Fasting has been one of the most powerful tools when it comes to healing a disease, cure or simply preventing it . Various types of fasts (aka Vrat in Hindi) have its mention in religious books and communities. One such is intermittent fasting(IF), where one embraces fasting and then feasting on purpose; similar to traditional practice of fasting during the month of Ramadan. If you go to see, fasting is very natural to us. A 7-8 hr sleep is a period of fasting anyway. Our body automatically puts us in a state of fast to allow detoxification. The dirt in corners of our eyes , the smell of our mouth and our first urine that is warm and acidic , are all signs of our body successfully detoxifying itself at night .
How does IF work?
Our digestive system uses almost 80 % body’s energy, leaving the rest 20% for other bodily functions .Ever noticed your (or animals) appetite falling during sickness? That’s our body’s natural defence mechanism to protect and heal. By cutting down appetite our digestive system slows and eventually shuts down, thereby directing the saved energy towards healing. That’s our immunity working for us. Fever is nothing but our body raising temperature to kill the heat sensitive pathogens. Diarrhoea is nothing but our body trying to flush out the bugs that we many have ingested via food or air. Vomiting is nothing but our body’s natural mechanism to push something out of system. It’s good to go through these symptoms at times because it indicates our body doing the right things at the right time. Unfortunately we humans have become so addicted to comfort and convenience that even a 15 min suffering becomes unbearable .We immediately look for a quick fix , pop a pill and end up compromising immunity in the longer run .
I find so many people fast on fruits, juices, nuts, sabudana and puris. Sorry, that is not a fast. Fasting is supposed to be devoid of any food for that window period. All we can have is water. No tea, coffee or even lemon water for that matter because the whole idea is to give the digestive system a complete rest.
Why should you embrace IF?
Its shown to play a massive role right from hair loss , breaking the weight loss plateau, anti-aging , , hormonal balance , immunity , detoxification , acidosis to cancer , diabetes , cardiovascular diseases , kidney problems and just feeling more energetic and good inside . You name it and fasting has its place when it comes to healing!
For diabetics , practicing I.F under supervision improves insulin sensitivity. However its important to closely track sugar levels during fast .One may go into hypoglycaemic depending on the stage of diabetes but that shouldn’t stop you from exploring I.F. One can actually start healing diabetes with Intermittent fasting along with other lifestyle changes.
I.F also improves Spiritual health because meditation is most fruitful on an empty stomach. One can meditate best when digestive system and its communication with the brain function is given a complete rest.
In Mexico , there are fasting pods called “fast incubators”, where people are surrounded by nature and are not exposed to any smell of food, noise and one can fast for any period of time ranging from 10 – 30 days. I have seen remarkable improvements in healing of cancer, improvement in eyesight and the sense of hearing come back.
If you are looking to enhance the quality of your life and increase life span, you will find that calorie restriction is the way forward. This doesn’t mean starving but eating exactly what body needs and sometimes fasting to allow repair and recovery. All the regeneration of cells (including immune system) happens during fasting which is why I.F is fantastic for immunity.
How to do it?
For true therapeutic benefits, an IF of 12-16 hours, for 3 days in a row , twice a month is recommended There are two phases to IF. One is the Elimination Phase, where the body is in a fasted state and is running only on water, and the other is Building Phase, the time period that allows eating food so as to prepare for the next day. One may start off with a 12-hour window and gradually build up to 16 hours. With practice, 16 hours becomes so easy that you may then be able to launch into the 24 hour water fast which is absolutely fantastic for immunity, weight and everything else. For example, if dinner is by 8pm, by 8am next morning its 12 hours. Add four hours to that and it becomes 16 hrs , which means first meal is at 12 pm.
I highly recommend 3 days IF for best results .Choose to do it every Monday or Tuesday after your weekend or do it after a holiday or after a festive season, whatever seems the best fit for your lifestyle. Most experience bouts of hunger pangs on the first day and miss breakfast or morning chai on the second day (just out of sheer attachment) and by third day experience extreme happiness because it makes you realise your body’s brilliance
Having said all of this , even though IF is fantastic for healing diseases, it has to be customised according to an individual’s lifestyle, body type and emotional health at that particular point. Take the case of cancer. Even though IF brings amazing results, it totally depends on the stage of cancer, kind of chemo, radiation, how a patient is placed between cycles. One can’t be on chemo and do IF . Thats disastrous for health. Each disease is different for each body, so it has to be extremely personalised according to your current situation. Before attempting IF, it’s extremely important to seek professional advice.