Fasting has been around for thousands of years. It is the oldest and some say, the most effective natural healing therapy for our physical, mental and emotional ailments. It does something to our bodies, minds and spirits that no other remedy does. It's quite literal, life-changing – transformational medicine in it's purest form.
Fasting plays a part is every religion on earth. Buddha, Jesus, Moses, Elijah and Mohammed all fasted to purify their bodies and minds. The Sufis and the Essenes both used it extensively. Many indigenous cultures such as the Native Americans value fasting. Socrates, Plato, Galen, Aristotle, Paracelsus and Hippocrates the father of medicine all advocated abstaining from food and used fasting therapeutically.
Have you ever been sick and simply not wanted to eat? In fact, has the thought of food been quite a turn-off and the farthest thing from your mind? That is your body naturally fasting, naturally negating the drive to eat because food is not the best thing for you at this particular time. Have you ever had a pet that has refused to eat? This is their way of encouraging the healing process – an instinctual knowledge that the body has more important things to do than digest right now.
Fasting is precious time that we give to our internal organs to breathe out, have a break, relax, recharge and restore. We do the same for our mind when we go on holiday or get a massage. Why not give our body the occasional break too?
Have you ever considered fast? What do you think would happen if you simply did not eat food for a while? What do you think would change? How do you think you would feel? Here's a brief overview of fasting designed to inform and sometimes inspire a fast journey of your own. You certainly will not regret it and will be amazed by your body's inherent ability to heal and the insights you gain on so many levels.
What is fasting?
The word "fast" itself give us a clue. By avoiding food or certain types of food for a time we literately speed up the natural detoxification and cleansing process that is occurring constantly in our body and we speed up cellular renewal and regeneration. So a fast is a cure, a remedy and a therapeutic action. In the purest sense of the word, fast returns to total absence from all food, whether it's 40 days or 10 days or even 1 day. In more modern times fasting can also refer to limiting particular food intake or perhaps eating only one type of food or taking fresh fruit and vegetable juices only. There are so many different types of fasts and internal cleanses to choose from and you can tailor them to suit your individual needs. You can even do a simple cleanse by avoiding all alcohol, dairy, caffeine and processed food and drinking more water if you like, this alone will have an extremely beneficial effect on your body.
Why should I fast?
Good question and there are as many reasons as their people are on the planet. Some fast to cure cancer or diabetes. Some fast for weight loss. Some fast for detoxification and to improve liver function. Some fast as preventative medicine. Some fast for chronic skin conditions or digestive complaints. Some fast for self-realization. In my own recent 40 day fast my intentions were to simply get more in touch with the internal functioning of my body and mind, to lessen my emotional attachment to certain foods (think potato chips and chocolate) and to rekindle my fascination for the healing properties Of food we eat daily. For me and many others, fast is a way to look at our habits when it comes to food consumption and reassess our diet. It allows us to keep what is working and get rid of what is not. It also allows us to clearly identify the moments we confuse cravings and comfort eating with the nutrients the body and mind really need.
Fasting has been used successfully to treat the following: colds, flu and respiratory symptoms, headaches, reproductive system issues, allergies, skin conditions, ulcers, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, mental illness, epilepsy, obesity, Back pain, indigestion, dirrhea, constipation and insomnia.
Fasting promotes purification, clear skin, anti-aging, reduction in allergies, improved immune system function, change of habits, better sleep, greater ability to relax, more energy and clarity of focus, rest for the digestive system, improved sense of smell, Taste, hearing and vision, dietary changes, creativity, new ideas, inspiration, better attitude, spiritual awareness and right use of will. Pretty cool huh?
Who should not fast?
As with any changes is health you are thinking about making there are always considerations. For the following group of people fasting is not recommended without under the careful guidance of an experienced health professional: pregnant women, underweight people or those with serious physical and mental degeneration and those with major nutritional deficiencies.
How do I fast?
Fasting can be a controversial topic and there are many schools of thought on the best way to do it. Here are four steps to follow to start your journey:
- Educate yourself on the best possible fast for your body and your lifestyle – you are unique and what works for another may not work for you. Seeing an experienced health professional who listens and who wants to guide and support you through your fast is highly recommended.
- Choose a suitable time. Winter is never recommended as it is a natural storage and rest time for your body. Other than that, the change of seasons is always good (out with old and in with the new!). Lighten your schedule if you can while you fast.
- Begin and plan your fast. The reality of you having nothing to do but nurture yourself is pretty thin unless you go on a retreat of some sort so making a start is the most important thing. Be easy on yourself. You will experience rapid change that may surprise you but the results and how you will feel after your fast will blow you away. Make sure you've prepared and have everything you need as going to a supermarket may not be high on your priorities.
- Listen to your body. It will clearly tell you if what you are doing is working or not. Surround yourself with supportive people, give yourself some time to go through the initial detox symptoms (very commonly some degree of discomfort, headaches, bowel change, fatigue and irritability for the 3-5 days) Know you are doing an amazing thing for your body And mind that will change your whole experience of health.
There is much, much more to say about fast and the correct way to do it. Thousands of years worth of study in fact! We have simply scraped the surface. With everything in relation to health this is about you. How do you choose to take responsibility for your body, mind and emotions? Fasting is nature's doctor and is one extremely practical and effective way to achieve better health, more energy and greater passion and clarity for the gift of life.