Fasting, a Healthy Feast
FASTING, A HEALTHY FEAST
“Fasting is the greatest remedy, the physician within.” - Paracelsus, 15th century Physician.
We have all heard about it! It is the latest craze, the new buzzword.
Actually, it’s not, it is as old as mankind self. We just lost direction a little, swept up with consumerism, eating 3-6 meals a day, scared we will never see food again. Confused actually by all the information out there and now I am adding to the information overload, but take it in small bite size chunks, give it time to digest and think about it, maybe try it, you might surprise yourself with the results.
Here’s the facts, most people eat too much and live sedentary lifestyles. We don’t earn our food. This surplus of food overloads our digestive organs, make them sluggish and slow and lead to self-poisoning.
Definition of Fasting and Intermittent fasting
Fasting is a disciplined and willing decision to abstain from food, drink, or both, for a period of time, generally longer than 24 hours. Fasting is the abstinence from food, it is to commit oneself to the task of finding inner strength through cleansing of the body, mind and soul.
Intermittent Fasting is when you extend the period between meals. You can do this by skipping breakfast, eating your first meal at noon and your last meal at 8 pm, or you eat between 10 am and 4 pm only.
History of Fasting
Fasting has been practiced for thousands of years. In Alexandria, the great city of Egypt, the educational centre of the world some 330 years BC, students had to fast for 40 days before they could enter and study with the masters of that time. We read that Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert before he started teaching and His disciples took long fasts as well. Pythagoras c. 480-560 BC required his students to undertake a 40 day fast before they could be initiated into the mysteries of spiritual teachings. We see animals fast when they are sick. You may even notice that when you are not feeling well, your appetite also subsides. Nothing is new, we are just going in circles, we learn and unlearn.
3 Great Reasons to Fast
1. Fasting for spiritual insights
In many cultures fasting is, or was, used to heighten the spiritual senses to develop extrasensory perception, to communicate with the gods, the ancestors and the spirits. It is said that fasting clears your mind, focuses you and get you closer to a power higher than yourself. Fasting is still used and practiced by many religious groups as a time for dedicated prayer, purifying the body, and to distance oneself from that which is material and irrelevant.
2. Fasting for a cleanse, health and weight loss
Overeating, pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers, food additives, hormones, plasticides etc. may all add to the accumulation of waste products in our bodies. This may contribute to low immune system, weight gain, chronic infections and even other chronic disease conditions. Fasting and detoxification helps the process of elimination of dead and dying cells and accelerate the building of new cells. Fasting accelerates the clearing of waste from the body, it induces autophagy, the process of self-eating. This self-eating will always involve toxins and metabolised waste first. It encourages weight loss, and it does to your body what a spring clean does for your house.
3. Fasting for self-control
Fasting is not only to purify the body, it is of great benefit, physically, mentally and morally. It will strengthen your will power and self-control. Self-control is the master key to higher realisation and development. Only once you can control the physical habits, can you master the intellectual, moral and spiritual planes of being.
The signs and symptoms of an overburdened body
Below are only a few of the symptoms or signs that indicates an overburdened body. Most of us will be able to associate with some of these signs. Fasting done the right way will dramatically improve your health and well-being.
- Aches and pains
- Chronic infections
- Coated tongue
- Colds and flu
- Difficulty losing weight
- Difficulty making decisions
- Digestive problems
- Foggy brain
- Mucus conditions, e.g. sinusitis, runny nose
- Skin disorders
- Sleep disturbances
- Stiff joints
What happens during a fast?
A fast can be anything from 14 hours to 40 days. During a fast you are only allowed to drink pure water, distilled or purified to remove all chlorine and bacteria. In some cases, herbal teas are allowed especially if there are underlying health conditions. You will be allowed to continue with your days work and do not need to stay at home and rest unless you are seriously ill. Moderate exercise is allowed, but please do not partake in physically taxing events during a fast.
During a fast do make sure you get enough sunshine, fresh air, pure water and practice some deep breathing techniques.
Fasting and your Genes
The difference between 2000 years ago and now is that now we have scientific proof that calorie restriction optimises brain function, longevity and healthy aging. Memory and cognition are enhanced by eating fewer calories. Fasting turns on genes that help cells survive by reducing inflammation.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein that protects neurons and plays a role in creating new neurons, it is vital for thinking, learning, and a higher level of brain function. You want to increase BDNF as a 1st line of defence against neurological diseases. The gene that turns on BDNF production is activated by calorie restriction, curcumin, DHA (omega 3), intermittent fasting, exercise, intellectual stimulation, and meditation.
Calorie restriction also activates an important metabolic process called the Nrf2 pathway – this process increases production of antioxidants and detoxification enzymes, and decreases the formation of toxic free radicals. Stimulating the Nrf2 pathways enhances the body’s ability to make glutathione – an important antioxidant which reduces damage to tissue and slows the aging process.
Benefits of Fasting
- Clear mind
- Easy decision making
- Improved capacity for self-education
- Improved digestion
- Improved blood sugar levels
- Memory becomes sharper
- Peaceful mind, tranquillity and get closer to the Higher Power
- Positive thinking
- Reduced symptoms of pain and inflammation
- Stimulates weight loss
- Think logically and do not get upset easily
There are contra-indications for fasting. People who are extremely anaemic or have TB should not undergo a fast. Those who are seriously ill and have low vitality should definitely go on a pre-fast eating plan to build up their vital energy. The use of certain chronic medications may also prevent you from going on a fast.
Do not attempt a fast on your own if you have not done it before or are not sure, consult a practitioner that understands fasting and is able to assess your overall health.
Do not start with a fast longer than 24 hours, practice regularly and consult a healthcare practitioner if you want to do a fast longer than 36 hours.
A fast should not give you the excuse to practice an unhealthy lifestyle but should rather inspire you to want to eat better, live better and do better!
If you want more information please contact me on http://jackyhattingh.co.za/contact-us
Reference: I am inspired by pioneers in Naturopathy, Dr Paul Braggs, Dr Henry Lindlahr, Professor Arnold Ehret, Dr P Airola and the Dean of the University where I am studying, Dr Mark Dargan Smith.