At an elemental level, starvation is the ultimate way to lose weight and is in many ways the oppositeextreme to excess weight-gain through overeating. Few of us choose to starve – the situation is usually forced on us or we have a psychological disorder such as bulimia. The global problem is now overwhelmingly that of obesity following overeating, especially of processed foods that are high in fats and cholesterol. And the solution has been the explosive growth of the weight loss industry, which has come out with a plethora of ‘slimming diets’.
But what about the only proven way, what about fasting – which is a type of controlled starvation – as a way to weight loss control?
Fasting has been shrouded in mystical terms but has been shown in many cultures, religions and down many aeons, to be a way of connecting the physical, mental and spiritual components of our being in a direction of greater health and resilience. In the modern, scientific age, that which is difficult to quantify or requires an element of belief in things unseen, tends to be discarded or criticized. But increasingly, definite benefits are attributable by practitioners of fasting: enhanced immune-competence, longevity, general physical and mental health, as proven by measurements of standard markers for these. That and weight-loss too.
This does not mean that fasting is for everyone. First, as a general rule, all who are about to embark on a fast should visit their doctor and proceed according to his/her advice. In general, the following people are advised against fasting:
Who Should Not Fast
- Those with various anemias,
- The physically emaciated,
- Those prone to anorexia, bulimia, or other behavioral disorders,
- Those with tumors, ulcers, cancer, blood diseases, or who have heart disease,
- Those with kidney, liver, lung, heart, or other serious diseases,
- Women who are pregnant or lactating.
Types of Fasts
There are 3 types:
- Absolute fasts: where no food or water are consumed
- Fluid fasts: where only water or other fluids are consumed
- Daniel fasts: when only fruit and vegetables are consumed, and meat is avoided
What Happens to You During a Fast
The benefits of fasting actually kick in on about the third day and initially affect the body before the mind and spirit can be freed to reap their own benefits.
- Fasting Detoxifies the Body: In a very selective way, the 3rd day of a fast ushers in a process of ‘burning the rubbish’, which is when autolysis or self- destruction begins. And at the top of the list for internal destruction are dead, diseased, sick, or abnormal cells. For the remaining cells a process whereby cell memory craving is erased. This means that food and other addictions can be eliminated and new constructive habits begun. This is only true if fasting becomes a regular, say weekly or monthly habit. A shedding of excess mass follows naturally.
- Fasting Strengthens the Spirit: And as the targeted cells are being autolysed, the spiritual benefits begin to kick in, such as peace, focus and proximity to the Infinite. These benefits are especially strong as we meditate, pray and contemplate the fact that we are spirits undergoing a physical experience during the fast and thereafter.
- Fasting Clears the Mind: Cognitive clarity follows, things are put in their proper perspective, and proper prioritisation follows.
- Fasting Rests the Digestive System: Fluid and absolute fasts have been shown to rest the digestive tract in that what is imbibed is absorbed directly into the bloodstream without requiring the ‘assistance’ of digestive secretions from the stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, liver, and small bowel. When this happens, weight-loss and its control is an almost by-the-way thing. A by-product.
The human body seems to have been engineered to require periods of rest in order to maintain predictably high levels of performance. We don’t question resting after work, or after strenuous physical activity or exercise, but most of us mindlessly disallow our digestive system any time of rest except briefly when we sleep. In the modern context, overeating means you are in touch and contemporary. Millions are being spent daily urging people to eat chocolate, fried chicken, tacos, chips, hamburgers, fries, steaks and other foods, not to mention numerous drinks which do us no good: urgings which are being faithfully followed by the majority. The message is clear, it is that we have to engage the synergies of our totality if we want the best mental, physical and spiritual health. These synergies are most effectively stimulated by regular fasting as a way of life.