Are There Health Benefits to Fasting?
Some chiropractors and other natural healing disciplines suggest fasting from time to time as a means to cleanse the body and rid it of toxins, so it functions better.
Critics of fasting say that it starves the body and that regular sleeping and periods in between eating are enough to give the digestive system the rest it needs.
So…whom do we believe?
Fasting has been practiced for centuries, for both religious and therapeutic reasons and is well documented in biblical accounts. It involves the voluntary abstinence from all substances, except pure water, for a certain period. While most healthy individuals can tolerate a one to three day fast on their own, fasts of a longer duration should take place with the supervision of a trained health care professional to coach you through the process.
What Are the Benefits?
Benefits associated with fasting may include
- Provides the digestive system with a rest from its daily activities, just as we need to take a vacation from our jobs.
- Cleanses the body by eliminating harmful toxins.
- Allows the body a period of rest for meditation and spiritual development.
- Introduces a period of transition (i.e., weight loss, overcoming addictions, shift from meat eating to a vegetarian diet, etc.) to the body to gear up for it.
Of course, fasting is not advised for pregnant or nursing women, those with a life-threatening illness (cancer, AIDS), and those with diabetes or liver disease. Individuals on prescription medications should check with their doctors prior to initiating a fast.
What About Research?
Studies conducted by Mark P. Mattson at the National Institute on Aging on mice concluded that fasting has beneficial effects on the aging process as well. Mattson said an earlier study found that mice that fasted every other day had extended life spans. A new experiment found the mice also did better in factors involved in diabetes and nerve damage in the brain similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers presented information at the 2014 American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions that fasting reduced cholesterol levels in prediabetic people over extended periods of time. Although more in-depth study is needed, these findings lay the groundwork for future study.
Fasting may not be for everyone, but if you’re interested in discussing this or other options for cleansing your body, give us a call.