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Fasting: Types & Benefits

Fasting is used to lose weight, treat & identify medical conditions, cleanse and detoxify the body and has historically been practiced by various religions. During the Islamic month of Ramadan, majority of Muslims all over the world fast during the daylight hours. Fasting is a means of taqwa, guarding oneself from evil, and encompasses moral and spiritual practices by abstaining from lawful food, drinks, and sexual relations.

Proven medical benefits of fasting:

  1. Great time for our digestive system to get some rest and revitalize  
  2. Decrease in blood sugar levels – World Journal of Diabetes found intermittent fasting to improve blood sugar levels in type-2-diabetes (1)
  3. Lower bad cholesterol and triglycerides(2)
  4. During the first week you will be surprised at how little food you actually need to be full. For some people it can lead to the whole new way of consuming food.
  5. Normalize ghrelin levels, the hunger hormone, after a the first few days of fasting
  6. Chance to get your body in shape as it is a tool for weight loss. Research done in 2012 by Menopause and in 2015 by Nutrition Reviews found fasting alternating days trimmed boy  weight by 7% and decreased body fat by up to 12 pounds(3,4).
  7. Lower coronary heart disease risk by decreasing fat mass (5)

 

There are also mental benefits of fasting during Ramadan such as opportunity to be in state of self-discipline and self-control, evaluate even small things differently, and avoidance of anger.

 

Types of Fasts

The type of fast you choose should be appropriate for your level of health, body chemistry and any special physical needs you may have. Before implementing a fast, consult with your Naturopathic Doctor or Nutritionist.

Religious fast

  • Involve restriction on food and drinks, from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from sexual relations, and challenging oneself to become closer to God.

Water Fast

  • Only pure water is consumed, about 2 quarts per day. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reported in 2002, water fasts showed success in normalizing blood pressure.

Partial Fast

  • Exclude foods such as rice, wheat, or meats. Includes some solid food and restrict amount of food to less than 1-3 complete meals.

Liquid Protein Fast

  • Used for weight loss in obese patients which can help lose anywhere between 10-100lbs. Should be medically supervised,

Diagnostic Fast

  • Abstain from eating or drinking anything except water for 8-12hrs prior to testing purposes. Example, fasting glucose tolerance test.

Cleansing Fast

  • Cleanse the colon of food and toxins by using liquid drink which containing lemon juice, simple sugar, and cayenne or other spices. Drink 6-12 times daily. Can last one to 14 days. Longer fasts should be supervised.

Intermittent/cyclic Fasts

  • Basically a fast which involves eating and not eating phases. Ranges from 14-18hrs. Shown to stabilize blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and improve heart health.
  • Alternating fast – eating every other day
  • Warrior Diet – eating only fruits and vegetables during the day and one large meal at night
  • Eat-Stop Eat – picking one or two days in the week and fast for 24hrs, eating nothing from dinner one day until dinner the next day. On other days, you should have normal calorie days.
  • 16:8 Fasting/ Time-Restricted Feeding – fast for 16hrs everyday and limit eating to eight hrs.
  • 5:2 Diet – five days of the week eat normally then remaining two days you fast restricting calories to between 500-600 a day.

 

Consult a Nutritionist or Naturopathic Doctor before starting any type of fasts.

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