Friday, January 8th, 2010

Feasting and Fasting

feasting and fastingHumans live on one-quarter of what they eat; on the other three-quarters lives their doctor.

Egyptian pyramid inscription, 3800 B.C.

If we are what we eat then fast surely helps to rectify our dietary mistakes. Fasts are normally ordained by religion, but fasting and good health share an irrevocable connect. Put simply, going on a fast provides our dietary system with that much needed vacation. All animals quit food when unwell, except humans. Fasting is one of the secrets to live long and this ancient wisdom has been interwoven with religion to interrupt our intake of food that gives much needed break to our digestive system.

Detox connection

Our body is constantly involved in getting rid of the waste products and the process is called detoxification. The organs that assist the body in eliminating or neutralizing toxins are–colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph glands, and skin. Fasting revs up the process of detoxification. When you fast you put brakes on your food intake, thereby giving your stomach rest. When your stomach rests the energy that is constantly used in digesting and assimilating food is redirected towards detoxifying your body by breaking up and discarding the toxins accumulated as a result of our lifestyle and diet practices. Moreover with no food entering the body to sustain its activities, body turns to fat to derive energy.

Normally fasting and feasting go together. This often negates the health advantages bestowed by fasting. During a long fast, five days or more your body shuts down the digestive system partially or completely. All energy is redirected, and if you have cleaned out well your intestines and stomach is clean. The system is not only cleaned of toxins, but it also cleans out the intestinal flora. Certain “good” bacteria live in your digestive tract (the intestinal flora). A thorough fast cleans out everything. You must allow time for the digestive system to prepare itself for food again.
How you should break your fast depends upon how long you have fasted.  A good rule to follow is one day of a special diet for each five days that you fast and your first meal after any fast should not be a heavy full meal.
“The special diet should only consist of dead fruit juices or herbal teas. Dead fruit juices are pasteurized juices or fresh juices that have been heated to prevent the active enzymes in it from shocking your system. While buying juices avoid sugared fruit juice.
Acid fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits are best. Grapes are also good. Natural bottled apple juice and grape juice are easy to find at any grocery store. Plain homemade yoghurt is also a good way to break fast, after fruit juices of course, advises Dr. Shikha’s Nutri-Health Team.
This only applies to fasts of five days or longer. A shorter fast will generally not destroy the bacteria or shut down the digestive system.
The kind of religious fasts we do often continues from morning to evening and is interrupted with certain food items termed as vrat ahar. Sometimes the fast allows us to eat normally like fruits, milk, with the exception of salt. However while fasting abstain from following food items:

  • White rice
  • Fried foods
  • Coffee (including decaf)
  • Tea
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Foods containing preservatives
  • Refined sugar
  • White flour
  • Margarine
  • Dairy products

Who should not fast?

  • Avoid fasting if you are running fever or are suffering from fatigue, usually because a nutritional deficit requires nourishment rather than deprivation of food.
  • Similarlypeople with life-threatening conditions should not fast, especially those who are emaciated due to cancer, TB, or AIDS.
  • Both Type I and Type II diabetics should not fast. People suffering from heart problems should avoid fasting. In case they insist on fasting it should be supervised by a doctor.
  • Pregnant women, infants, and those with kidney failure are discouraged from fasting.

 Anyone who takes prescribed medication should avoid fasting because of unpredictable reactions. People with liver disease and anaemia should avoid long fasts.

What’s in your vrat ki thali?

  1. Kuttu ke ate ki puri flour-4 poori -432.6kcal and 12 gm protein
  2. Aloo sabzi -(100 gm ) – 97 kcal and 1.6 gm protein
  3. Badam burfi ( 50 gm khoya (whole milk ) and 25 gm almond )-549 kcal and 20.5gm protein
  4. Raita (100)- 60 kcal and 3.1gm protein


Sabudana or sago is typically used while fasting. Sago has poor nutrient value and contains large quantities of starch. But in the company of milk, yoghurt and vegetables, sago becomes nutritive. Since its fat content is low it is easy to digest.

Archana Darshan

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Category: Detox
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