Many studies have shown there are significant benefits of fasting that have absolutely nothing to do with weight loss or dieting. Yet, many people often view fasting as a form of dieting, since food is restricted for short or long periods of time. Fasting is something each of us does naturally at night, when we’re asleep. The body is resting and without the work of digesting food, it has time to allow our bodies to repair, recover, and regenerate efficiently. This is why rest is so important, yet if we were to stay up eating half the night, we’d wake up tired and very ill the next morning. At night, our body has plenty of time without food to allow our cells to regenerate and renew themselves on a cellular level to produce energy the next day. There are also other forms of fasting like juice fasting, or fasting for periods during the day. Check out some below and by all means, never fast to lose weight. Do it to allow your body a time of rest and rejuvenation, not to lose 5 pounds by starving yourself. You should also never do a fast if you have medical conditions, or are prone to hypoglycemia. If you’re thinking about fasting, always follow a guided fast directed by a professional.
1. Spiritual Practices
One of the most well known benefits of fasting is for spiritual or religious purposes. Fasting is said to enhance one’s spiritual health since it allows for a break of concentrating on food and desires associated with food, in order to focus more on spiritual health. This actually has nothing to do with religion, though it can. It usually just means you’re allowing a break away from desires of the flesh to nurture your spirit instead. Meditations, prayers, and sometimes simple periods of silence accompany the fasting period. The times of this type of fast can vary from a day to a week or more, depending on the person (and religion where applicable).
As I mentioned, when the body isn’t digesting food, it’s working harder on a cellular level to repair and regenerate more efficiently. It also gives our digestive systems time to let go of stored toxins and wastes, and can be a great way to enhance detoxification. Some people allow for a day fast for this purpose, while others choose to go up to a week or more.
3. Breaking Food Addictions
Another benefit of fasting is it allows your body to withdraw from addictive foods like sugar, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, wheat and gluten, refined foods, fast food, and processed food. Many people use fasts as a way to break their addiction to a food and will consume only fresh fruits and vegetables as a form of their fast instead. This retrains the tastebuds to crave fresh, living, and more natural food. Fresh vegetables and fresh fruit juices may also be used during this type of fast. This is a good idea if you’re having a hard time letting go of foods that act like opiates in the brain, spurring addictive behaviors with food, such as sugar, dairy, and wheat.
During a fast, direct emphasis is given to plenty of time for rest. The purpose is to allow plenty of time for the body to heal since it has more time to do so when the work of digestion is not taking place. During a fast, you should be sure not to do any exercise outside of light walking for this purpose of rest and rejuvenation. Hot baths, saunas, plenty of sleep, and meditation are encouraged.
5. More Energy
Generally, the first three days of a fast are tough if done for a week or longer. Yet, usually, when someone comes off a fast, their energy is actually enhanced and higher than ever. This is because during fasting, rejuvenation of the cells allows for energy to be stored for further use. It can help us to do a fast once or twice a year for this purpose. Fasting can actually enhance your energy daily if you allow for 12 hours to pass after your dinner into the next day before your next meal. So for instance, if you eat dinner at 7 p.m., don’t eat breakfast until 7 a.m. or even 8 a.m. the next day. You’ll have more energy if you’re not eating late at night or when your feet first hit the floor in the morning. Generally, you want to eat around 3-4 hours before bed, and wait about 1 hour before eating the next morning if you can. This is the easiest way to fast on a daily basis to enhance your energy every day.
6. Easier Digestion
Let’s just be real here. When you don’t eat so often, everything else has plenty of time to clear out of your system better! In fact, though I’m a fan of snacks, I do think we can benefit from not snacking so much all the time on a daily basis. Eat snacks only when you’re truly hungry, not just to eat. One easy way to practice a fast each day is not to eat between lunch and dinner. This gives your body plenty of time to digest lunch, assimilate the nutrients, and excrete the wastes. This is a great way to ease digestion if you suffer bloating after meals, or you suffer from fatigue after eating. Sometimes our systems just get bogged down from too much food and need a little break!
7. Inner Growth
Believe it or not, fasting actually can help you grow as a person. It can teach you discipline, and how to do something for your body that’s not harmful like strict dieting or overexercising. Fasting is primarily about rest and lack of regular meals just happens to be part of that equation. Choose a fast that’s best suited for you that won’t leave you dizzy or ill. There are many kinds and not all require you to go without any food at all. Usually, vegetable juice fasts can provide you with plenty of vitamins and minerals, but one light, healthy meal during the day might be needed to keep you feeling your best. If you’re new to fasting, you’ll see how fasting can help you think more clearly, enhance your creativity, help you sleep better, get rid of toxic foods that aren't serving you, and the removal of addictive substances can even make you less moody, believe it or not. These are all tools to help you grow as a person. Life is more than food, and fasting can teach you to eat to live, not live to eat.
If you’ve ever done a helpful fast, I’d like to hear from you! There are many bad fasts out there, which is not what I’m suggesting anyone do. As I said, it’s always best to do a guided fast from a professional source.Have you ever done a fast?