I have been aware of fasting as a religious practice since my childhood, and it comes naturally to me. During Ramadan, we fast for 30 days from sunrise till sunset without any food or water. When I migrated to Canada – many commented that fasting like this cannot be healthy. I even heard that from fellow Nutritionists who thought water fasting is fine however dry fasting did not sound right.
Today “fasting” as a healing practice is a hot button topic. Almost as popular as CBD oil!!
Fasting is a natural healing treatment that has been used for centuries to aid and support good health and even to fast track healing of multiple diseases. While pharmaceuticals and sometimes even nutraceuticals aim to correct or treat the symptoms of a particular disease, fasting unleashes the body`s hidden powder to heal from the inside out. Fasting can target the root cause of many health conditions as it enables the body`s ability to create healthy cells and destroy the damaged cells.
With fasting, a whole new world of healing potential opens up for your body. Our body’s intelligence is capable of healing itself – when given a chance to do so.
The Benefits of Fasting
Fasting relieves the liver and the digestive system from processing food, which requires a lot of energy. When this energy is not required, it is then used for other thing mentioned below.
- Cleansing the body’s metabolic wastes, as well as toxins.
- Fasting decreases body inflammation and pain.
- Fasting assists with weight loss and helps to keep it off as well.
- Fasting strengthens the digestive fire or Agni (HCl and enzymes) from an Ayurvedic perspective.
- Fasting helps tighten and tones the skin as well as increase skin glow
- Fasting promotes new cell growth which has an anti-aging effect.
- Fasting boosts the immune system and the body’s natural defense mechanism.
- Fasting can balance hormones and strengthens glandular health.
- Fasting will balance blood sugar, therefore is a healing method for diabetes.
- Fasting improves blood pressure and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Fasting improves mental clarity and enhances your mood.
- Fasting increases energy and vitality.
- Fasting can assist with reaching a meditative state sooner.
Ayurveda and Fasting:
From an Ayurvedic perspective, one must take into consideration their age, location, time of the year or day of the week, dosha type/body type etc. before starting a fast. According to Ayurvedic practice, “Spring” is the best time to fast or cleanse the body. It is believed that the body’s self-cleansing power is kindled when the sun starts to shine more.
Kapha body types have a tendency towards weight gain and stronger physique. Fasting and movement are mostly beneficial for Kapha type. When fasting, Kapha body types can easily get rid of metabolic wastes, toxins, and body fats. Kapha’s also tolerate fasting quite well.
Excessive or extreme fasts are not suitable to most Vata types or Vata-Pitta types unless they are experiencing weight gain. Mono diet is best for Vata types.
A two to three-day juice fasting or a mono-diet may be ideal for Pitta body types.
An Ayurvedic practitioner can design a fasting regime for you according to your body type. It is important to have a customized fasting regime to increase the effectiveness of the fasting.
How Long should you Fast?
- It would be easy, to begin with, IM. I finish my dinner by 5 or 6 pm and do not eat or drink the next day until 10 am. This makes it a 16 hour fast. You can start with 12 then work up to 16 hours of fasting.
- You can then progress into one-day water fast. Or a dry fast from sunrise to sunset.
- You could also do a 3-day fast once a month regularly. Depending on your health, medical condition, location, and your health care practitioner`s advice this can be water fast. I have done dry fasting for 24 hours during the winter months.
- There is also a one-week fast you can do seasonally for cleansing.
Always take advice from your primary health care practitioner.
I would ONLY continue fasting as long as there is no stress on the body such as dizziness, fatigue, hunger pain, and low energy. You should not force the body.
Cautions of Fasting
- Due to the lack of nutrients and sugar, fasting can cause irritability, hunger pain, and headaches.
- Fasting may interfere with social engagements that involve eating.
- After fasting is completed, some people may experience overeating to compensate.
- Fasting may affect people with gut conditions such as IBS and IBD.
- Fasting should not be performed if you are hypoglycemic or diabetes since blood sugar can become dangerously low.
- Fasting can disrupt menstruation and fertility in women who are malnourished or follow restrictive diets. Intermittent fasting can balance hormones.
- Fasting should not be performed if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Fasting can cause dehydration and low blood pressure, dizziness, and fainting in some people.
- Fasting may not be suitable for people with certain health conditions such as chronic kidney disease, gout, and heartburn.
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