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What are the Health Benefits of Fasting


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fasting with water

The health benefits of fasting are numerous, depending on the different kinds and duration of fasting. The myriad benefits of fasting include many physical, medical, and even spiritual advantages.

In my previous post – Prayer and Fasting for a Better Life, I had emphasized on the combined benefits of prayers and fasting, and it was interesting to know the opinions of the readers in their comments.

In that post I had mentioned the spiritual aspect of fasting, with no connection to its religious aspect. In fact, I never intended it to be a religious discussion and this post too is only about the health benefits of fasting, without any religious overtones.

However, I think I can mention that fasting is considered a ritual in many religions and cultures the world over, and it no doubt delivers its physical and medical benefits to the practitioners.

First, let’s define and understand what is fasting.

“Abstinence and fasting cure many a complaint.” ~ Danish proverb

What is Fasting?

Fasting in its true sense is the act of going without the consumption of food and beverages, except for water – for certain duration.

This duration may extend from a few hours to a few days. A strict form of fasting known as absolute fasting even prohibits the intake of water, along with abstinence from all kinds of food.

However, in this post I will discuss fasting that allows certain foods or beverages including water.

We all are familiar with, and in fact, do observe fasting daily without even noticing it!

Still thinking how? Well, we all stay almost without any food or water for many hours when we sleep at night, and we break that fast by eating breakfast when we wake up in the morning!

However, the fasting I that am talking about is consciously done when we’re not sleeping.

Sometimes we need to undergo fasts for short durations due to medical reasons, or to get some medical tests conducted.The fasting for medical test is less frequent and of a shorter duration than the other types of fasting that yield better health results.

“The best of all medicines is resting and fasting” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Fasting is not starvation. The process of fasting utilizes the unused and stored body fat and carbohydrate stores; however, when these get exhausted then you reach the state of starving, which is not healthy.

Why do People Fast?

People engage in fasting for various reasons. For some it is to achieve weight loss, to detoxify their body, while some fast to look younger or achieve wellness.

Many observe fasts for religious or spiritual reasons, but eventually they do experience physical benefits of fasting by these acts.

Some people even believe that human first discovered the physical benefits of fasting and later gave it a religious or spiritual cover.

Many people don’t even believe in fasting, and are very critical about the concept. They may’ve their own reasons and logic, based on the information they have about the methods and impacts of fasting.

However, when people do not observe fasts in the correct manner, the resulting problems add to the negative impression.

Here are some reasons and scientific explanations about why fasting is good for health.

Reasons for Fasting

Fasting has become more relevant in present times. Its need arises due to our incorrect way of eating, consumption of unhealthy food, and sedentary lifestyle.

Even if we have them all correct, our body systems still require taking a break to repair and recharge, especially our digestive system that takes a lot of beating.

The excess calories and toxin levels of the body both are reduced by fasting, which also helps to burn stored fats in the body and thus lead to weight loss for some people.

Scientists acknowledge that fasting involves the process of autolysis and ketosis that helps our body to use the stored body resources to provide energy.

If you feel you lack energy, have a difficulty in getting a good sleep, have an upset stomach, and feel the body skin is loosing its shine, then for these and many other reasons you need to try fasting.

Did you know that there are various types of fasting that many people observe? Take a look at the different kinds of fasting below:

What are the Different Kinds of Fasting?

Generally fasting is categorized on two bases – religious and non-religious fasting, which further have many types of fasting that differ with respect to prescribed duration and varying degrees of abstinence.

In both the above mentioned fasting there are partial fasts that ask for abstaining from certain beverages or foods, such as from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., or from sun up to sun down; and there are full fasts that are kept for the entire day or for 24 hours.

Some religious fasting includes dry fasting, which is nothing but absolute fasting. Whereas, liquid fasting is the one that is mostly patronized as non-religious fasting and is comparatively easier as one can at least drink water or juice.

Dry fasting is said to be more effective and considered equivalent to three days of liquid fasting. Nonetheless, any kind of fasting is known to have various health benefits.

I tried dry fasting or absolute fasting and found it tougher than liquid fasting. It hardly feels like fasting, as you keep sipping fluids all through the day.

Here are some types of liquid fasting along with their benefits:

Juice Fasting

It is one of the most popular types of fasting in the western world and popular with the modern generation. In this method of fasting, you can have the vegetable soups or fruit juices when you want.

There are many juice diet recipes and juice diet plans in the markets that support juice fasting.

There are no doubt many health benefits of juice fasting since fresh juices are enriched with mineral salts and vitamins, along with pure and natural nutritional support.

Water Fasting

Water fasting is the cheapest and most affordable way to heal and rejuvenate your body.

You need to plan a water fasting diet under expert guidance and start with partial fasts to achieve best water fasting results.

Drinking lots of water actually flushes out the toxin repository that stays in your stomach and intestines for a long time. Though it might sound simple, but it turns out to be tougher than juice fasting.

