Are There Health Benefits to Fasting?
Fasting – isn’t that starvation?
No. Fasting differs from starvation in one crucial way. Control. Starvation is the involuntary absence of food. It is neither deliberate nor controlled. Fasting, on the other hand has practiced for centuries, for both religious and therapeutic reasons. It involves the voluntary abstinence from all substances, except pure water, for a certain period. While most healthy individuals can tolerate a one to three day fast on their own, fasts of a longer duration should take place with the supervision of a trained health care professional to coach you through the process.
While the goal of Chiropractic is to eliminate nerve interference, by creating normal motion within the spine, fasting from time to time has the potential to delay aging, help prevent and treat diseases while minimizing the side effects caused by poor food choices.
Critics of fasting argue that fasting starves the body and that regular sleeping and the periods between eating are enough to give the digestive system the rest it needs.
So…whom do we believe?
Studies conducted by Mark P. Mattson at the National Institute on Aging on mice concluded that fasting has beneficial effects on the aging process as well. Mattson said an earlier study found that mice that fasted every other day had extended life spans. A new experiment found the mice also did better in factors involved in diabetes and nerve damage in the brain similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers presented information at the 2014 American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions that fasting reduced cholesterol levels in pre-diabetic people over extended periods of time.
There are many books written that try to explain the science behind fasting. The problem with these books, is they tend to present only evidence supporting their point of view, while ignoring any contradicting evidence.
So some of the benefits associated with fasting may include;
- Provides the digestive system with a rest from its daily activities, just as we need to take a vacation from our jobs.
- Cleanses the body by eliminating harmful toxins.
- Allows the body a period of rest for meditation and spiritual development.
- Introduces a period of transition (i.e., weight loss, overcoming addictions, shift from meat eating to a vegetarian diet, etc.) to the body to gear up for it.
Of course, fasting is not advised for pregnant or nursing women, those with a life-threatening illness (cancer, AIDS), and those with diabetes or liver disease. Individuals on prescription medications should check with their doctors prior to initiating a fast.
Fasting may not be for everyone, but if you’re interested in discussing this or other options for cleansing your body, give us a call.
Dr Theo Blöte