Fasting–Are There Health Benefits?
Many chiropractors and other natural healing disciplines suggest fasting from time to time as a means to cleanse the body and rid it of toxins so it functions better. Critics of fasting say that it starves the body and that regular sleeping and periods in between eating are enough to give the digestive system the rest it needs. So…whom do we believe?
Fasting has been practiced for centuries, for both religious and therapeutic reasons, and is well documented in Biblical accounts. It involves the voluntary abstinence from all substances, except pure water, for a certain period. While most healthy individuals can tolerate a one to three-day fast on their own, fasts of a longer duration should take place with the supervision of a trained health care professional to coach you through the process.
Benefits associated with fasting include:
- Provides the digestive system with a rest from its daily activities, just as we need to take a vacation from our jobs.
- Cleanses the body by eliminating harmful toxins
- Allows the body a period of rest for meditation and spiritual development
- Introduces a period of transition (i.e., weight loss, overcoming addictions, shift from meat eating to vegetarian diet, etc.) to the body to gear up for it
Of course, fasting is not advised for pregnant or nursing women, those with a life-threatening illness (cancer, AIDS), and those with diabetes or liver disease; individuals on prescription medications need to check with their doctors prior to initiating a fast.
Studies conducted by Mark P. Mattson at the U.S. National Institute on Aging on mice concluded that fasting has beneficial effects on the aging process as well. Mattson said an earlier study found that mice that fasted every other day had extended life spans and a new experiment found the mice also did better in factors involved in diabetes and nerve damage in the brain similar to Alzheimer’s disease. Apparently, the cells of the body respond to fasting by increasing their ability to handle even more stress, responding with an attitude of “that which does not kill us makes us stronger!”
Find out more and get your questions answered by scheduling a chiropractic checkup. Discover what you should eat before your fast and your first meal after ending your fast.