What is Fasting?
- Fasting is a total or partial exclusion of one or more food groups or sometimes even water from the daily diet.
- Holy or spiritual fasting is the act of being in contact with diety.
- While another practice of fasting refers to the search for one’s inner being.
- Some fasting methods take us near nature.
Purpose of the fasting
- Fasting is done for various health reasons ranging from weight loss, to achieving good health conditions, etc.
- It is also done to commit vows to God.
- Fasting may be done to give rest to the digestive system.
It means fasting can be done for various purposes, in various ways, and by various people. It depends upon time and climate as well as food availability.
The science behind fasting
- Fasting drags the attention of the body system from digestion and allows the body to perform other important functions more effectively.
- Certain forms of fasting remove toxins accumulated in body systems.
- Fasting is mainly done by taking foods that are easy to digest.
Types of fasting include
- Having only lunch and fruits or veggies as breakfast and dinner.
- Having only dinner and fruits and veggies at breakfast and lunch.
- Or spending the day completely on fruits and veggies only.
- Consumption of only water and other liquids like fruit juices.
- Some may follow extreme fasting that even excludes water and liquid for a certain period of time.
Advantages of Fasting
1. Scientific benefits
Fasting, when combined with moderate exercise, gives the following results-
- Weight loss. ( due to taking fewer calories)
- Blood purification.
- Controlled sugar level.
- Rejuvenation of the skin.
- Blood pressure control.
- Regeneration of new body cells.
2. Spiritual benefits
Fasting, when combined with meditation, or chanting the name of deity and light exercises like yoga and pranayama, gives the following results
- Self-realization and self-discipline
- A calm mind and energetic mind
- Teachers sacrifice and patience
- Takes closer to divine energy.
- Increases willpower.
The belief behind Fasting is very important in India fasting is called ”upvasa” which is being in contact with one’s soul or deity one wishes to worship. It is also called as” vrata”.
In countries like India, fasting is done in believing that, we will get whatever we wish to live. Fasting is kept on the days chosen by the person according to their tradition and or according to their diety which they believe in.
Some fasting practices are according to the moon phases of monthly cycles and the low and high tides of the ocean.
Example-Ekadashi fasting is kept on the eleventh day of both the white fortnight and dark fortnight of the moon monthly cycle. Some fasting is kept for special purposes like praying for family health or longevity of the husband’s life.
Disadvantages of fasting
If fasting has not been done under proper guidance while keeping in mind the body’s needs and body type, it can have deleterious effects on the body. Some of these are-
- Low blood pressure
- Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels
- Nausea, vomiting, and giddiness
- Prolonged fasting causes malnutrition and wasting of muscles.
- Low metabolic rate
- Mental and Physical Dullness
What makes fasting A FAD
When fasting is followed blindly without knowing the purpose behind it as well as the advantages and disadvantages of fasting, it becomes a fad. A large group of society follows the same popular diet plan for unrealistic and dramatic changes in weight and in life, then it is called a Fad.
It is a fad when followed for certain blind faith as, if I do fasting my family’s health will be kept in good condition.
Unhealthy foods that are consumed during fasting are-
- Sago-Very popular fad food, which gives only “empty calories”.
- Tea is the most popular fad food taken on fasting to reduce appetite.
- French fries and Potato chips.
- Overuse of ground nuts
- Any kind of fried food.
- Overconsumption of sugary foods like sweets made in milk.
Healthy Foods which can be eaten on Fasting
Whole fruits vegetables, coconut water, jaggery, dry fruits, vari(french millet), milk, rajgira (amaranth seeds), liquids like buttermilk, fruit juices, etc.
After all fasting in a healthy way offers long life, good health as well as blissful mind and soul. All one need is proper guidance, knowledge, and awareness about fasting. Fasting can help us to reach OPTIMUM HEALTH BENEFITS.