Fasting is abstinence from food or drink consumption, or both for a specific period of time. The word Fast comes from Feastan in English, which means to observe. In Sanskrit fast is called Vrath. In naturopathy, it is believed that fasting is important for preservation of health. Fasting could be practiced for a long period or could be practiced with intermittent breaks. It is essential to consult a naturopath incase one wishes to proceed with a prolonged fast.
Methods of Fasting
In soothing diet fruit juices, gruels, buttermilk, vegetable soups, vegetable juices, raw salads, boiled vegetables, wheat and rice preparations in limited quantity are recommended. Vegetables such as cabbage, celery, lettuce, roots like carrot, string beans, gourds may be used in the diet. Ripe fruits of all sorts are of great value because they contain germ–destroying acids.
Since the body eliminates accumulated waste during fasting, it is essential that appropriate rest be taken. At the time of breaking the fast, it is also essential that one resumes normal diet slowly and gradually in few days. It is not advisable to immediately start overeating. At the time of resuming normal diet, one must spend time in chewing food completely before swallowing it.
Benefits of Fasting
Fasting affords a physiological rest to digestive, assimilative and protective organs. As a result, the digestion and the utilization of nutrients are greatly improved after fasting. The essential tissues, vital organs, nervous system and brain are not damaged in fasting. Naturopathy believes that fasting is a process of complete physical and mental rest. Fasting is advised in treating the disorders like Indigestion, Constipation, Gas, Digestive disorders, Bronchial Asthma, Obesity, High Blood Pressure, Gout etc.
Ayurveda had introduced the practice of fasting some thousand years ago as a vital tool to clean and unload the system. Fasting or langhana is a simple trick that gives our system the much-needed break. Ayurvedic fasting is not about starving the body or depriving the body of food; rather it is a very scientific concept of reducing food consumption for a limited period of time.
Ayurveda does not recommend zero fastings. The actual practice of Ayurvedic fasting allows the regulated intake of foods that are light and easy to digest complemented with lots of liquid. This allows the gut to rest, restores healthy functioning of the systems, calms the body and flushes away the harmful toxins.
Eating the wrong food or eating food in a wrong way results in accumulation of ama (toxins) in the body. Ama is the culprit that causes cravings, mood swings, fatigue, anxiety, bad breath, loss of appetite, body odour, and sluggishness. It is very important to cleanse the ama and reboot the system.
According to Naturopathy, the root cause of most of the diseases is the accumulation of morbid matter in the digestive system. It is essential to cleanse it by diverting the energies of the body by fasting. Fasting is essential in almost all diseases. Ayurveda states that it helps not only in cleansing the digestive system, but also all the seven ingredients of the body (lymph, blood, muscle, cartilage, bone marrow, bone and sperm). Fasting is not recommended for very weak patients, pregnant women, persons of advanced age, infants and TB patients. During the fasting the following symptoms may occur: tastelessness, bad odor in the mouth, coated tongue, vomiting, slight pain in the stomach, giddiness, exhaustion etc. All these symptoms appear because of the beginning of the process of elimination of morbid matter from the body. It is advisable to continue the fast until the tongue gets cleared, appetite becomes normal and the patient feels energetic again.
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Fasting is an important modality to health lifestyle. In fasting, mental preparedness is an essential pre-condition. Prolonged fasting should be done only under the supervision of a competent Naturopath or Ayurveda Physician.