India is the fair of festivals and people are devotees to god from their body and soul. Different people pray in different ways and fasting is a common tradition followed by many of them. Though fasting is a religious practice, it also has a number of health benefits if done correctly. During fasting, people should restrict themselves to some particular foods and routine to reap maximum benefit of this ritual.
Benefits of fasting -
Abstaining from food can surprise you with many health benefits. Let’s get to know a few of them.
- Fasting helps to speed up metabolism which also helps in weight loss.
- Improves insulin sensitivity and blood pressure management which reduces the risk of diabetes and heart diseases.
- Boosts brain functions and reduces the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Regulates digestion and promotes healthy bowel movement.
- Detoxifies the body naturally with excessive fluids taken to keep the body hydrated.
- Improves immune system and defends the body against infections.
Here are some healthy rules people should follow while fasting -
Maintain hygiene - People who are fasting should maintain hygiene of self and the surrounding. Early morning routine of cleaning home, taking bath and worshiping God with full dedication is the best start to a peaceful fasting. It not only works on the body but also contributes to mental health. The practice of personal hygiene reduces the risk of various health problems spread through micro-organisms.
Stay hydrated - Hydrate your body by drinking plenty of water or liquids because not consuming enough fluid for a longer time can cause severe dehydration leading to organ-related problems. Try to include at least 8-10 glasses of water and other healthy fluids like buttermilk, coconut water, smoothies, healthy fruit juices, and herbal teas in your diet.
Nutritious diet - Your meal should be healthy and full of vitamins or minerals. Whatever you plan to consume should be simple and nutritious to meet your daily nutrient requirement. Few nutritious foods included in the fasting diet are dishes made of chestnut (singada) flour, amaranth (rajgira) flour, buckwheat (kuttu) flour, sago (sabudana), potato, sweet potato, groundnuts, dates, nuts, seeds, fruits, some types of vegetables, and milk and its products. While preparing fasting foods, people should use only one specific salt i.e. ‘rock salt’ also known as “sendha namak”.
Don’t starve yourself - Fasting doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself unnecessarily for the whole day. Starving can lead to hypoglycemia, severe headache, nutrient deficiency, and dehydration. On the day of fasting, you should try to consume fruits, nuts, seeds or any healthy fasting snacks every 3-5 hours to maintain the energy levels.
Don’t overfill yourself before fasting - Avoid overfilling your stomach with unhealthy stuffs before starting the fast. Having a healthy meal in dinner the previous night with high-quality lean protein, fat, vitamin, and minerals will help to provide nutrition and energy throughout your fasting period.
Stay calm and relaxed - Meditation is the best way to keep your mind calm and relaxed. It helps to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and also improves irregular heartbeat, concentration power, blood pressure, and overall blood circulation of the body to support mental and physical health during the fast.
Fasting on water - There are many people who drink only water during the fast. Those who are able to bear it can continue, but never try to stretch yourself if it seems hard on your body. Though, complete fasting every 15 days is suggested for healthy people to maintain a good metabolism.
Things to avoid during fasting -
- Make sure to avoid fried food items as the body requires more energy to digest them and can make you feel sluggish or exhausted.
- During prolonged fast, either avoid or maintain low level of workout as heavy exercises during the fast can lead to sickness and lack of energy.
- Short period of fasting is better than long fasting. Staying empty stomach for longer period of time can cause diarrhea, anemia, nutrient deficiency, and some type of gastro, liver or kidney problems.
- Always try to have fruits, instead of fruit juices.
- Limit consumption of caffeine either in the form of tea, coffee, or any soft drink.
- Avoid using packed chips, namkeen, or any other processed food items specially made for fasting.
- Avoid extra sugary foods to replace salty food items during the fast.
- Avoid negative energy, thoughts, and words.
Common symptoms after breaking the fast
Eating after a long gap can cause some uneasiness and other symptoms which include bloating, indigestion, heartburn, gastritis, acute pain of the stomach, and vomiting sensation. These usually subside after some time. If the problems persist, consult a doctor and get treated.
Final thoughts -
Pregnant or lactating women, people recovering from surgeries and anyone with underlying medical problems should avoid fasting totally. Do not discontinue your medication during the fast. If needed consult your doctor to manage the time and dose of the medicine during your fasting period.