The philosophy of fasting calls upon us to know ourselves, to master ourselves,
and to discipline ourselves the better to free ourselves.
To fast is to identify our dependencies, and free ourselves from them.
For Body Cleansing & Spiritual Purification
Fasting Throughout History
Fasting, in the various forms that people have observed throughout history, has been known to have a beneficial effect on health. However in a religious context, it is primarily a technique for seeking proximity to God and the divine. It seems that every religion knew the practice of fasting in one form or another. In the archaic practices of Hinduism there were certain days of the year set aside for fasting by women, and others for men. In our day, the Brahmin caste in India still observes a complete abstinence from food and drink on the eleventh and twelfth days of every Hindu month.
Hippocrates (400 BCE), the mythical Greek "Father of Medicine," seems to have prescribed total abstinence from food while a "disease" was on the increase, and especially at the critical period, and a spare diet on other occasions.
Fasting was also known to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. Similarly, the ancient scriptures of Persia advocate fasting and confirm its value as a means for spiritual purification. The Jews of the Old Testament were known to observe fasts on days of danger and misfortune and on several fixed days in their calendar, of which the best known to non-Jews is the fast of Yom Kippur. Jesus is said to have fasted forty days and nights before his final entry into Jerusalem.
The early Christians, most of whom observed the Mosaic Law, also fasted on the Day of Atonement. But with time, less emphasis was placed on exact adherence to the orthodox practices and the Lenten fast assumed a largely symbolic role, involving abstention from certain types of food only.
Muslims observe an annual fast, during the month of Ramadan. Between first light and sundown, adult Muslims in good health abstain from food, drink, cigarettes, and sex and the fast lasts for an entire lunar month. It is described in the Quran thus "so that you may attain taqwa or God-consciousness" and is another instrument for bringing believers closer to their natural state and for cleansing this state from the dross of any disobedience and corruption.
Everyone has a physician inside him or her; we just have to help it in its work.
The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.
Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food.
But to eat when you are sick is to feed your sickness.
Fasting to Detoxify
In the strict dietary sense, fasting is the complete abstinence from all substances except pure water, in an environment of total rest. Juice fasting, a popular variation, is abstinence from all food and drink except water and fresh vegetable and fruit juices. A modified fast includes small amounts of solid food, usually raw fruits as well as raw and steamed vegetables. Other types of fasts sometimes include brown rice fast, whereby only brown rice is eaten for a week, accompanied by water.
Detoxification is the foremost argument presented by advocates of fasting. Detoxification is a normal body process of eliminating or neutralizing the toxins resulting from biochemical functions through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph nodes, and skin. Fasting precipitates this process because, when food no longer enters the body, the latter turns to its fat reserves for energy. When the fat reserves are used for energy during a fast, they release the stored chemicals from the fatty acids into the system and are then eliminated through the above mentioned organs.
Another benefit of fasting is the healing process it triggers. During a fast, energy is diverted away from the digestive system, since there is no food to mobilize it, towards the metabolism and immune system. This is one reason why animals stop eating when they are wounded, and the reason why we feel less hungry when we're sick.
Once the body is in fasting mode, it becomes accustomed to go without food after a few days. After a fast, the stomach actually shrinks and is restored it to its normal size. People tend to be satisfied with less food after fasting, as the latter signals to your body that you've altered the way you eat.
Beware of binging after a fast as you could defeat the whole purpose of the fast.
"How should I fast?" .
Both Dr. Elson M. Haas and Dr. Leon Chaitow outline a typical short fast, the kind that can be done by almost without medical supervision. Short-term therapeutic fasts rely on a low-stress, quiet environment. They rely also on educating yourself about the course of treatment and what side effects you might expect to experience. Avoiding exercise and medications is vital. All of these instructions, in addition to what sorts of fruit and vegetable juices should be consumed at what times of the day, are available on the website.(www.healthy.net/hwlibrarybooks/haas/detox/fasting.htm)
"What are some of the conditions where fasting is beneficial?"
Fasting is a safe preventive method to enhance existing well-being. Short-term fasts (48 hours or less) usually can go unsupervised. For longer fasts or fasts used to treat medical conditions, medical doctors recommend a physical evaluation by a qualified professional, the prescription of a particular fasting pattern, and monitored physical and biochemical changes. Fasting has been successful treating conditions such as; colds, influenza, fever, bronchitis, fatigue, constipation, food and environmental allergies, asthma, insomnia and skin problems. Back pain caused by tight muscles is usually alleviated with juice fasting by unclogging congested organs and the colon area. Fasting is frequently used in the traditional medical system to treat obesity; however, some doctors take issue with whether overweight people should be fasting at all. A change of diet might be the first step to a healthier lifestyle.
"Who should avoid fasting?"
“The Lancet”, a very conservative medical journal, regards supervised fasting as extremely safe. Some cases of fever and fatigue should not be accompanied by fasting, usually because a nutritional deficit requires nourishment rather than deprivation of food. There are a number of groups of people who should not fast. People with life-threatening conditions should not fast, especially those who are emaciated due to cancer, TB, or AIDS. Both Type I and Type II diabetics should be under supervision if they decide to fast, but it is not recommended. Pregnant women, infants, and those with kidney failure are discouraged from fasting. Anyone who takes prescribed medication should avoid fasting because of unpredictable reactions. People with liver disease and anemia should avoid long fasts.
"How effective is fasting?"
Medical reports and personal examples of fasting stories suggest the effectiveness of the alternative therapy. Thousands of website testimonials cover the personal success stories of people who have fasted and explain the specific treatment or program they used.
"What are the hazards of fasting?"
Side effects of fasting due to the physiological changes taking place on the body include 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 The initial changes are replaced with a sense of well-being and clarity of mind. Hunger disappears after the first day. However, more serious complications arise during long-term fasts if necessary precautions and safety measures are not taken.