fasting schedules. However, if you're fasting for 24 hours per day on multiple days per week, then it's going to be very difficult to eat enough of your feast days to make up for that.
César Chávez undertook a number of spiritual fasts, including a 25-day fast in 1968 promoting the principle of nonviolence, and a fast of 'thanksgiving and hope' to prepare for pre-arranged civil disobedience by farm workers. Chávez regarded a spiritual fast as "a personal spiritual transformation". Other progressive campaigns have adopted the tactic.