Some people know that a water or juice fasting retreat is a great opportunity to get away and recharge. But there are many people who have never been on a fasting retreat. Understandably, they have a lot of questions. (For the record, we have never come across anyone who isn’t clear on the concept of an ocean retreat, however!)

“Fasting is a practice that dates back centuries and plays a central role in many cultures and religions,” says  Rachael Link, MS, RD, writing for Healthline. “Defined as the abstinence from all or some foods or drinks for a set period of time, there are many different ways of fasting.”

There are water fasts and cleansing juice fasts. There are fasting retreats and then there is intermittent fasting, which involves refraining from eating for certain hours of the day. Some people fast as part of their spiritual practice, for others it is an essential aspect of their wellness routine – and for some the two seem to combine. 

What Are the Benefits of Fasting?

“Fasting has been shown to have many health benefits, from increased weight loss to better brain function,” Link says. She shared a number of those benefits, each of which is backed by scientific research, with Healthline readers.

Among the benefits of fasting, she says, are: 

  • Improved blood sugar control. “In fact, one study in 10 people with type 2 diabetes showed that short-term intermittent fasting significantly decreased blood sugar levels (1),” she says.
  • Enhanced cardiovascular health. Link says, “One study in 4,629 people associated fasting with a lower risk of coronary artery disease, as well as a significantly lower risk of diabetes, which is a major risk factor for heart disease (11).”

Supports weight loss. Link says there is research that indicates short-term fasting may help to boost your metabolism.