Fasting Therapy in Naturopathy

Fasting is abstinence from food or drink consumption, or both, for a specific period of time. The word Fast comes from Feastan in English, which means to observe. In Sanskrit fast is called Vrath. In naturopathy, it is believed that fasting is important for preservation of health. Fasting could be practiced for a long period or could be practiced with intermittent breaks. It is essential to consult a naturopath incase one wishes to proceed with a prolonged fast.

Fasting duration in Naturopathy- Duration of fasting depends on age, nature of illness and prior drug usage. Under professional guidance, fasting could be started with smaller fasts lasting two to three days and gradually duration could be increased.

Methods of Fasting in Naturopathy- Raw vegetable juices, Fruit juices and water can be consumed during fasting. While on fast, the body utilizes lots of energy and excretes accumulated waste. Alkaline juices are most appropriate for consumption during fast. Juices should be freshly prepared at the time of consumption. Readily available packaged juices should not be consumed for fasting. One should consume at least six to eight glasses of liquids every day during fasting.

Since the body eliminates accumulated waste during fasting, it is essential that appropriate rest be taken. At the time of breaking the fast, it is also essential that one resumes normal diet slowly and gradually in few days. It is not advisable to immediately start overeating. At the time of resuming normal diet, one must spend time in chewing food completely before swallowing it.

Precaution for Fasting in Naturopathy – It is essential that before observing fast bowels are empty. Enema could be taken for this purpose at the time of proceeding with fast. This will ensure that decomposition of remaining matter in bowels does not create gas. Enema can be taken every alternate day during the fasting period.

Physiological effects and Benefits of Fasting in Naturopathy- Throughout the history, several cultures have propagated fasting therapy for its health benefits. Earlier recommendations on fasting therapy were majorly based on observations, and no scientific studies were associated with them. Today, we have scientific studies which support fasting which indicate its benefits for human health through physiological and metabolic benefits.

Amongst several benefits of fasting, the most prominent ones are below:

  1. Increased insulin sensitivity which
    1. Reduces Plasma glucose and insulin concentration
    2. Improves glucose tolerance
    3. Reduces levels of oxidative stress, as is evident from reduction in oxidative damage to proteins, lipids and DNA
    4. Improves resistance to metabolic, oxidative and heat stresses
  2. Benefits gross and cellular physiology
    1. Fasting helps in reduction of body Fat and Mass, this leads to a healthier cardiovascular system, reduces incidences of myocardial infarction.  
    2. Induction of higher tolerance to stress in liver, the organ which plays a crucial part in metabolism of nutrients, detoxification of harmful substances, production of proteins responsible for blood clotting and other performs vital functions.