Intermittent Fasting

The latest fasting fad is the intermittent fasting. As clear from the term itself, this type of fasting requires you to start and stop fasting, on a semi regular basis.

This could mean that you eat on alternate days or fast on any two or three days of your choice in a week. This kind of fast is something that my husband loves doing, not for health reasons, but because he may be feeling extra full one day and wants a break the next day!

The intermittent fasting results are found to be better than any other diet plans. The benefits of intermittent fasting include loosing weight and keeping it under control, besides other medical benefits.

Other Types of Fasting

There are other alternatives to fasting, such as fruit fasting, lemon fasting, honey fasting and so on. Just replace the juice or plain water with a mixture of lemon juice and a table-spoon of honey in water, or decide to have a meal consisting only of fruits.

There are some variations of intermittent fasting that are popular such as Fast-5 and Leangains. These types of fasts actually consider breaking a day into pre-defined fasting and non-fasting periods. Some people who workout find Leangains diet to deliver better health benefits.

Benefits of Fasting

Fasting leads to better health. The health benefits of fasting can be seen from the various points mentioned below.

“Fasting is an effective and safe method of detoxifying the body. . .a technique that wise men have used for centuries to heal the sick. Fast regularly and help the body heal itself and stay well. Give all of your organs a rest. Fasting can help reverse the aging process, and if we use it correctly, we will live longer, happier lives.” ~ James Balch

Health Benefits of Fasting

The physical benefits of fasting towards the body are so many that it has become trendy these days to observe/keep fasts.

More people are trying regular fasting for better health with juice fasting and intermittent fasting. Mentioned below are few ways how fasting helps us:

1 – Providing rest to the body and system

The stomach and bowels are rested during a day of fasting, and the toxins (harmful substances) in the food and those produced by the body during the breakdown of foods we eat are thereby limited. This caloric rest has a mind clearing effect.

I remember the first time that I kept a fast, my system did feel rested and relaxed, which made me feel rather light and good.

2 – Detoxification or elimination of toxins

The food or diet we eat is mainly high in carbohydrate and calorie, which is reduced by fasting. Thus, with the toxins swept away and fats being burned, the people who fast often feel rejuvenated.

While fasting your body is detoxified, and usually a three-day fast is used as a standard means to detox that is generally recommended by nutritionists the world over.

There are many toxins that build up over the years in our bodies, which are eliminated during a fast.

3 - Reducing the risk of diseases

According to a recent study at the University of California, Berkeley, regular fasting can cut the risk of cardiovascular diseases, risk of cancer, insulin resistance, diabetes, immune disorders, and generally slows the aging process, thus increases the life span.

4 – Acting as a powerful therapeutic process

Fasting is also a powerful therapeutic process that may help people recover from various health conditions like asthma, degenerative and rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, uterine fibroids, benign tumors, and inflammatory bowel diseases to name a few.

It is also said to relieve the swelling of the joints, and water retention.

5 - Improving the system

Fasting is known to improve food allergies, digestion, speed up weight loss, and increase energy. It improves and enhances the immune function, leading to better health.

Those who fast have known to have improved mental clarity and focus, wake up feeling rested, sleep more soundly, have better moods, are more balanced emotionally, and are less anxious.

As a result of fasting your skin becomes soft, the diseased germs disappear, and all the organs of your body receive complete rest.

6 - Promoting balanced hormone levels

Fasting is known to promote balanced hormone levels and enhance the production of health promoting hormones (HGH), which helps growth in childhood and throughout life – thus resulting in better health.

7 - Changing eating habits and losing weight

Fasting is a great way to change your eating habits that most of us need to do, but if you intend slimming down or reducing your weight, fasting alone will not do that.

You may shed off a few kilos, but you will gain them right back unless you combine it with other changed patterns, or program of exercise and eating.

Many recent studies indicate various benefits of following a restricted diet, including increased insulin sensitivity, longer life span, and stress resistance that lead to better health.

Fasting Tips and Precautions

It is important to remember that fasting can only be fruitful and effective if it is done according to its rules.

Firstly, you have to go slow, make good preparations beforehand, and start with partial fasts. Otherwise, things can go awry leaving you feeling sick and in pain. It is wise to seek professional help before trying any kind of fasting.

I’ve mentioned some precautions that you must take when planning to observe a fast, though there could be many other useful fasting tips to make the fast successful as well.

But you need to understand that the health benefits of fasting can only be availed if it is done on a long-term basis.

