|Natural Health Yellow Pages
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. Concerning that from which one fasts, and the period of fasting, a fast may be total or partial. It may be observed unbroken for many uninterrupted days, or be observed only for certain periods during the day, as is the Muslim practice during the holy month of Ramadan. Depending on the tradition, fasting practices may preclude sexual activity as well as food, in addition to refraining from eating certain types or groups of foods; for example, one might refrain from eating meat. Medical fasting can be a way to promote detoxification.
Fasting for religious and spiritual reasons has been a part of human custom since pre-history. It is mentioned in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testament, the Qur'an, the Mahabharata, and the Upanishads. Fasting is also practiced in many other religious traditions and spiritual practices.
Fasting is also used in a medical context to refer to the state achieved after digestion of a meal. A number of metabolic adjustments occur during fasting and many medical diagnostic tests are standardized for fasting conditions. For most medical purposes a person is assumed to be fasting after 8-12 hours. A diagnostic fast refers to prolonged fasting (from 8-72 hours depending on age) conducted under medical observation for investigation of a problem, usually hypoglycemia. Fasting has occasionally been recommended as a therapeutic intervention by physicians of many cultures, though it is uncommonly resorted to for this purpose by modern doctors.
People can also fast for medical reasons, which has been an accepted practice for many years. One reason is to prepare for surgery or other procedures that require anesthetic. Because the presence of food in a person's system can cause complications during anesthesia, medical personnel strongly suggest that their patients fast for several hours (or overnight) before the procedure.
Another reason for medical fasting is for certain medical tests, such as cholesterol testing (lipid panel). People are often asked to fast so that a baseline can be established. In the case of cholesterol, the failure to fast for a full 12 hours (including vitamins) will guarantee an elevated Triglyceride measurement.
A longer fast for health reasons typically lasts a week or longer and includes some food intake, such as fruit or vegetable juices, as part of a detox diet.
Some doctors believe that pure water fasting can not only detoxify cells and rejuvenate organs, but can actually cure such diseases and conditions as cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colitis, psoriasis, lupus and some other autoimmune disorders when combined with a healthy diet. They believe that "Fasting is Nature's Restorer."
Recent studies on mice show that fasting every other day while eating double the normal amount of food on non-fasting days led to improved insulin and blood sugar control, neuronal resistance to injury, and health indicators superior to mice on 40% calorie restricted diets.Alternate day calorie restriction may prolong lifespan and causes diseases associated with inflammation, oxidative stress and aging to attenuate.
People near the end of their lives sometimes consciously refuse food and/or water. The term in the medical literature is patient refusal of nutrition and hydration.
In natural medicine, fasting is seen as a way of cleansing the body of toxins and dead or diseased tissues, and giving the gastro-intestinal system a rest. Such fasts are either water-only, or consist of fruit and vegetable juices. Some results have been achieved while including fasting in the treatment of some kinds of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and allergies