Fasting refers to complete abstinence from food for a short or long period for a specific purpose. It is nature's oldest, most effective and yet least expensive method of treating disease and is recognised as the cornerstone of natural healing. The word is derived from old English, 'feastan' which means to fast, observe, be strict.
Why should I be aware of this?
- Fasting improves the system’s immunity and brings about a rapid detoxification of the body. The body conserves a considerable amount of energy since the digestive system is devoid of any activity during fasting.
- Depending on the constitution of the body, fasting can bring about an imbalance in the hormonal system, blood pressure and emotions as well. It can cause exhaustion due to energy loss, leading to headaches, nausea, and muscle pain.
Fasting and health
- Water fasting helps in cleansing the body of toxins.
- Fasting can cure insomnia.
- Fasting helps to a great extent in de-addiction, by giving the power of control over smoking and alcohol consumption.
- It can help reduce obesity and in turn reduce many risks associated with it.
All about fasting
Fasting is an integral part of many of the major religions including Islam, Judaism and Christianity. A vast number of alternative healers believe that fasting can do wonders for the human body.
Fasting takes effect within the first twelve to twenty-four hours of starting the fast. It begins only after the carbohydrates stored in the body begin to be used as an energy source. The fast will continue as long as fat and carbohydrate stores are used for energy, as opposed to protein stores. Once protein stores begin to be depleted for energy, a person is technically starving.
Types of fasting
During fasting, as there is a lack of incoming energy, the body turns to its own resources. This function, called autolysis, is the breaking down of fat stores in the body in order to produce energy. There are different degrees of fasting being practiced in the present day. The toughest is abstaining from any kind of liquid or solid food including water. An easier version involves intake of liquids like milk, water, tender coconut or butter milk. Sometimes a fruit or two is also permitted. Water fasting refers to the intake of water only.
Benefits of fasting
- Detoxification, which is a normal body process of eliminating or neutralizing toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph glands, and skin, is considered the biggest benefit of fasting. Detoxification takes place when the body turns to the fat reserves for energy. These fat reserves were created when excess glucose and carbohydrates were not used for energy or growth. During fasting, when the fat reserves are used for energy, the chemicals from the fatty acids are released into the system and then eliminated through the organs mentioned. Even chemicals which we absorb from the environment are also stored in fat reserves and get released during a fast.
- Healing process is the second prescribed benefit of fasting. As the digestive system is not in use during fasting, the energy is diverted towards the metabolism and immune system. The healing process during a fast is precipitated by the body's search for energy sources. Higher efficiency in protein synthesis results in healthier cells, tissues and organs. This is one reason that animals stop eating when they are wounded, and why humans lose appetite during influenza. In this manner, while fasting the energy is consciously diverted from the digestive system to the immune system.
- Extended life expectancy is the most scientifically proven advantage of fasting. This long-term benefit is brought about because of a slower metabolic rate, more efficient protein production, an improved immune system, and the increased production of hormones. In addition to the human growth hormones that is released more frequently during a fast, an anti-aging hormones is also produced more efficiently.
What can I do?
- The duration of the fast is important and depends on the age of the person fasting, the nature of the disease and the amount and type of drugs previously used.
- Remember that long periods of fasting can be dangerous if undertaken without complete professional guidance.
- It is, therefore, advisable to undertake a series of short fasts of two to three days and gradually increase the duration of each succeeding fast by a day or so.
- Do not exceed the period over a week of total fasting at a time. This will enable the chronically sick body to gradually and slowly eliminate toxic waste matter without seriously affecting the natural functiong of the body.
- After the fast adopt a correct mode of living and a balanced diet. This will restore your vigour and vitality.
The best, safest and most effective method of fasting is juice fasting. Although the old classic form of fasting was a pure water fast, most of the leadng authorities on fasting today agree that juice fasting is far superior to a water fast.
- How is fasting beneficial?
- The Health Benefits of Fasting
- A complete Handbook of Nature Cure by H.K. Bakhru