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Friday, August 13, 2010

The Health Benefits of Fasting

"Fasting is the simplest, easiest and most effective way to find out that we do indeed have the power and freedom to heal and take control of our bodies." (link)

As part of my religious observance, I fast for 24-hours once a month, every month (as long as I'm not pregnant or nursing full time). Though I don't know of any religion that encourages its people to fast as regularly as mine does, many others religious people believe in the spiritual benefits of fasting. But did you know there are many physical health benefits as well?

And it's important to note the following from this site:

"A fast does not chemically begin until the carbohydrate stores in the body begin to be used as an energy source. The fast will continue as long as fat and carbohydrate stores are used for energy, as opposed to protein stores. Once protein stores begin to be depleted for energy (resulting in loss of muscle mass) a person is technically starving."

So we're not talking about starving here (though it certainly often feels that way for most of us), but simply giving the body a rest from the digestion process for one day.

"The human body has many ordinary modes of achieving elimination: the liver, lungs, kidneys, colon, etc. When these are overloaded, the body will resort to "extra ordinary" methods of elimination: boils, mucous and other discharges, sweats, vomiting, diarrhea, and many others. Should elimination be impossible or uneconomical of body energy, the toxic overload will go into storage forms in the joints, vessels, muscles, organs; almost any tissue in the body. While fasting, the body is highly conservative of its energy and resources." (link)
For those whose physical condition allows them to fast, did you know how many health benefits there are to this practice? Among other things, fasting allows for:Autolysis
  • Ketosis
  • Detoxification
  • Rejuvenation of digestion system
  • The body to divert its energy from the digestive system and toward metabolism and the immune system
  • Better resistance to disease
  • A higher efficiency in protein synthesis, which results in healthier cells, tissues and organs
  • Increased mental acuity
  • Easier transition into a healthier diet/lifestyle
  • Overcoming addictions
  • Healing of chronic conditions and disease, such as allergies, uterine fibroid tumors, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and diabetes
In addition, I have learned that when I fast regularly I have better self-control in other aspects in my life, including, but not limited to, my appetite. Yet, even if all the above facts were not known, fasting regularly would still be worth it to me for its spiritual benefits.

“A wonderful thing about fasting is that it puts an interval between the behavior that you are accustomed to and the behavior that you aspire to. We tend to be creatures of habit, and the ways that we are accustomed to eating and living feel as natural to us as breathing. That is why it is so difficult for people to stop bad habits. But fasting brings your present lifestyle to an abrupt halt. It gives you an opportunity to pause, reflect and decide how you are going to conduct your life afterwards. This enables you to make a break with your past and set off in a new, more positive direction." (link)

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