In many instances, when fasting is mentioned, people think of it as a religious exercise. They recognize it as a means of getting in better spiritual connection with God. Many religions use fasting for this purpose.
The most popular, well-known fast that I can recall is the forty (40) day fast in the wilderness that Jesus went through. It was ended by a temptation from the devil that appealed to His – Christ’s – appetite. In spite of His intense hunger, Jesus resisted the temptation and overcame the devil.
He quoted for the devil some words that He Himself had made famous through Moses in Deuteronomy 8:3 ” man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”.
Did you know that you could fast for good health? Yes, it is possible and with the right approach, it can be done.
What is fasting
Fasting is the turning away from food and at times drink for a specified period. It is usually for spiritual purposes with little or no consideration given to the physical benefits.
Some refuse to fast. They think that death would occur if food is not eaten for a day. You hear them complain of headaches and stomach aches anytime they miss a meal.
However, there are real physical benefits that come with fasting, for the sacrifice of food allows the stomach to rest and recuperate. At the same time cleansing of the system can take place and the mind/brain is better energized to think more clearly. This is because much more oxygenated blood is available to it since it – the blood – can be diverted from the stomach.
Clearer thinking leads to better understanding of an issue and therefore better decision-making. It is no coincidence that many business deals are made over a meal followed by a drink or more of alcohol.
The mind is impaired by both the food and more so the addition of alcohol to the stomach. The brain is over taxed, critical thinking jeopardize and choices made that would have been different had the mind been left free to process the information supplied.
Abstinence for good health
Overeating and obesity is an epidemic in the world today. People eat for everything and on almost every occasion. When there is a wedding – they eat, a funeral – they eat, a birthday party – they eat.
There was a time when one of the rules of good health was – do not eat between meals. Today parents pack snacks in the ‘lunch’ bags/boxes of their children. If it is absent the child, unless properly trained by the parent, is influenced to believe that they are not receiving proper nutrition.
The snack is usually sugary, salty and loaded with chemicals that result in hyperactivity in the child and provide no nourishment. Years later the true effects of those snacks manifest themselves in various diseases.
One friend of mine said that a lot of people live on a “see food” diet; they see food and they eat it. No matter what it is. If we intend to live healthy, we cannot be on such a diet.
Fasting, done properly and under trained supervision, may prove effective in breaking a fever and bringing it under control. With hydrotherapy to supplement the treatment.
Different types of fasts
People fast differently and sometimes just to prove that they can keep their appetite under control. This has resulted in different methods of fasting with each bringing varied results. These are based mainly on the outcome the individual is seeking. So here are a few types of fast that can be considered.
- Juice fast – the use of fresh fruit or vegetable juice for a period. This is usually done by making use of a good juicer that not only extracts the juice but crushes the fiber enough to make it drinkable. Thus, it is able to do its work in the digestive system. A good juice fast is best carried out under trained supervision. Wisely used, a juice fast may prove very effective in relieving many health problems including auto-immune issues.
- Water fast – may be used safely each day to assist in that period of fasting that exists between meals. Instead of snacking, water may be utilized to give the feeling of satiety. It also ensures that the stomach can rest. A person can also choose this type of fast to ensure that he does not become dehydrated while abstaining from food.
- Partial fast – can be effective for persons who have never fasted before and are having doubts about their ability to do so. Instead of not eating at all, small, simple meals can be taken while skipping a meal or two for the day.
- Full/absolute fast – this is the complete putting away of all kinds of food and liquid. It is the ultimate fast and one that should not be taken lightly. It would be very wise for a person attempting such a fast for more than three days to seek proper medical supervision – even when such a fast is attempted for spiritual purposes. I know of someone who recently died on the 32nd day of a 40 absolute fast.
- Regular fast – is a schedule fast that takes place every week for a day or two. Persons seeking that extra spiritual boost usually use this fast. They avoid food for every other day or so while devoting their time to prayer and study of the scriptures.
- Fruit fast – may also prove very effective for people with various disease issues who need to stay away from processed foods. I have used this fast for internal healing and energy boost.
What to eat after a fast
It is critical that we eat the right type of food and get the proper liquids into our stomachs after a fast. Some people binge after a fast in what appears to be an attempt to make up for the meals they did not eat for the period.
The gains made during the fast are quickly reversed and can even worsen the health of the person if continued.
Properly breaking a fast is important, especially the absolute fast that went on for a long period.
It should be kept in mind that after such a fast, the stomach is empty and the body needs nourishment. Water should first be used for rehydration. Watermelon is great to break a fast. Remember that it is best used alone. As your stomach resumes its work, other fruit or vegetable juices can be introduced. Hold off on oranges and other citrus for a while.
As the stomach returns to its normal function other foods – nuts and grains can be added. Avoid using spices and highly seasoned foods immediately after a fast. Ideally, these would not be used at all for their effect upon the body is more an irritant than nutrition.
After a few days, the normal nutritious diet can be resumed unless you realize that there are foods that you need to eliminate for optimal health.
Turn down the pot
In my country of Trinidad and Tobago, when mango season comes around, there is a saying – “we turn down the pot”. It means that we would not be cooking for a while, that mangoes would be the main part of our meal if not the total meal.
That results in a fruit fast, although it may not be the best.
Fasting can be very meaningful both spiritually and physically for those who do it. It can prove
effective for both body and mind, allowing the stomach to rest and the body to cleanse itself of impurities.
At the same time, the absence of food in the stomach allows for a greater flow of fresh blood to the brain thus improving its functional capacity. Clearer thinking and wiser decisions may result.
Properly supervised fasting may also be effective in helping heal some diseases.
Little or no harm would come to the individual who occasionally participate in fasting. So on occasions, turn down the pot.