Starting a Fast

  • For successful fasting, you need to stop eating any meat, stop drinking caffeinated drinks, and eat lots of fruits, 1 to 3 days before fasting.
  • You need to avoid drugs and other medications after permission from your physician, and exercise moderately for better health.
  • Rest as much as possible as the body needs rest to heal itself and grow, and be prepared for temporary mental discomforts like crankiness, impatience, stress, and anxiety.
  • There could be some physical discomforts also like dizziness, fleeting hunger pangs, headaches, weakness, tiredness, or sleeplessness

Foods to Eat During Fasting

  • You could include whole grains like oats, barley, and brown rice in your diet for better health. Also try including legumes like dried beans, split beans, lentils and peas.
  • Depending on the kind of fast you follow, never go without water for more than three days for better health. Most people believe in only eating fruits, while some follow juice fasting.
  • Juice fasting decreases the hunger pains and gives you more natural sugar energy, and you can even try mixing acidic juices with water for better health.
  • Milk can cause a lot of gas, and yoghurt may cause stomach rumbling, though is generally considered food. Try drinking clear soups when you need extra energy for work.
  • Ensure your diet includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and liquids that give you inner strength and power. Also, make sure you brush your teeth regularly as long hours of fasting cause bad breath, mainly due to the release of toxins

Ending a Fast

  • For better health, ensure that you end your fast gradually. Eat small portions of food every few hours, and one small serving of poultry or fish the first day.
  • While fasting, introduce richer foods like fried food and rich desserts back into your diet, though do so gradually. Large amounts of foods eaten suddenly could cause constipation, gastrointestinal problems, or other digestive problems.
  • Also remember, that the longer the fast, the more time it takes to break it. If you have fasted for over three weeks or longer, your stomach becomes similar to a baby’s. Thus, you need to feed yourself after that fast, as you would a baby for better health. You may be able to get back to consuming normal food not earlier than a week.
  • You normally don’t feel so hungry after the initial three days when you are fasting. However, your hunger returns when you start to eat again and that is the time when you must hold on to yourself.
  • Learn to exercise self-control, and as fasting causes the stomach to contract, it’s unwise to expand it again to the same extent.
  • Headaches are known to occur during detoxification because the toxins in the blood cause it to thicken. The remedy lies in drinking more water or having a bowel movement.
  • Some people may not be able to abstain from food, like those who are diabetic, but anyone can temporarily give up something – like smoking or caffeine, to remain focused.
  • There are no rules on fasting periods, and it can be as short as one meal or as long as a number of days. However, it is advised not to fast for more than 40 days, as it can bring about health complications.

Fasting is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, children or teenagers as they are still growing, seniors of the elderly, and those recovering from illness, diseases, injury or surgery.

And finally, fasting is not a quick fix solution to good health and weight loss. To gain the health benefits of fasting one needs to have determination, will power, remain focused, and continue fasting regularly for long period. Those who do, surely reap the rewards of physical and mental well-being.

Many believe fasting is better than any other calorie restriction diets. But there will be difference of opinions based upon personal experiences.

Speaking of myself, I still need to practice fasting on a regular basis. Yes, as I mentioned in the earlier post of prayer and fasting for a better life, I have skipped a meal in-between and even fasted for a whole day living on water, observed partial fasts, but never really tried out the other kinds of fasting that I now intend doing.

I guess you can’t expect to break a habit that you’ve been keeping for all these years and instantly adopt new ones. But accepting change and adjusting to life is always good in the end.

Over to you-

According to you, what are the health benefits of fasting? Do you fast or practice any type of fasting, and which kind of fasting suits you best? What are your reasons for fasting and what has been your personal experience? Share in the comments below.

 

 

Photo Credit: 123rf



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About Harleena Singh

Harleena Singh is a positive thinker and a freelance writer. She loves to write inspiring and thought provoking posts on self-improvement, family, relationships, health, and other aspects of life. She's not another personal development guru, but just an average person with great life experiences. She's also a blogger, who loves to share her blogging knowledge and experiences. Network with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+..

56 Comments

  1. Rajendranath Mehrotra

    March 30, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Fasting or Upavasa [as known in India] is useful for the management of following problems:

    1. Indigestion, 2. Fever, 3. Impaired eating habit, 4. Obesity, 5. Diabetes

    Upavasa is a preventive as well as curative method. Due to fasting or upavasa major digestive and metabolic organs get rest and rejuvenated. All glands get rest.

    I would like to put forward the idea that regular or lengthy water fasts and even a lengthy juice diet/fast, can bring about a sufficient degree of homeostasis (equilibrium) that one can attribute it to a heightened sense of well-being and centeredness.

    In Hinduism and now even in new age, every healing works on the principle of clearing the negative energy, waste etc. from the body, because the common cause of all diseases is the accumulation of waste and poisonous matter in the body which results from overeating, indigestion etc.

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      Harleena Singh

      March 31, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      Glad you could resonate with the post Rajendranath!

      Thanks for adding more information about the health benefits of fasting. I’ve read this bit on many websites, nevertheless, these are the true facts. It is something that one has to try and undergo and feel the difference, but under expert guidance.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  2. Harriet

    March 30, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I’ve been curious about the health benefits of fasting for a while. This is a nice tie in with the spiritual benefits of fasting as well. Thanks, it makes an interesting read.

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      Harleena Singh

      March 30, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      Glad you could relate too the post Harriet!

