Many a time we hear someone refuse a meal due to their Vrat or Fasting. Some even refuse a single drop of water (Nepali festival Teej in which women don’t even drink water), while some refuse to speak. This may sound new or even strange to the Western World, but such religious fasting can actually improve your Health.
There are Vital Life Force energy or Prana, five types of prana and five types of up-prana (vital life force energy and sub-vital life force energy).
These energies flow throughout our body, helping it function.So this life force energy is used to see, hear, talk smell, touch, brain functioning, organ functioning, body movements, digestion, etc.
Fasting is the body’s use of fat and dead, damaged and/or diseased tissues for fuel that is produced by abstinence of all eating and/or drinking of any beverages, vitamins, supplements and all foodstuffs whatsoever over sustained periods of time – in order to achieve intentional outcomes (e.g. therapeutic gains, cultural and social affinities, political advocacy, religious compliance, etc.).
According to the Eastern philosophies -the concept of Fasting is all about saving up this energy for some time – to use it for meditative purposes.
Amongst the many types of fasting, there are the – not speaking, not seeing, not eating and a few more types.
Ancient India recommended a practice of fasting one day in a fortnight(Ekadashi). Many religiously follow this practice to this day as a penance for spiritual progress without any idea of the biological and therapeutic benefits of this practice. People observe their fasts for some time like one day or more. Many people do it on a weekly basis.
Dr Yoshinori Ohsumi won this year’s Nobel prize for medicine for his research on Autophagy-meaning “self-eat”. It’s the process by which the human body eats it own damaged cells and unused proteins. Autophagy is a natural process. It also occurs in cases of starvation. The failure of autophagy is one of the main reasons for accumulation of damaged cells which eventually leads to various diseases in the body. Autophagy is important to prevent/fight cancer and also plays a vital role in degrading and ‘consuming’ cells infected by bacteria and viruses.
As suggested in ancient India fasting a day in a fortnight meant a day spent in prayer and divine contemplation. This was a tonic for the mind and soul while the practice of fasting ensured that the body would heal and rejuvenate itself.
Intermittent fasting removes caloric intake for enough time to induce autophagy—there’s no solid number, but many adherents point to 14 hours as a good gauge on when good things start happening. Autophagy forces cells to be recycled, taking them apart and using the pieces to build new cells. This removes the detritus otherwise building up from discarded cell parts, and even defends against viruses, bacteria, and chronic infections
Fasting also gives the digestive tract a rest. When you eat often, the Ghrelin hormone in your stomach fires more often, which leads to confused hunger signalling.
It also increases insulin sensitivity.With less food intake, your body pumps in less insulin, making the cells more reactive when it shows up. Decreased insulin sensitivity has a host of bad side effects, from weight gain and increased ageing markers to type 2 diabetes.
The ancients believed in the process of holistic healing of both the body and the mind and were able to, quite remarkably, connect the yearning for spiritual progress in a human being with the biological necessity of the human body.
Fasting is however Contraindicated in conditions like:
- people in a state of starvation
- pregnant, diabetic women; nursing women
- those with anaemia
- people with porphyria
- individuals with a rare genetic, fatty-acid deficiency of acetyl-CoA (preventing ketosis from occurring)