How to fast for health and spiritualitySubmitted in Faith & Spirituality by Rebecca Rickman on August 21, 2013
Routine fasting can have many benefits to both body and soul. Here are some good reasons to consider it, including a list of physical benefits and some pretty good spiritual ones, as well.
Fasting can be done on several levels, depending on your present health, and can have lasting benefits, both physically and spiritually. It is not for everyone, so you should consult your physician before attempting to fast. Certain conditions might make fasting unwise or even dangerous, such as if you are pregnant or lactating, have diabetes, ulcers, liver problems, cardiac arrhythmias, renal or liver problems or are prescribed meds that should be taken with food. However, for those who are able, it is a good practice to consider in boosting your health and spirituality.
Fasting is generally considered the abstinence of food and drink for a prescribed period of time. Fasting even a couple of meals every now and then can have its advantages.
According to Dr. Biodun Awosusi, here are some of the physical benefits of fasting:
1. Helps your body detox. The liver is the detox center and does its job well. However, many of us ingest a lot of processed foods which contain additives. These additives may become toxins in the body. Many of these toxins are stored in fats. During fasting, fat is burned, especially when it is a prolonged fast. This releases many of the toxins that can slow us down or make us sick.
2. Fasting rests the digestive system. Fasting is a great way to allow our digestive organs to rest. During a fast, the normal physiological processes continue but at a reduced rate. Digestion continues, along with the secretion of stomach acid, which is why those with ulcers need to check with their physicians before considering it.
3. Fasting can reduce inflammation. Some studies show that fasting may promote resolution of allergies and inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis and psoriasis. Some experts state that fasting may help heal inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis.
4. Fasting helps reduce blood sugar. Fasting increases breakdown of glucose so that the body can get energy. It reduces production of insulin. This allows the pancreas to rest.
5. Fasting may help high blood pressure. Fasting is one of the non-drug methods of reducing blood pressure. During fasting and later, glucose fat stores are used to produce energy slowing down your metabolic rate. The result is a reduction in blood pressure.
6. Fasting promotes a healthier diet. By abstaining from the bad things we normally crave, our desire for them may be interrupted, allowing us to get back on track.
Fasting for religious or spiritual reasons:
Fasting is an ancient practice. It has been used for religious and spiritual purification for centuries.
It is fairly universal. Nearly every religious text, from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible to the Quran, calls upon followers to fast periodically for spiritual purification, penitence, or preparation for union with God.
Fasting adds power to your prayers. By making that sacrifice, we let God know how serious we are about the righteous desires of our hearts. Many times, I have fasted while praying for my children.
- It adds a boost to your sincerity. A good friend of mine recently fasted simply to show gratitude. I was touched by this. He didn't ask for anything, just fasted to boost the sincerity of his thankfulness.
Some added notes on fasting:
- Make certain to drink plenty of water upon completion of a fast to flush any toxins that have been broken down and to avoid the effects of dehydration-induced headaches or migraines.
Once you break your fast, don't grab a box of Twinkies and go to town. Begin with a piece of fruit and work your way back into healthy food.
If you begin to feel unwell, break your fast and consult a physician.
Keep things as calm and quiet as you can during your fast. Avoid stress as much as you can. Use meditation to center yourself.
Try to eat a healthy meal before you begin your fast.
Consider fasting one day a month to begin with. Do two meals and then work your way up to 24 hours.
Don't use fasting for weight loss. It is an unhealthy practice.
Keep a journal during your fast and write down your feelings and any spiritual promptings you may receive.
If fasting for religious reasons, begin and end your fast with prayer, followed by a period of quiet listening.
- Those who wish to fast for religious reasons, but can't for health reasons, can consider giving up something they love (sweets, bread, meat, etc.) for a prescribed period of time.
Remember, fasting is not just skipping meals. It should be done thoughtfully and with intent.