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.

Body:

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

Mind:

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.

Spirit:

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?

10 comments

    • 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.

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  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.

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    • 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.

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  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.
    https://meinthemiddlewrites.com/2019/04/06/a-to-z-challenge-april-world-holidays-letter-f/

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    • 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!

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  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

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    • 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.

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  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.

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    • 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.

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