AtoZ Holistic Self-care: F is for Fasting

Have you ever fasted? For weight loss or health, religion, clarity of mind?

Fasting is more than a ‘fitness fad.’ Fasting has been around as a practice for centuries.

Fasting comes in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Some folks abstain from all foods, others from only certain foods. Some tout the benefits of long-term fasts, others believe in intermittent fasting (IF) – which entails establishing rhythms for eating on specific hourly or daily cycles. Some fast purely for body fitness, others for purity of the soul.

Because I’m neither a doctor/health practitioner nor a saint, I’ll ‘fast’ from providing the details of HOW to fast, and simply share thoughts on how fasting might impact body, mind, and spirit.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. I’ve not been trained in any natural or alternative medicine theory. I share what I’ve read and what I know from experience. If you are thinking of undertaking any fasting regiment, please do your own research and consult a doctor or practitioner of your choosing to give the go-ahead.


Fasting may help:

  • sync circadian rhythms and fight off metabolic diseases
  • keep the weight off over the long term
  • lose weight without following a traditional, calorie-restricted diet
  • lower your risk for cardiovascular disease
  • slow down the aging process


Fasting increases:

  • autophagy, which removes and eliminates damaged molecules and cellular waste that could lead to neurological disease.
  • BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a protein that prevents the death of stressed neurons, which could lead to cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
  • neurogenesis, or new brain cell growth, which creates new connections in the brain and improves cognitive function.


People fast:

  • To focus on love of God and spiritual matters
  • To free the mind and enhance concentration levels during meditation
  • To aid yogic feats like generating inner heat
  • To control fleshly desires, resistance to gluttony
  • As penance or atonement for sin
  • To purify one’s energy and raise vibration levels
  • In solidarity with the poor
  • To counterbalance modern consumerism
  • To advance a political or social-justice agenda

Have you ever fasted? Will you try fasting? Are you an all-in abstain from everything faster or an intermittent faster? Do you fast for body, mind, or spirit?


    • Donna – I totally understand NOT fasting. I tend towards the intermittent fasting style – – long breaks between eating an evening meal and breakfast the next day. And sometimes I just forget to eat…Thanks for joining the conversation.


  1. I tried to fast for 24 hours once… BIG mistake. I think I am borderline hyperglycemic and the shakes and headache were too great. I am giving thought to intermittent fasting, however. The idea that we eat within an 8-10 hour window and fast for 14-16 hours. At this point, I typically stop eating by 7:00 and don’t have breakfast until 8:00 … so I’m getting there.


    • Molly – you are getting there! I don’t think 24 hour fasting out-the-gate is very easy. I think the most important thing is that we aren’t stuffing our faces so much that our bodies don’t have time to really process everything. I used to always not eat after 5 pm, so I’m working my way back to that. Thanks for joining the conversation.


  2. Fasting was a part of my growing up as a 50s Catholic girl. I remember well that we couldn’t have food or water before receiving communion. I haven’t fasted since. Up until recently when I tried ‘intermittent fasting’ hoping to lose stubborn weight gain. I found that it was a trigger for tachycardia and wound up in the ED. So, you’re wise to encourage getting a doctor’s approval Janet.


    • Even as a 60s Catholic girl – in a very religious household, we fasted before communion, abstained from meat on Fridays, etc. Then I entered the Convent where, surprisingly fasting beyond the required rules of the 80s was frowned upon. It was after a detox fast that I began to really see my life a bit more clearly. I’m sorry you experienced the heart trouble with fasting — as I’ve said in my earlier post, we must ask our bodies what they are capable of. Thanks so much for joining hte conversation!


  3. I regularly do intermittent fasting, but it’s been ages since I did a proper fast. I keep saying I’m going to do a juice cleanse and then just never get around to it


    • Debbie – I totally get the ‘never get around to it’ phenomenon with fasting. I am the same way. I can’t ‘power through’ with regular life as easily as when I was younger, so it takes a bit more planning. Maybe one day soon…Thanks for joining the conversation.


  4. I feel like sometimes your body wants to fast even without any real action on your part, depending on what you are going through in life. Of course, I also think that purposeful fasting can help you to focus on your goals – spiritual and otherwise.


    • I totally agree that sometimes our bodies do what they want/need — I just find it amazing how much our body, mind, spirit are connected and often know what we need before we realize it. Thanks for joining the conversation.


  5. Obviously I’m very late to this post, but I had to weigh in on this topic.

    I too was a child of the 60s and I had completely forgotten about the practice of fasting before communion until it was mentioned here … and then of course there is the limited fasting done for various medical tests and procedures.

    I have tried intermittent fasting with mixed results. There have been days when the end result felt wonderful but one in particular stands out as a dismal failure. This post is giving me the nudge to go back to this practice and try it again.


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