(WJBK) - Fasting is an ancient practice that has been done for thousands of years, whether for medical or religious reasons.
During Ramadan, for example, fasting begins at dawn and ends at sunset. It is a time of spiritual reflection and increased devotion.
If done right, cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn says fasting can be a modern method of getting healthy.
"In general, when scientific studies are done people, will end up a little bit lighter, a little better blood pressure, a little better cholesterol, a little blood sugar at the end of 30 days," says cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn.
There are many different approaches to fasting, but here's what they all have in common. Research is finding depriving your body of food triggers a positive response.
"We actually benefit. We actually turn on responses in our body that tend to actually heal damaged parts, and the net bonus is you'll probably a little bit thinner and a little happier with your overall health," Dr. Kahn says.
So how little do we have to eat to get the benefit?
"If you pick the calories and you go four or five days about 800 calories, you'll get all of the benefits without the suffering, the pain," Dr. Kahn says.
We're used to eating when we get hungry, so if you're looking to dip your toe in the fasting pool, without diving in here's an idea.
"Start today to go about 12 or 13 hours without eating. That is the easiest thing, 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. every day; don't break the rule. You'll gain, your weight will probably go down and you'll feel better for it. Your body will have a chance to heal," he says.
Dr. Kahn suggests looking into the Fasting Mimicking Diet. The biggest downfall is that these eating plans, or, lack of eating plans, can be hard to follow. So, just take it slow.