Fasting- Can it Improve Your Health
What is Fasting?
The Miriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary defines fasting as to abstain from food or to eat sparingly or abstain from some foods. The practice of fasting goes back as far as we have written history. Fasting is practiced by many religions and is also practiced by many proponents of preventive medicine.
Fasting done correctly is the total elimination of food for a number of hours or days. Only water is taken in the body which allows the body to restore itself to optimal health.
You may hear people refer to “juice” fasts, where the only food taken in is fruit and vegetable juices but that is not a true fast. In fact the “Juice Fasts” should be called juice feasts as most proponents of juicing will take in nearly the same amount of calories as they would whole food during their regular nutrition schedule. No food is taken in during a true fast.
There are a significant number of people that practice “Natural Hygiene” where one of the major components is fasting done to cleanse the system of toxins and restore the body to health. Most fasting proponents will fast for short periods at least 2 times annually.
Scientists estimate that approximately 30% of your caloric intake is used in the digestion process. According to fasting experts when food is eliminated major beneficial changes take place in the body.
Once the initial stores of sugar contained in the liver are used up the body will use stored fat as fuel. The toxins that are contained in the fat are released as the fat is burned for fuel. No new toxins are being put into the body which allows the body to cleanse itself.
The fat levels are also reduced in the body and the bloodstream which will allow the blood to flow better because it will be “thinner”. Since the blood flows better and is thinner it is able to better oxygenate the body tissues. Improved oxygenation of tissues along with less energy needed to digest new food during the fast is used by the body to regenerate cells, eliminate toxins and improve cell growth.
Many people will go through what is called a “Healing Crisis” during the first day or so during a fast. During this healing crisis people report symptoms similar to the flu or a bad cold. This is the body’s way of telling you that it is getting rid of the toxins that have built up. These symptoms usually subside and get less with each subsequent fast.
Usually during a fast or just after the fast a person may notice a decrease in pain or possibly a total elimination of pain. After fasting many people say they feel better than they ever have.
A true fast where only water is used in place of food may not be suitable for everyone, especially those that eat a diet of mostly processed food. A juice fast may be best for these people. Water can cause a very strong detoxifying effect, which may be too uncomfortable for some people.
Short term fasts (1-2 days) can usually be done by the individual without any outside assistance. Longer term fasts which would be any fast longer than 3 days should only be undertaken with the advice and assistance of an experienced fasting supervisor.
Long term fasts which may last 30 days or longer are often used in the treatment of chronic disease. Long term fasts are often repeated several times with periods of healthy nutrition and exercise in between fasts. I have heard of fasts lasting as long as 300 days.
During the fast other therapies may also be use which help aid in the elimination of waste from your body. The use of exercise, colonics, sunlight, meditation, yoga stretching, tai chi, and Pilates as well as making sure the body gets plenty of rest are ways to assists the detoxification process.
Fasting has been reported to be effective in treating high blood pressure, headaches, allergies, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, psychological problems, obesity, high cholesterol, lethargy, and general malaise.
Some studies in Scandanavia have shown that fasting can be effective in the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Fasting done properly is a low cost and effective therapy for a wide range of health related problems. Long fasts should only be undertaken with the aid of an experienced fasting supervisor.
Fasting supervisors may be physicians or health care professionals. You will find D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy), ND (Doctor of Naturopathy), D.C (Doctor of Chiropractic) and Nutritionists among the many healthcare professionals that provide fasting supervision.
Should you decide to try fasting you should attempt to find a supervisor that has had training and experience in the administration of fasts. It is usually best to find someone who has actually been through fasting. Most proponents of fasting have indeed been through fasts and do them regularly
Disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be regarded as Medical Advice. This is provided for educational and informational purposes only. If you are ill or need medical advice see a licensed healthcare professional ASAP.
For more information:
* American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (800) 206-7610
* International Association of Professional Natural Hygienists (305) 454-2220
* Northwest Naturopathic Clinic (503) 224-8083
* Revor Salloum, ND (604) 763-5445
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