Posted on : July 26, 2022 by Clinic One Team on Diet and Nutrition
Fasting means staying without eating or sometimes without drinking for a certain period of time. The length and way of fasting are variable from place to place or religion and so are the beliefs on the benefits of fasting.
In Nepal and India generally, women perform fasting for the long life of their husbands and for the prosperity of their families.
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History of Fasting
Ancient Greece is often crowned as the birthplace of fasting, although it was practiced worldwide by people with different religions.
In the 5th century, Hippocrates (father of medicine) suggested people avoid certain foods if they had poor health conditions.
In Nepal and India also, fasting has a very ancient history. Hindu religious books like Mahabharata have also mentioned fasting.
The first Chakravartin Samrat Chandragupta Maurya of Akhand Bharat also performed fasting till death (Sallekhana method) in around 297 B.C.
From ancient India till now all people of various religions living in South Asia perform various fasting (Barta) like Shrawan Sombarko Barta, Swasthaniko Barta, and many more.
In Nepal, there are many superstitious beliefs regarding fasting.
Many people believe that fasting will lead to a prosperous and long life for their family members but they don’t know about the real benefits they get from fasting.
They don’t know about the science behind fasting.
Most Hindu women think that fasting is good for their family members but in reality, it is good for themselves.
What is Fasting Today?
When westerners knew about the benefits of fasting then a concept named intermittent fasting grew in Europe in the late 20th century.
Intermittent fasting is a cycle between voluntary fasting and non-fasting over a period of time.
Intermittent fasting is very good for our health and can be performed in various ways like daily time-restricted feeding, periodic fasting, and alternate-day fasting.
Some people try intermitting fasting to address chronic conditions like arthritis, high cholesterol, etc and others use the method for weight management.
Intermitting fasting is not for everyone and it can’t be performed by:
- Children and teens under 18 years
- Women who are breastfeeding or pregnant
- People with a history of eating disorders.
Benefits of Fasting in Human Health
Fasting in a scientific way is very beneficial for human health. There are many benefits of fasting and some of them are:
- It helps to maintain your body weight
- It keeps you away from various diseases like type 2 diabetes
- It is also believed that fasting helps to prevent cancer
- It also helps to reduce stress and inflammation of the body
- It can even increase the lifespan of the person
Seeing all these benefits of fasting, American Polymath Benjamin Franklin said that “The best of all medicines is resting and fasting.”
Side Effects of Fasting
Despite having many benefits it has some side effects like:
- Hunger and cravings
- Fatigue and low energy
Precautions and Prevention
It is clear that timely fasting or a scientific way of fasting is the best way to keep ourselves healthy but fasting in an unsystematic way can be hazardous to our health.
Some of them are:
- In Nepal during Teej, many Nepalese women fast without drinking water for a whole day which can have an ill effect on some people in the future.
- If you are suffering from any kind of health problem/condition, you must consult with a doctor or dietitian before making any changes in your diet.
- You must take sufficient amounts of protein and water to prevent yourself from side effects of fasting like malnutrition and dehydration.
- If you feel fatigued, have severe headaches, or lack sleep then you should discontinue fasting and can again continue it when you are healthy after consulting with your doctor.
- If you don’t follow a scientific method of fasting, it can have an adverse effect on your metabolism (digestion).
Hence it is clear that if you perform fasting properly then it is the best medicine for all kinds of diseases but fasting in an unsystematic way then it can be dangerous to your health.
So, you should consult with your doctor before performing any kind of fasting.
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