Fasting is an age old practice and is usually performed as a religious obligation. It is said that fasting is way to cleanse and purify the body, it is considered to be an act of sacrifice. It is even believed that fasting seeks closer intimacy with God. While others, use fasting as a means to reduce weight, in case of obesity and also as a part of certain medical tests. Some people find it to be a part of a person's discipline which helps in achieving mental clarity. People may fast on occasions, to abide to their religious beliefs or may fast on regular basis, just as a part of a diet routine. By this you may understand that fasting is not purely based on science or spiritual belief, it is an individual choice.
Fasting results in weight loss and also cleanses the body of all the toxins. It is the reduction in the intake of food and drinks for a period of time. Fasting may be for a few hours, half a day, whole day, for a week or for a month. Though, it sounds simple and exciting, in reality it is hard. It is hard not in terms of practicing it but, to make sure if your body has all the vitamins and minerals required to make this fasting a safe one. It is difficult to resist food and once you reach the edge, you may begin to miss your meals. Read to know how to go about safe fasting.
TYPES OF FASTING
There are numerous types of fasting and each of the fasting has something beneficial to offer. A person can opt for one of the types of fasting based on his health issue, lifestyle, goal etc.
Dry fasting is the most extreme type of fasting, in which a person considers foregoing food as well as water or a period of time.
As the name implies, liquid fasting is a type of fasting in which the person only lives on liquids. Liquid fasting consists of two types.
- Water fasting: It offers the highest level of therapeutic benefit, in a short period of time. In this fasting, detoxification occurs more quickly. Though the benefits are high, it is difficult to commit to it.
- Juice fasting: It is a type of liquid fasting and offers high amount of nutritional support in a natural way. Almost any fruit or vegetable can be juiced and you can make your own drink mixing 2 to 3 fruits and vegetables, if you choose to opt for juice fasting.
Partial fasting is also called as selective fasting. Partial fasting includes solid food, from very little to a lot. This type of fasting does not emphasize on the amount, but, the exclusion of certain foods which makes it partial fasting.
STEPS TO FOLLOW SAFE FASTING
Once you decide to fast, you may notice your loved ones repeatedly informing you to protect your health. It is true; it is important and essential to follow the guidelines before fasting.
Step 1: Consult a doctor
Consult your doctor before you begin your fast. It is better to undergo a physical examination in order to make sure, you are in good health. In case you are under some medications, it is wise to inform the doctor before you plan to change your regime. If your doctor identifies a problem which puts you in a red zone, it is not advisable to opt for fasting as it may turn out to be dangerous for your health. If your doctor confirms your good health, you can get ready to begin your fast.
In spite of following the safety measures for fasting, there are few people who should not fast without professional supervision.
- People who are not well built, too thin and physically weak.
- People who are prone to eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia.
- Individuals who suffer from anemia or weakness.
- People suffering from heart diseases, bleeding ulcers, cancer, blood diseases etc.
- Individuals suffering from chronic conditions like kidney disorder, lung, liver, heart disorder etc.
- People suffering from high blood sugar level.
- Pregnant or lactating women
Step 2: Try a type of diet
Once you are assured of your good health, go ahead and prepare for your fast. Preparing yourself before a fast is very important in order to prevent the occurrence of detox symptoms which may discomfort you. Prepare a diet plan or choose one of the types of fasting from above. Choose a plan that suite your lifestyle and responsibilities or you may not be able to complete the fast duration.
Weigh the options and take an honest look at yourself to see how much you can sacrifice. Proper cleansing of the body requires lot more dedication. But, do not overdo, see how comfortable you are willing to be and how much you can tolerate? Try fasting for half a day to see how it feels as detoxing occurs more gradually. Eat nutritious, high-fiber and high-protein food once you break your fast. Once you are habituated to this fasting routine you will understand when to break your fast.
Step 3: Check the duration
The two essential rules of fasting, which when broken can be life threatening.
The first is the duration of time. The duration of fasting is important and to begin with, try limiting yourself to 12 hours of eating and 12 hours of fasting. Once you get adjusted to this routine, you may now increase the hours of fasting.
During this period, two main processes go on simultaneously while fasting.
- The toxins from the body get dissolved and eliminated
- The body's stored nutritional reserve gets exhausted
The body first eliminates the toxins from the body and due to starvation; it melts all the stored fat and nutrition in order to provide the body, the energy it requires. This is how the body loses its fat and you may achieve weight loss. Once your body gets rid of all the toxins, your fasting will be effective, without any side effects.
A well-fed healthy body usually has enough stored nutrients to provide energy to carry out its normal functioning and therefore fasting can go on for a longer time. You can fast until your body uses up all the stored nutrients. Once the stored nutrients are exhausted, you will have to end your fast. If you continue fasting beyond this point, starvation begins and can lead to serious conditions. But, almost everyone have enough stored nutrition in the body to fast for 2 weeks to 10 days.
The second main concern is the release of toxic substances from the body as a part of cleansing. In some people, the toxic substance released may be highly poisonous which may increase the risk of damaging the organs in the body. To avoid such discomfort, it is better to detoxify the body by having plenty of fruits and vegetables, a month before fasting. This will significantly eliminate all the toxins and fasting will be more effective.
Step 4: Drink plenty of water
Drink plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated. During your fasting period, you may experience a drop in your stamina and energy levels. Drink up to 8 glasses of water while you fast as it helps in flushing out all the toxins from the body and will also provide the energy you require. Water refreshes, revitalizes and rejuvenates your body. Dehydration will make you weak, tired and hungry, therefore drink plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated.
Step 5: End your fast in a healthy way
Experts agree that "breaking the fast" is the most difficult part of fasting. At the end of fasting, your body now has got accustomed to a routine. While your body is in a dormant state, the intestines are idle and therefore your stomach shrinks. In this case, solid food must be reintroduced gradually and slowly. You may experience discomfort and may suffer from kidney failure or digestive distress, if this process is not carried out carefully. This transition from resting to normal phase should take place in a very slow and gradual manner; therefore choose a healthy diet to get back to routine.
Eat smart and choose a healthy diet. Say no to junk food and keep your body fit and healthy. This Shivrathri, enjoy a safe fasting.