Fasting or Diet therapy is resorted to in Nature Cure treatments as a method of detoxification. With all the kinds of understanding we have gathered so far, we are now equipped to appreciate the workings within us when we treat ourselves to no food or purely a targeted diet.
Fasting for 24 to 48 hours has a complex ripple effect in the body; it affects at the cellular level, reversing conditions of cancer; activates the biochemical processes that lead to brain & memory enhancement; there is a decrease in the low-density lipoprotein known as bad cholesterol; and it improves the way the body metabolizes sugar, keeping weight-gain, diabetes and heart trouble at bay.
Our body needs a constant energy supply, the primary source being a sugar called glucose. We get it from carbohydrates, grains, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, beans, and sweets. The liver and the muscles store the glucose and release it into the bloodstream as and when.
In fasting mode, with an increased metabolic rate, the body enters into a state of gluconeogenesis, in which the body burns an increased number of calories. During the first few hours of a fast, the body gets its fuel from glycogen stores in the liver and muscles. After first exhausting the contents of the digestive tract, the liver mobilizes and uses up its glucose reserves. With no carbohydrates coming in for 12 to 14 hours, the metabolism slows down and the body will start using protein for its energy needs, and begins burning muscle tissue for energy. When the body runs out of these fuel sources, starvation takes over, and then it creates its own glucose using the fat reserves.
When the fat starts to metabolize, it creates ketones, a source of energy that powers the brain in a different way, helping it to function more efficiently. Beta-HBA, the principal ketone, has been shown to be a super-fuel that produces ATP energy more efficiently than glucose. It stimulates the production of the brain’s growth hormone, which also supports the function of existing neurons. It protects neuronal cells from toxins associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
When the storage form of carbs-glycogen gets depleted, insulin levels are reduced; as insulin sensitivity improves it allows the body to transport blood sugar more efficiently. Insulin serves as a carrier hormone for carbs, protein, and fats into cells.
In the absence of calories, the life-sustaining mode, in which protective genes responsible for cellular repair and protection are activated, inflammation is reduced, and anti-oxidative defenses are increased.
Thus, regular fasting activates a beneficial genetic pathway, which stimulates mitochondrial growth, enables cellular repair, and aids detoxification to support overall longevity. It induces reduced oxidative stress which lowers inflammatory conditions in the cells and the tissues. The process of apoptosis, programmed cell death, is refined, eliminating damaged cells that can lead to the development of cancer.
This means that simply going without food for a while may have anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumor benefits that are available to anyone, at any time. Intermittent fasting could serve to be manageable and sustainable than daily caloric restriction. It may be possible to increase fat loss and minimize muscle loss by adding exercise of moderate intensity and leading to improvements in the body composition.
Fasting is ill-advised for people with insulin-dependent diabetes, low blood pressure, history of eating disorders, suffering from ulcers, are pregnant or breastfeeding, elderlies, children and adolescents, and those who are onto medications to be taken with food such as insulin, blood thinners, and NSAIDs. Plenty of water and fluids, consuming electrolytes consisting of sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, small meals of simple and easy to digest well-cooked foods which are chewed well – aid the system when on and off a fast. It is vital to ensure the body is not starved of essential nutrients for too long, with a supply of potent dry fruits like dates, figs, almonds.
Traditional fasting during festivities and for religious reasons are conducted at the community level which enhances the positive effects by keeping the mind engaged in higher pursuits in an encouraging environment.
Fasting also provides a psychological benefit of conquering the fear of hunger. It gives a chance to push through the discomfort of mild hunger to discover the clarity and freedom on the other side. It can reinvigorate the whole relationship with food and give a greater sense of balance, control, and enjoyment.