      Yes indeed, the health benefits of fasting are numerous as you read in the post. Whether you fast for spiritual or physical reasons, you are surely going to benefit health-wise when you fast.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  3. Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.

    March 31, 2012 at 12:58 am

    I have employed fasting only for religious reasons. I may remove certain foods from my diet, but have not tried fasting (other than, as you mentioned, for specific medical tests).
    But, I loved this compendium. Thanks.

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      Harleena Singh

      March 31, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      Glad you could resonate with the post Roy!

      I can well understand how/why people fast for religious reasons, which is something often followed at our end by most people. Removing certain foods from our diet or not eating a meal or two is something we all tend to often do every now and then, though the real fast is totally absolute or those with/without water that are followed by most religions I think.

      Sometimes for conducting certain medical tests, doctors advice us to refrain from eating certain kinds of food, or fast for a few hours, or skip the night meal for the tests to be conducted the next day. Those however are for medical reasons, and not really for health benefits.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  4. Anne

    March 31, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    You’ve covered fasting in detail here, Harleena. As you mentioned, many people do this for religious reasons, but others, just for detoxifying or losing weight.

    I used to fast for religious reasons when I was a teenager (as I told you before), but because of changes in my body since I had the kids, I can’t do it now at all. I need regular food, or I’ll faint. The juice fasting seems a really good option to people trying to lose weight. My sister did this some time ago and lost a bit of weight, but as with all diets, this is unsustainable for more than a week.

    I never diet because I’ve proven in my book that there are better ways of staying healthy and trim. However, the detoxifying aspect you mentioned is very good when you want to give your body a break.

    Great article. You’ve done a lot of homework here.

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      Harleena Singh

      March 31, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      Glad you found the post well covered Anne!

      People fast for various reasons, and just as you mentioned you used to do it for religious reasons when you were a teenager, you may have been wanting to carry it on if your health permitted may be for health and religious reasons both now. Yes, sometimes our health doesn’t really permit us to fast due to medical or other reasons. But small fasts of skipping meals is something most of us still do- isn’t it?

      Juice fasting does work wonders for those wanting to fast and it does make you lose weight, though again, you need to take medical advice before really starting on any kind of fasting. The real benefit of fasting are seen only when you practice them for sometime or are regular with them, and as in your sisters case, she may have lost more weight had she carried it on longer. But yes, you really can’t carry it on longer if your health doesn’t permit.

      Dieting is different from fasting and has other side effects also, though anything in moderation works. Yes indeed, I did hunt around and read a great deal before posting this post as I always want to be thorough with my work and provide what’s best for the readers.

      Thanks for stopping by and adding more value to the post. :)

  5. Vidya Sury

    March 31, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Great guide on fasting!

    I believe in it completely. I’ve tried different fasts – thanks to our culture and have always benefited. Even now, we skip a meal once a week – dinner – and it feels good.

    Thank you, Harleena – this is a wonderful guide.

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      Harleena Singh

      March 31, 2012 at 11:17 pm

      Glad you liked the ‘guide’ Vidya!

      Sorry about the length that may have made you feel it’s like a guide. Guess I always like to give complete information to the readers so that they really don’t have to go on further to look up anything about the topic. :)

      I haven’t really tried fasting in its real sense, except for skipping a few meals or trying out a combination of fasts, or the one day fasts. So the real benefits is something I still have to experience. But yes, it does make you feel light and nice.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  6. Ajnabii

    March 31, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    Glad to see your post about “Health Benefits of Fasting”. You have covered almost everything so I don’t think I need to add more benefits. Well many people do this for religious reasons, but others, just for detoxifying or losing weight.

    I agree with your 2 points of juice fasting and water fasting – no doubt that both are very cheap and good for health.

    Thanks for writing and sharing this informative post with us. :)

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      Harleena Singh

      April 1, 2012 at 7:25 pm

      Glad you could relate to the post Bashir!

      Yes, as I had mentioned earlier there was a lot to write and share about fasting, especially its health benefits, and a lot more could still be covered, but I do worry about the post length. I just wanted to mention more of the benefits of fasting- health-wise in this post.

      Fasting for religion has an altogether different purpose than fasting for health reasons, though either ways you are sure to benefit from it- isn’t it? Water fasting of course needs nothing more than water and is the cheapest, though you really can’t stay on water for many days. On the other hand juice fasting is a shade better as you are getting some minerals, salts, and other nutrients in your body.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  7. Sylviane Nuccio

    April 2, 2012 at 3:58 am

    Another great post Harleena!

    While I have never practiced fasting, like your husband I can do some kind of intermittent fasting when I feel that I ate too much at some point.

    For example, if I feel that I had a big lunch I will often skip dinner or eat something like a yogurt. This is very easy to do and it really keeps weight gain at bay:)

    I am rarely sick, but when I am it usually comes with nausea, so I usually fast for as long as I feel that way, but it usually never goes over 3 days in a row. I always consume water and juice, though. When that happen I can feel my body shrink quite a bit.

