Fasting is said to be a multidimensional experience in which total body transformation occurs. Many religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Eastern religions used and still use fasting as a healing process for spiritual purification and communion with God. Philosophers, scientists, and physicians have used it as a healing process to cure illnesses.
Nowadays, besides its religious and healing connotations, fasting has become very popular amongst women through those super-restrictive eating plans that are linked to Angelina Jolie or Gwyneth Paltrow. For instance, Beyonce Knowles attributed her 20-pound weight loss for the movie “Dreamgirls” to the Master Cleanse - a starvation diet whose adherents swallow nothing but a concoction of lemon juice mixed with maple syrup, water and cayenne pepper, as well as salt water and a laxative tea for 10 days.
It’s true, fasting has its benefits, such as a heightened spiritual awareness and relaxation of the body, mind, and emotions. Many people feel no pain and develop a positive attitude towards present. During fasting, the body is able to clean out its system because it is not expending energy towards the digestive organs. The blood and lymph are detoxified. When fasting, the release of toxins from the colon, kidneys, bladder, lungs, sinuses, and skin clears out complications that have arisen from a bad diet and unhealthy lifestyle.
However, fasting has fewer advantages than disadvantages and most people don’t know how dangerous fasting is. It affects not only our physical being, but our mental, emotional, and spiritual self as well. But why and how it endangers our health whilst some scientists say it will do us good? Well, let’s see… Because of the lack of glucose consumed, the liver converts glycogen stores into glucose and energy. The brain and the central nervous system need direct glucose, so they must get it either from the breakdown of proteins or fatty acids. The body resists breaking down the proteins, so fatty acids, after being converted into ketones, become the primary source of energy. Ketosis is subdued by drinking plenty of fruit juices, which provide simple carbohydrates for energy and cellular functioning.
Some diets restrict all solid foods and instruct dieters to survive on only low-calorie beverages for days at a time. The Joshi holistic diet involves an elaborate list of so-called acid-forming foods to avoid for three weeks, including seemingly healthy vegetables and cereals.
If you decide to follow such a diet or to fast for detox your body or for any other reasons, you should think twice and consider the side-effects: headaches, nausea, and muscle aches. Everyone responds to detoxification differently, depending on the level of toxicity in the body. While one person’s body becomes sick immediately after beginning a fast, another person may feel energized and renewed. These side effects include a drop in blood pressure, a persistent cold, and acute emotional distress. Still, depriving the body of the vitamins and minerals you get from food weak the body’s ability to fight infections and inflammation.
A prolonged fast/diet can lead to anemia, impairment of liver function, kidney stones, mineral imbalances, and other undesirable side effects. Deaths due to prolonged fasting have occurred, usually in people who believe this would “purify” their body or cure them of some disease.
Moreover, for people with diabetes taking certain tablets and/or insulin to manage their condition, the dangers are much higher. If you are a diabetic and you are intending to fast, you should attend your diabetes clinic for an assessment of your current level of diabetes control because the greatest danger is that of hypoglycemia. There is also the danger of the blood glucose level becoming too high when normal levels of medication are not taken. This can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a condition requiring hospital admission.
Therefore, you should pay attention to what you eat and how you eat and try to avoid fasting as much as you can. Always remember that health is more important than silhouette, sicknesses have medical cures and you don’t have to starve yourself to death for that. And if you are a religious person in search for divine communion or Nirvana, well… maybe your faith is stronger than your health.