PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Fasting is not only a practice that religious leaders encourage from time to time.
Believe it or not, people are finding health benefits by abstaining from food for hours.
In this week's Health Desk report sponsored by Bay Medical Sacred Heart, News 13's Alex Thorson tells us how one emergency room physician claims Americans can benefit from fasting.
What started as an idea became Dr. Frank Merritt's biggest commitment. It's now his latest masterpiece.
The doctor found his inspiration after facing a tough reality.
"My best friend was diagnosed with brain cancer and was given six months to live," he said.
In addition to chemotherapy and radiation, his friend tried fasting.
"Long story short, instead of living six months, he lived seven years," he said.
Dr. Merritt said fasting helped add six more years to his friend's life but the benefits of fasting don't stop there.
He said it also gives our digestive system a rest and can help people lose weight.
"When we eat every two to three hours, which has kind of been the advice within the last 20 to 30 years, we've seen obesity and metabolic syndromes get worse," he said.
It can also help in other ways.
"When it [the liver] doesn't constantly have food going in, can actually produce fuel and energy for us," he said.
Dr. Merritt studied exactly how Americans can benefit from fasting in his book, The 17 Hour Fast.
"What we wanted to do is get a scientific number for how long you should fast," Dr. Merritt said.
As you can guess, 17 hours was that special number.
His book details what to eat, when to eat, and why holding off can improve your health.
"Fasting is the solution to a lot of our problems," he said.
You can find his book here: https://www.amazon.com/17-Hour-Fast-Eating-Revitalize/dp/198087459X
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