The concept of fasting has been with us for centuries in conjunction with many well-known religions like Christianity, Hinduism and Taoism and although there are arguments for the practice there is an assortment of arguments against fasting as well.
Purpose of Fasting
Religions around the world use fasting as a technique to cleanse not just the body of impurities but the soul as well. Fasting was one of several rites used by religious groups to originally abstain from the physical. The purpose was to symbolically mimic death or, depending on the religion, the time before birth.
Fasting in more recent times has been for the purpose of losing weight. Fasting will release toxins from your body and cleanse your system of harmful elements. Fasting in the diet world is a way to reset your body in order to make it run more effeciently.
The arguments for fasting, other than religious, can include things like:
- Your body is overworked, fasting gives it a rest
- Your digestive system has time to reset itself and to heal
- Toxins will be eliminated
- Your body as a whole gets a break
If you take the time to eat healthy your body will not be overworked making the purpose of fasting negligible. Expecting yourself to fast for several days and being able to function runs along the same lines as trying to drive your car fifty miles when your gas tank reads empty. It's just not going to happen.
Arguments Against Fasting: Religion
In many religions fasting was a way of cleansing the spirit, a way that would allow an individual to become closer to his or her God. Religion has long since motivated people to do good things. Religion also asks you to take care of yourself body and spirit, but fasting can cause hallucinations, loss of body mass, severe kidney problems and an array of other ailments.
Fasting was meant as a way to answer those questions that religion posed. The scientific world has answered many of those questions. People are more enlightened through science and can now understand that fasting can cause more harm than good if not correctly followed or looked after by a qualified physician. Followers of many religions that condone fasting no longer observe the practice to the letter of the law.
Full liquid fasting is replaced by using juices from fruit and vegetables. Weeks of fasting cut down to a day. Only a few religions, like Muslims, still practice fasting as instructed in their religious writing. Not following the written word does not make a person less devout or faithful but shows a concern for with their personal well-being.
Arguments Against Fasting: Health and Body
Your body is your temple. It is the only one we get. If we do not take care of ourselves, we will eventually die. Fasting in the strictest sense allows a person just one thing: water. Survival is based on the "rule of three":
- You cannot live three minutes without oxygen (though this is not always true of some people)
- You cannot live three days without water
- You cannot live three weeks without food (meaning consuming nothing other than water)
These rules are based on our body mechanic. Once we are deprived of oxygen our bodies begin to convulse and panic sets in which hastens the process. The body is made up of mostly water. If we deprive it of water, we will eventually waste away and cease to exist. Food is our primary source of vitamins and minerals - the things that energize our bodies in order to function properly. Once we begin to limit our food intake our body begins to shut down. Prolonged absence of food can only serve to cause damage that simply cannot be repaired. Juice fasting is one form of fasting that allows the body to get the nutrients it needs while still maintaining an all liquid fasting.
Juice fasting is the consumption of nothing more than juices consisting of vegetables and fruit. It is done to detoxify your body. It may do just that but the side effects of the fast can be more detrimental to your overall health.
- Severe headaches, being tired, acne, body odor and bad breath, constipation and hypoglycemia
- Low blood pressure
- Kidney issues
- heart arrhythmia
Too much juice can also lead to severe intestinal discomfort followed by diarrhea. When this occurs you can become dehydrated and lose electrolytes. A long-term juice fast (one lasting more than 3 days) can lead to nutrient deficiencies with an emphasis on proteins and calcium. This means your bone density can be harmed.
If juice fasting is something you wish to try then be informed about it. Learn which juices are best and which are not. Also consider how the fast works.
Strict water fasting limits what you ingest to just plain water. This type of fast is probably one of the oldest methods and arguably one of the most dangerous. There is no doubt that you will lose weight from the fast, but other issues will most likely arise:
- Nutritional deficiencies that can leave you feeling weak and make you prone to muscle cramping due to losing minerals needed by your body like calcium, potassium, phosphorous and others
- Your blood pressure can fall leaving you open to fainting spells
- Uric acid levels can rise which will cause severe attacks of gout or even kidney stones
- Hormonal changes are also possible
- Cardiac arrhythmia
Needless to say there are quite a few problems associated with strict water fasting. If it is your belief that a water fast will help you then do so knowing the risks. If you are going to undertake a prolonged water fast (more than 3 days) then consult a physician or have one nearby that can assist you.