Fasting, many believes it as skipping food for some reasons or other. In medical terms, Fasting is the term refers to “voluntarily abstinence from eating for varying lengths of time.” In various systems of medication and therapies, the wondrous benefits of fasting are realized, specially in Ayurveda system of Medicine as the method of cleansing.
Fasting is inclined to religious practices, carrying a harmonious relationship with spirituality. It connects the body with soul. It is generally seen as a vital practice inclined with spirituality. In many customs and religious practices, it is followed as a traditional ritual. Especially, in Hinduism, many festivals include fasting as a staple practice among many rituals. Fasting is also associated to attain the boons from the superior power, God. In olden days to current hi-tech world, fasting is widely associated to serve god and offer prayers. Fasting has a lot of potential untold and unknown benefits. In ancient days, saints and yogis used to fast.
Fasting in Ayurveda
Fasting is more commonly recommended as a simple therapy to cure from simple to severe health ailments. In Ayurveda, fasting is regarded one of the milestones with a huge list of therapeutically benefits in achieving the desired health. The ancient medication, Ayurveda has elaborated the therapeutics effects of fasting in extensive and comprehensive manner. Fasting is a key practice to boost the efficacy of detox therapy, Panchakarma.
Fasting in Modern medicine
The benefits of fasting is understood by Western medicine and in modern medicine, many physicians recommend the patients to fast. The father of Western Medicine, Hippocrates, states fasting is the path to rejuvenate the body to improve the capabilities of self-healing. Proven to have emerged as spiritual nature, modern medicine acclaimed fasting as one of the greatest therapeutic remedies and an inborn physician found within the body.
Everything has to be followed religiously to attain the fullest benefits. Ayurveda has laid down several rules and principles on fasting.
Procedure – How to Fast?
Fasting is generally practiced in varying lengths. While a few people fast for a whole day without consuming foods, a few fast either in the morning or in the evening, skips a major meal of a day. People who fast tend to drink a lot of liquids. Yet there are few who fast eating or drinking nothing, except water.
Long day fast is not recommended in Ayurveda, as long as a person can survive a day without foods. Vigorous fasts bring imbalances in the body and doshas which invites many diseases. Fasting is meant to balance the body, balance the dosha, rest the internal organs and digestive system etc.
One day fast, a mild fast in a week is recommended by Ayurveda. You should eat mild and light foods, most probably stick to fruits, milk, porridge and water. When it comes to quantity of foods, you should eat in such a way that you feel hungry between the meals.
Remember not to starve all the day, as you will obviously think all the day about foods but drink plenty of fluids. This psychological feeling reduces the effect of fasting, where you will end up eating a huge amount of foods.
Simple steps on how to fast?
- Determine the reason why you fast, as fasting is recommended for various benefits.
- Prepare yourself physically and mentally to fast – Check with your physician to identify the possible effects (if you have any diseases) or risks involved
- Keep yourself hydrated with drinking lots of water
- Keep your home and kitchen intact with your fast – Don’t load the unhealthy or tempting snacks and foods in kitchen, rather stockup in your home
- Always start it simple. Initially, you can fast for a few hours, skipping the mid-day meal or dinner.
- Stop when you find something wrong in your body.
Break the fast with fresh fruit juice to receive the nutrition immediately. Also, eat a light and easily digestible food after fasting. Loading your stomach with too much food, causes indigestion as the digestive fire is disturbed.
Regular eating reduces the functions Agni, the digestive fire, which aids in digestion of foods, assists in normal functioning of integral organs. When you skip a meal, your internal organs gets some rest from regular work and automatically improves in functioning.
Temptation to snack on something is different from the hunger feeling. Many times, thirst is mistaken as hungry. Remember that when you feel bored, you will gain the temptation to munch on something. This hungry or tempted feeling to eating something on the day you fast imply that the digestive fire, called the Agni is gaining strength. When you don’t give work to your internal organs, by eating foods regularly, the digestive fire, Agni starts cleansing the internal organs. It removes the toxic effects, Ama from your body. So, whenever you feel hungry when fasting, drink a cup of hot water to improve the cleansing effects of Agni.
Healthy fasting improves clarity of mind, makes your body light, and enhances the energy. The detox benefits improves the radiance of the skin, aids in losing weight, burning fat and totally rejuvenate your body.
Fasting is not for all. Those who just recovered from trauma should not fast. Elderly people should not observe a long day fast. Also, those who suffer from any terminal, degenerative disorders should not fast, especially type 1 diabetics. People of vata personality are also not suitable for fasting but it is recommended for Kapha personality. Others who should not fast include:
- Feeding mothers
- Pregnant women
- Anemic patients
Fasting in according to three doshas is crucial. The factors that influence fasting include type of foods we eat, quantity, climate, and length of fast.