Fasting – the physician within

Most of us start the day with breakfast. Breakfast is a wonderful opportunity to wake up and put our brains into a higher gear. It is also an end to something most of us are not aware of. As the name implies, breakfast breaks the fast. In a way we all fast a bit while we’re fast asleep.

Fasting is a voluntary and complete abstinence from all food except water. The difference between fasting and starvation is in the use of our body’s food reserves. During a fast we are using up our food reserves, which allow us to function more or less (grumpiness aside) normally. Starvation, on the other hand, sets in once these reserves have already been used up. The body begins to “eat” its fat reserves and muscle tissue. Weight loss is followed by organ damage and, eventually, death. [1]food-man-person-eatingN

The art of “saying no to food” is as old as humanity. It was, and still is, practised in different forms throughout religions and cultures. Many notable figures from human history fasted, either to clear their minds or to improve their health. Philip Paracelsus, for example, called fasting one of the greatest remedies – the physician within. It can also be used as a method of protest. This “type” of fasting is better known as a hunger strike. Its milder counterparts are nowadays gaining in popularity among people because of their numerous health benefits. [2]

By correctly and regularly practising fasting we can, among other things, improve our sleep, senses and resistance to diseases. Fasting also gives us more energy and has an anti-ageing effect. The most obvious result of it can be loss of weight. There are different methods of fasting, from dry, liquid to partial and intermittent. The method and length of the fast should be tailored to the lifestyle, health condition and goals of a person. [3]belly-body-clothes-diet-53528N

Most people can fast safely. All we need is to pick the method of fasting which suits us best, be in good health and a have a stronger will. There are, however, some exceptions. Children, people of very old age, pregnant and nursing women shouldn’t fast. It is also not advisable to lay down the forks after a major illness, surgery or if you have a medical condition, such as liver or kidney disease, a weakened immune system, weak circulation or an eating disorder, just to name a few. Moreover, if you find yourself fit for the task and want to embark on longer fasts, do so after consulting an expert and under supervision. [3]

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is, the Germans say. If you’re afraid and have doubts in giving fasting a try though, don’t. Fasting can be a rewarding experience and should be done in a relaxed, confident and an overall positive state of mind.

By Aljaž Malek



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