What is fasting
In general, fasting is classified as going without food and or water for certain time period. Fasting has been a practice performed for centuries for a multitude of reasons such as wanting to lose weight, cleanse the body of impurities, get in touch with their spiritual powers, and many other reasons we’ll get into. But why should you fast? What good would it do for you? Why even consider fasting as a method of general health and wellness and improving your quality of life? Read on..
What common types of fasting experiences are there
- Short 24-48 hour fasts and intermittent fasting are two of the most common types of fasting.
- Religious or spiritual based fasting: as an example of a religious fast, one of the major religions of the world, the Latter Day Saints (mormons), conduct monthly fasts on the first Sunday of each month. They fast for 24 hrs without food or water. They also focus on praying to God in private during that time period of fasting. It occurs on the first Sunday of every month of the year. Additionally they willingly donate the money they save on the meals toward a donation to the LDS church who then uses that money to help feed the poor and hungry all throughout the world. It is a common belief among Latter Day Saints that when fasting and prayer are used together a higher degree of spiritual enlightenment and nearness to God can occur as they place a greater emphasis on the spirit instead of the body.
- Ramadan is an Islamic month of fasting that is performed for 29-30 days in the the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
- Long fasts: longer fasting periods can be done lasting longer than 2-10 days or longer.
How to start a fast
If you’ve never fasted or gone without food for longer than a day (24 hrs) then you should be aware that fasting is not for everyone. Read the tips and warnings of fasting below first. With that said, fasting can be very rewarding for your health and even a fun healthy competition of testing physical, mental and spiritual strength. Like most things in life it takes practice to get used to fasting, so start off with one day a month and then begin to increase it over time as you feel comfortable in doing so. Many people have found that the food you eat before you start a fast can make the beginning of your fast and the endurance of most fasts easier or challenging depending on the types of foods you eat. Before starting to fast it’s better to eat something nutritious, avoid junk food and refined food products and avoid stuffing your stomach full of food before fasting.
How to end or break a fast
After fasting it is quite common for most people who want to continue walking on the path of health and wellness to eat something lite more in particular low acid foods (higher Ph foods) for 2-3 meals afterward. Low acid foods could include items such as homemade lite veggie soup (low salt), applesauce with mashed banana, a berry smoothie,dates,green salad, fresh vegetables, watermelon, freshly squeezed lemon water, papaya, etc. After two to three meals after you’ve ended your fast proceed to eat a larger nutrient dense meal. Using nutritiondata.com can be very helpful to help discover more nutritious foods to eat and help plan your daily diet more effectively. Additionally, following a fast it can be beneficial for the colon to consume a probiotic formula to assist the gut with digestion and boosting healthy intestinal flora.
Health Benefits of Fasting
There is an increased volume of scientific research that has and is going on with the benefits of fasting. On PubMed you can read these sources. Below is a summarized list of the top health benefits of fasting. If you’ve personally experienced a benefit of fasting that you don’t see below feel welcome to share your comment at the bottom of this article!
- assists with eliminating harmful toxins, acid build up, crystals that can damage body tissue
- Increased glucagon levels, norepinephrine & epinephrine levels (more energy and alert!), uncoupling proteins 3 mRNA, lipolysis & fat oxidation
- Decreased insulin levels & increased insulin sensitivity, blood glucose levels, and decreased body fat and body weight. Source
- improve insulin sensitivity which reduces your chances of getting heart disease and diabetes
- can assist with creating a greater synergy connection between mind, spirit and body in some people
- gives the pancreas a needed break from all the work it does
- reduces oxidation stress and inflammation in the human cells
- helps you learn the difference between what real hunger is and cravings
- can help with reducing your risks of contracting two of the major world diseases, cancer and heart disease
- possibly helps slow down the mitochondria inside the cell from aging
Tips and Warnings:
- for most people faster longer than 24 hrs, drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated
- if conducting a fast longer than 3 days consider doing so under supervision of someone who has performed a long fast before.
- when you do eat right after your fasts remember you’re consuming less nutrients overall throughout the week so eat wisely meaning higher nutrient dense foods, and avoid junk food; refined sugars, sodas, refined flour, etc.
- avoid fasting if you’re pregnant, have a medical condition that stands in the way of fasting, you’re diabetic, under weight, had recent surgery. If you’re unsure if fasting is the right thing for you or not consult your doctor or health professional.
- losing weight can be a goal of many who fast, but losing too much weight can be unhealthy. Moderation in all things is one of the nutrition principles to keep in mind.