If you haven’t heard seen the countless articles and heard the many debates regarding the potential benefits of fasting, you may have lived under a rock in recent years! A topic that has dominated social media, medical health professionals and dieticians are now weighing in on their opinions. Should we be factoring fasting into our regular routine?
This is far from a new trend, dating back throughout many cultures and generations. The earliest documentation relating to the practice of fasting dates back to the time of Hippocrates, approximately 460-370 BC. At this time, Hippocrates himself stated, “To eat when you are sick, is to feed your illness.” The ancient Greeks believe that rather that they could actively starve the various diseases and illnesses that they faced. More than just a belief system, this played upon a biological reaction wired into any of us. It is for this reason that, when faced with disease or illness, we often experience a decrease in our appetite.
There have been many studies and investigations focused on better understanding the potential benefits and repercussions of fasting, both intermittent and long-term. As metabolic expert Dr. Deborah Wexler, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes and associate professor at Harvard Medical School explained, “There is evidence to suggest that the circadian rhythm fasting approach, where meals are restricted to an eight to 10-hour period of the daytime, is effective.” For this reason, she recommends that people “use an eating approach that works for them and is sustainable to them.”
In short, if you know that you are going to fail in your attempts to engage in a longer period of fasting, it may not be the best approach for your overall health and well-being. Instead, try starting with a shorter period of time. Most fasts, as described in these articles, last a 24-72 hour period, but that doesn’t mean you need to jump into this level of fasting right away. Try starting with just 8 hours and work up from there if necessary. After all, failing entirely is far less beneficial than a shorter yet effective period.
Today’s diet, driven by your fast-paced, high-demand society, is full of preservatives and processed foods. Introducing these toxins and chemicals into our system leads to many side effects. The action of fasting helps to reduce these effects, and with it, it introduces a number of great benefits including better blood sugar control, decreased inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, improved brain function, boosted metabolism, and more. Are you willing to make a change in your daily habits if it could bring a long list of physical benefits like this? What do you have to lose?
One specific fasting trend, known as ‘dry fasting’, refers to the process of abstaining from both food and water for a period of time. While this may seem excessive, those who support the practice say that it comes with an even greater list of benefits. As Dr. Sergei Ivanovich Filonov author of ‘Dry Medical Fasting: Myths and Reality’ explains, when engaging in dry fasting the body actually switches to a process of intense and focused body cleansing, ridding itself of old, sick and dying cells. In doing so, it promotes the growth of new, healthier cells, improving our overall health and well-being.
Whether you are looking to introduce a fasting routine in your daily habits, or merely interested in obtaining more information, it is recommended that we all take the time to do our research. This ancient practice may just offer the benefits that you are looking for today!