    There is a comic French saying that says “we our done, we eat too much”! That is so true, indeed. There is another one that says “we dig our tomb with our teeth”. So, yes I agree, fasting is definitely a health benefit when done right of course, and according to each individual capacity of doing so.

    Thank you for your excellent fasting tips, and have a great, day :)

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      Harleena Singh

      April 2, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Glad you liked the post Sylviane!

      Intermittent fasting seems the easiest way to give your system some rest, and the best part being that you can practice this kind of fasting anytime you like, without really knowing you are fasting.

      You are absolutely right- as this is something we often do at our end too- skip one meal of the other is or was a heavy one. I think it does make sense not to have all 3 square meals if they are all wholesome large ones- isn’t it?

      When you are sick I don’t think you really feel like eating much and that in itself leads to kind of a forced fasting. I guess when we eat less and drink more of fluids we do lose weight, whether we like it or not. I remember my mother always ensured we kept eating even when we felt sick, though in small bits, as she feared we would lose our weight and shrink in size!

      Those are nice sayings and with a lot of meaning as well! Yes, fasting does have its benefits, provided its done correctly and not to starve yourself or lose weight drastically, as that would lead to other health problems.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. Always a pleasure to have you over. :)

  8. Adam

    April 2, 2012 at 4:15 am

    I never realized there was a true benefit to fasting. Thanks for clarifying a lot of the things that I didn’t really understand.

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      Harleena Singh

      April 3, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      Welcome to the blog Adam!

      Sorry for the delay in replying, as for some reason your comment was lying in the spam folder.

      Yes indeed, the benefits of fasting are numerous and I just managed to write only a handful of them as I was worried about the post length extending more than it already is. Glad you found the post helpful.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  9. Deeone Higgs

    April 3, 2012 at 12:36 am

    This was a wonderful post, Harleena!

    I didn’t know many of the health benefits that came through fasting. I appreciate you for sharing these with us. Whenever we know what good can come from topics such as fasting; we’re more likely to add such practices to our lifestyle. I also enjoyed reading about the different forms of fasting. It gives us more options to consider; which it is always a good thing to have more options. The tips you provided were wonderful as well. All in all, this was a very informative post! Thank you so much for sharing your findings along with us.

    Very well done, my friend. :)

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      Harleena Singh

      April 3, 2012 at 8:59 am

      Glad you liked the post Deeone!

      To be very honest, I also didn’t really know that fasting had so many health benefits, till I really researched about it. I guess if I would have known, I would have started fasting long back, or at least tried out a few ways. :)

      You are absolutely right about having a variety of fasts that you can choose as an option to follow or practice, which depends on what suits you and your lifestyle best. I personally would go in for juice fasting or perhaps intermittent fasting, both of which are not tough to follow, as compared to the total fasts or water fasting that do need a lot of will power and determination.

      Thanks for stopping by. Always a pleasure to have you over. :)

  10. Justin Mazza

    April 3, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Hi Harleena,

    Fasting is such a great practice for the mind and body. The organs really do need a break and fasting is the perfect way to do that. Most cultures practice fasting at least for a few days a month. Americans are slowly catching onto this practice.

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      Harleena Singh

      April 3, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      Glad you could relate to the post Jusin!

      It is a great practice indeed for our body and mind, and our overall well being. I feel it does our system good if we don’t eat for a day or skip in-between meals often, as that detoxifies us and makes us feel lighter as well.

      Yes indeed, most cultures do practice fasting for a few days or months mainly due to religious reasons, though am sure Americans would surely catch up with fasting for health reasons if not for religious ones, or perhaps a combination of both!

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  11. Abigail

    April 3, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Simply executed and awesome approach to share. Very nice bundling of all this information into a perfect and short text :)

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      Harleena Singh

      April 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      Welcome to the blog Abigail!

      Glad you liked the post and could relate to the benefits of fasting.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  12. Annie Andre

    April 3, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Hello Harleena,

    This was such a through post WOW… You could turn this into a book…
    I like how you explained the different types of fasting.. There really are a lot aren’t there.

    I did a fast at the beginning of this year as a kind of experiment. Here in Marseille France there is a large muslim population and a lot of the kids were fasting at the school my sons attend for Ramadan.

    Anyways, I decided to try a fast and did tons of research and decided on a 30 day water fast as an experiment. I did 7 days of working my way up to the water fast then 14 actual days of water fasting and then 7 days of weaning myself back onto food by drinking broth and eating only fresh raw fruit…

    I am getting ready to post my results on my own blog but I’ll share with you the biggest takeaway for me.
    First I have never fasted. I dieted once after my second child was born…

    The first 5 days were hard only drinking soup broth and fruit shakes. No meat no carbs no cooked items…
    The real challenge was the first 3 days of water fasting. I had to drink water constantly and was very very hungry. Then the fourth day I started to get really foggy. Like I was in a haze. I even wrote a blog post and the next day didn’t remember writing it. It was surreal. From what I understand, my body was switching to Ketosis where I use the fat in my liver I think, before I started using my fat storage. Day five was FANTASTIC.. I felt like a new person. I had the equivalent of an epiphany and was so clear headed. Issues that plagued me before suddenly became easy to solve… I wrote a lot and felt good overall.

