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28 Aug

Fasting, Health and Faith

Fasting is a practice that dates back centuries and plays a big role in many cultures and religions. But what IS fasting? 
 
Fasting is when you willfully refrain from eating for a period of time. Some people fast for religious reasons and some people fast for health reasons. There are also different types of fasting and even though there are a lot of health benefits from fasting, fasting should not be used as a weight-loss tool as this could essentially be quite dangerous. Especially if not approached correctly. Having said that, some fasting techniques (when applied correctly and safely) such as intermittent fasting, can essentially lead to healthy weight loss, but there are ways to approach this in a safe way. 

WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING???? 

Intermittent fasting is when you fast for a certain number of hours, in-between eating; Periods of fasting and eating. It doesn’t specify what foods you need to eat as such but rather when you should eat them. Therefore, this is not a diet but more about establishing a new eating pattern. Intermittent fasting can help you eat fewer calories and optimize numerous cells related to hormones, whilst improving your health and some studies even say it helps you live longer. Out of all of the fasting styles, intermittent fasting is the most popular. 

The 3 most popular methods of intermittent fasting are… 

THE 16/18 METHOD: 
This method involves fasting for 14-16 hours each day. For instance, starting your first meal at 12 pm and finishing your last by 8 pm. Restricting your eating window to 8-10 hours each day. It is important to eat healthy foods during these windows. The method will not work properly if you are eating junk food or excessively. 
 
THE 5:2 DIET: 
This method consists of eating normally for 5 days of the week and lowering your calories for 2 days of the week. On the fasting days, it is recommended that women eat 500 calories and men 600. For example, you might eat normally every day of the week except Mondays and Thursdays. For those two days, you eat 2 small meals of 250 calories each for women and 300 calories each for men. 
 
EAT STOP EAT METHOD: 
The Eat Stop Eat method consists of a 24 hour fast, once or twice a week. Fasting from dinner one day to dinner the next. For example, if your last meal was 7 pm you would fast until 7 pm the following evening. Or you could fast from breakfast to breakfast, lunch to lunch etc, whatever works best for your schedule. Water, coffee and other zero-calorie beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid foods are permitted. For anybody who’s trying fasting for the first time, you may find it hard at first but just make sure you ease yourself into it. You don’t want to make things too difficult or put your body into too much shock. 
 
If intermittent fasting is something you want to try, the diet quality is very crucial. Its not possible to binge on junk foods and expect to lose weight or boost your health. 

FASTING AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM…

Studies have shown that fasting for 3 days (72 hours) can essentially reset the whole immune system by “flipping a regenerative switch”. This lowers the white blood cells and triggers the immune system to start producing new white blood cells. Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose and fat, but also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells. 
 
Fasting for 72 hours has also protected cancer patients against the toxic impact of chemotherapy. 

BIBLICAL FASTING… 
Biblical fasting is abstaining from food for spiritual reasons. Fasting was an expected discipline from the old and new testament of the bible and is seen as a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God. It enables the Holy spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life. 
 
The benefit of biblical fasting is that it helps rid your body of toxins. 
 
FASTING AND RELIGION… 
Fasting is often associated with the season of Lent for Christians or the season of Ramadan for Muslims. 
However, many other cultures and religions around the world fast throughout the year. Other religions may include Buddhism, Judaism, Taoism, Jainism, and Hinduism. Fasting is often an important factor in religion because it’s about eliminating something from your life, giving you an opportunity to replace and supplement it with prayer. It allows those who practice to redirect their attention back to God. 

Fasting, when practised right, can be used for so many positive things and can be pretty amazing for the mind, body and soul. Whether you’re fasting for health, weight loss or religious reasons, not only are you boosting your wellbeing but you are teaching yourself some self-discipline, which is fantastic if practised correctly. 
 
If fasting is of interest to you, ensure that you are researching enough into it and are practising methods responsibly, as every individual is different. Make sure you are fasting for the right reasons and do your research to see which method of fasting suits you best. 
Leah Singh
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