Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Healthy Fasting Part 1

Fasting has been a means of spiritual, mental and physical purification in most every religious tradition as far back as we can trace including Christianity, Judaism, Muslim, Native American religions and many others.

Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic health traditions have embraced fasting for centuries as a means of cleansing the body-mind-spirit.  Ours is a culture of excess with little experience of deprivation.  Fasting for one who has not had the experience can be healing and liberating in many ways.  My personal experiences with 7-10 day fasts have proven to be quite valuable, regulating and health-restoring.

Fasting has many health benefits:

1.  It gives the digestive system a much-needed break.  Especially when there is gastric irritation including Crohns disease, colitis, leaky-gut or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). 

2.  Digestion demands a great deal of energy.  Fasting frees that energy, known as Gu Qi in Chinese Medicine for healing of all organ systems and bodily processes including eliminating phlegm and acid.

3.  Fasting provides clarity of mind and a sense of lightness and improves mood.

4.  Fasting is remarkably helpful at aiding detoxification of the body.

5.  Fasting increases energy and often resolves fatigue.

6.  Fasting for at least 48 hours resets all body processes including hunger, peristalsis, blood sugar and metabolism. Fat is lost, yes, but more importantly it helps the body reach homeostasis for the long term.

*Special note:  Children, pregnant, and breastfeeding women should not fast.  Nor should insulin-dependant diabetics or those with dramatically high blood pressure fast.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Healthy Fasting where I will discuss the different types of fasts and best times to fast as well as which is best for each of us.

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