    Then day six seven and eight came and went and I didn’t feel hungry anymore. I did feel very weak and very cold by my head was still very clear. My energy level was very low but always clear headed.

    At the end of my fast I was very glad I did it. I eat less now and I found I had a new appreciation for fresh fruit, something I didn’t really enjoy as much. I love my carbs – noodles and cheese..

    I am trying to adopt a new policy to do a 2 day fast every month where I only drink liquids. It’s working so far and I feel fantastic on those days.

    I highly recommend people at least trying a 24 hour fast. I had a fantastic experience but I know its not for everyone..

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      Harleena Singh

      April 3, 2012 at 11:03 pm

      Glad you could relate so well to the post Annie!

      Turn the post into a book- wow! I take that as a compliment, and thank so much for these kind words. :)

      It was wonderful to go through your experience of fasting and all that you experienced, which must have made you feel extremely wonderful and light within. Nice to know about a Muslim community prevalent even in France, guess that must have helped a great deal in you practicing Ramadan, which is indeed a tough kind of fast.

      You did try a combination of things with mainly water fasting for 2 weeks and then weaned off gradually, which is actually the right way of practicing fasting. I think when you are determined, you can do anything – isn’t it?

      Wonderful to know all that you went through, especially when you overcame those initial 3-5 days that were the real tough ones. You could feel your body switching to Ketosis, which must have given you a good feeling.

      I guess once you are through with day 5, as you mentioned, the rest isn’t as tough and you get used to the fasting for the rest of the days as your body gets used to taking fluids or juices at required intervals and forgoing other foods. People who fast are known to have a clear and decisive minds, though as you mentioned, a little bit of weakness does remain.

      Nice to know that you are following up the fasts, though just for twice a month, that in itself does wonders – doesn’t it?

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your wonderful experiences with everyone. :)

  13. Corinne Rodrigues

    April 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    There was a time that I thought I’d never fast. However, recently I’ve tried out the juice fasting and the fruit fasting and they worked wonders for me. I felt so much lighter and cleansed. Most importantly, I could carry on with my routine without feeling any of the weakness I had anticipated.

    Very informative post, Harleena!

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      Harleena Singh

      April 4, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      Glad you could relate to the post Corinne!

      Nice to know that you did try out the fruit and juice fasting, and that it worked well for you. I have never really tried out fasting for more than a day or skipped an odd meal in-between. And yes, juice and fruits work best for me as well, though I have also tried out the total fast by living only on just water, but for a day. :)

      I guess we imagine more than what actually happens, and so it works best to actually give things a try and judge it for yourself – isn’t it? I do plan trying out the various fasts, though gradually, till I get a little used to it to make it a routine.

      Thanks for stopping by. Always a pleasure to have you over. :)

  14. Jodi

    April 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    You are doing great over here, Harleena!

    This is a fab post! I use fasting many times a year for spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health!
    Great info for your readers!

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      Harleena Singh

      April 4, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      Glad you liked the post Jodi!

      Nice to know that you practice fasting many times a year, and that too for both, health and religious reasons. I think that combination works best, though I haven’t really tried it for religious reasons as yet.

      Thanks for stopping by. It’s great to see you after a long time. :)

  15. Praveen Rajarao

    April 5, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Harleena – It has been a while since I visited your site, and this article was a perfect one to start after a long time.

    I do observe the “Juice Fasting” every thursday from morning until dinner. I do have regular dinner, but the entire day goes with fruit juices. I do feel a lot better in my mind and body after the day’s routine. I should say that one has to practice at the least some sort of fasting once a week to clean up the toxins in the body.

    Rightly said by you and cheers to all the Anna Hazares out there!!!!

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      Harleena Singh

      April 5, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      Not a problem Praveen,

      Glad to know that you observe juice fasting once a week, and it’s working well for you. That’s something I need to start really soon too! You are absolutely right about practicing any one type of fasting for detoxifying your body, which is essential. Even if you do it by skipping one or two meals it works well.

      I like your last line – I guess that’s how they really survive!

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  16. fazal mayar

    April 5, 2012 at 6:42 am

    Thanks for that, fasting for a month is what we Muslims do and it can be great for spirituality and health.

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      Harleena Singh

      April 5, 2012 at 9:03 pm

      Welcome to the blog Fazal!

      You are absolutely right by stating that Muslims observe the one month long fast during the month of Ramadan, which is indeed beneficial for spiritual and health. It does enhance their will-power and determination – isn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  17. Elena Anne

    April 5, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    I have always been a huge fan of fasting. While when I was younger I did it for spiritual reasons I now see the physical advantages it gives me as well. It basically gives your digestive system a break and gets rid of everything in it.

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      Harleena Singh

      April 5, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      Welcome to the blog Elena!

      Nice to know that you like fasting and practice it now for it’s health benefits. People would always be at an advantage whether they fast due to spiritual or health reasons – isn’t it? It surely does get rid of the toxins and gives our systems a good break.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  18. Daniel Lombardi

    April 8, 2012 at 4:06 am

    Hi Harleena,

    Fasting seems like a good idea but I do think it could be quite a dangerous one of not practiced correctly. I think that whoever decides to follow fasting need to read up on. It does make you more appreciative of having food and the capability to eat when you want.

    Best wishes to you, for a magnificent weekend.

    Daniel

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      Harleena Singh

      April 8, 2012 at 12:14 pm

      Glad you could relate to the post Daniel!

      You are absolutely right that fasting, if not practiced properly could be dangerous due to its other side effects on the body and system. Those who do want to fast, need to learn more about fasting, the types of fasts, and most importantly, which kinds would suit their body and system. And of course, consulting your physician would do no harm. :)

      Thanks for stopping by & have a wonderful weekend as well :)

  19. Damond Nollan

    April 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Harleena,

    I’ve never purposely fasted, although I know many that have. At church, we’re led into a Daniel Fast for 20-30 days, which I think is mainly juice, nuts, and water. Don’t quote me on that.

    As a child, I recall my mother doing a 30 water fast. Not sure if she made it all the way or not, but she was definitely cranky. I was under 12 at the time, so that aspect affected me most.

    Thanks for putting together such a complete article. It seemed to cover every question I could possibly have on the topic. Is this how you write ALL your articles. :)

    Kudos!

    Damond

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      Harleena Singh

      April 8, 2012 at 11:11 pm

      Glad you could resonate with the post Damond!

      I have heard a lot about Daniel Fast too, though really don’t know much of the details other than it is practiced my many. Your mother sure must be having wonderful will-power to fast for 30 days, and that too by just living on water. I guess when you fast just on water for so long, the other side effects like being cranky, headaches, weakness, tiredness, or sleeplessness.

      Even the Muslims practice a similar fast for 40 days, though they do have one meal (mostly at the end of the day) during Ramadan.

      I am sorry for the length of the post, but yes, most of my posts are like this as I like to share all I know about a topic so that my readers really don’t have to go looking for the same subject elsewhere. It’s good to give complete knowledge to the best of your abilities to others – isn’t it?

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your views with everyone. :)

      • Damond Nollan

        April 10, 2012 at 8:57 pm

        Harleena,

        I have no complaints. My question regarding the depth of your blog was more of a compliment. In reading your piece, I felt there was very little else to say on the topic.

        When I compare your comprehensive post to my own, I recognize that mine rarely get long nor are they THAT complete. Often times, I try to write something that I can do in a session (60-90 minutes). My plan is to slowly combine the smaller posts into more lengthy and complete documents. Eventually, should I ever have a topic that deserves it, I can put it into an eBook or full-length book.

        My current project, the doctoral dissertation, is one example of a major document that I’m writing in pieces. Although, after reading your post, I’m wondering if I’m doing it wrong.

        Thanks for being just awesome.

        Damond

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          Harleena Singh

          April 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm

          I take it as a compliment Damond!

          I think more than the length of a post, what matters more is the content you share. Sometimes I come across posts that are just 300-500, yet they are of value, though a lot depends upon the topic written about and the readers reading that post.

          You plan sounds good to combine the smaller posts into lengthy complete documents, which could turn into eBook or a normal book. I never thought on those lines as I still really haven’t tried my hand on working with eBooks.

          If it’s suiting you fine to write your dissertation the way you are doing it, then go with it, because that wouldn’t be a blog post then, but something larger. I guess we need to follow our instincts in such cases. :)

          Thanks so much for those warm and kind words, I guess I am just being plain and simple me. :)

  20. Syeda Mehwish

    April 16, 2012 at 2:42 am

    Hello Harleena,

    Fasting is good for health and in UK ( in our community) the fasting time is very long in summers, and I feel dehydrated in summer fasting but it is good for whole body and it reduces the risk of diseases and improve our digestive system. Do you think in summer when fasting time is so long, it is still benefical for health? And what is your opinion for a pregnant woman if she fasts, is that fasting is good for her health?

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      Harleena Singh

      April 16, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Glad you could relate to the post Syeda!

      Fasting is good for our body, provided we know the correct way to fast. It does improve our digestion, remove toxins from our body, and lessens the risk of various diseases, besides many other benefits as shared within the post.

      During summers, you could choose to go in for juice fasting where the intake of fluids is more, so that you don’t feel dehydrated and weak. And yes, fasting works for all seasons, not just for winter or spring! Pregnant women should not fast as they need proper food and nourishment for themselves as well as the unborn child, and fasting would not be beneficial for such women.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  21. Pete Goumas

    April 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Hi Harleena,

    Fasting has so many advantages but I do fast when I have to lose my weight :) and I prefer juice fasting for this purpose. Juice fasting not only help in reducing weight but also you don’t feel dehydrated.

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      April 19, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      Glad you could relate to the post Pete!

      Yes indeed, fasting has many advantages and if you fast for losing weight, you are not alone! I guess most people fast to lose weight or to detoxify their bodies, besides the ones who practice fasting for religious purposes.

      Juice fasting works best for me too, I think it takes care of the required nourishment for the time you fast, and avoids dehydration too.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

    • Matthew Denos

      April 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      Hi Pete,

      I know you like juices not only for fasting but in general! Last year you, Steven and I enjoyed a day on the beach with nothing but juice and fruits. Nice to see you in Harleena’s blog

  22. dl90

    April 26, 2012 at 5:33 am

    Intermittent fasting is amazing, and it doesn’t need to be daunting or difficult at all. I feel so much more alive while I’ve fasted, and the longer term weight loss results are just a bonus.

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      April 26, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      Welcome to the blog (I don’t know your name though!)

      Yes indeed, intermittent fasting is wonderful and easy to practice too. I guess it’s an easier way of fasting where you don’t really feel all that hungry nor do you have to remain hungry for a long length of time.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  23. Ahsan

    May 20, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Fasting makes life more cheerful & healthy. I guess if you do fasting properly, you don’t need to diet.

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      May 21, 2012 at 10:45 am

      Welcome to the blog Ahsan!

      Yes indeed, fasting does make you healthy, cheerful, and more full of life. If you fast regularly, you surely don’t need to diet, but I don’t think you should overdo fasts just to lose weight or diet as that may have an adverse affect sometimes.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  24. Bellaisa

    May 23, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Very extensive post on fasting! I hope you will write about your future fasting experiences.

    I personally WANT to fast, but my relationship with food is so messed up that I can’t seem to part with it! I want to fast because I think it will help clear out toxins, and possibly give me a better relationship with food afterwards, but I literally have not had success in the pre-fast. I can’t limit my food, cut out food, or just eat less than I normally do. But you are right…I need to accept that change is going to be good for me, and I need to make that a total belief so that I can accomplish that change in order to do the fast.

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      May 24, 2012 at 6:11 pm

      Welcome to the blog Bellaisa!

      Glad you liked the post, and yes, whenever I really practice fasting I shall surely write down my experiences and all that I underwent. :)

      Fasting isn’t something that all of us can do easily, due to so many reasons. But yes, may be starting by practicing one kind of fast that suits us best is still possible, if we really want to do it. It surely does help remove toxins from the body, and keeps our weight in control too. I guess a lot depends if and when you are ready to change yourself and your thoughts and be willing to start with fasts.

      Thanks for stopping by. :)

  25. Amandah

    August 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    I think most people would benefit from a fast now and again, even if you’re a vegan and or vegetarian (I’m a vegetarian).

    You may think you can’t go without food for one day, but you can do it if you really wanted to do so. Since I can’t find a pre-made cleanse that I like, I drink an organic herbal tea. Of course, you can always drink good ol’ water. In fact, you could drink more of it every day to clean out the toxins in your body.

    • Profile photo of Harleena Singh

      Harleena Singh

      August 30, 2012 at 6:25 am

      You’re right, Amandah. Fasting neither is difficult nor is it bad. However, one has to be totally aware of what and how to do, and shouldn’t go to extremes of fasting. If done properly, and occasionally, fasting does help.

      Herbal tea and green tea have antioxidants and other ingredients that help our body, and there’s no harm drinking it on a daily basis. And one should drink at least 7-8 glasses of water everyday, you do not need a doctor’s permission to do that!

      Thank you for presenting your views on fasting. :)

  26. Alex

    April 23, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    What a good thought! The subject of fasting is neglected in our day of excess and gluttony. It is a spiritual experience like no other.

  27. Carmen Z.

    August 2, 2013 at 12:58 am

    I’ve always thought fasting was God’s idea! And you are right, there is a big difference between fasting and dieting. A diet is a four-letter cuss word. Fasting, whether, (intermittently or prolonged) is nature’s way of cleansing the body. I personally prefer the daily IF. The eating “window” of about 8 hours is easy! I find it more natural than the 2x a week-24-hour fasts. I heard for most of my life: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” So there I was in my 20s and 30s, waking up daily, repulsed by the fact that I better not skip the most important “meal of the day.” Who came up with that? On the flip side, I had always heard that fasting was “dangerous!” It could mess up your metabolism, it could waste muscle, I could die! The day I decided that my body would tell me when I was hungry was the most liberating day of my life. Thanks again!

  28. Marcia Morrison

    July 22, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    i have read your article and find it very nice and conceptually as the fasting also a religious way to get you comfortable by your heart.

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