Fasting is gathering more and more fans. In order to slim down, to detox, to conquer an addiction or for healing – everyone has their own reasons for trying a fast for a few days or a few weeks. So what are the health benefits, and what are the risks to your health? Read on to find out….
Therapeutic fasting supervised by doctors
Although it is not very common in the UK, it is however quite widespread in Germany and Russia. A therapeutic fast consists of going to a clinic for medical follow up over a period of ten to fifteen days. A diet based on vegetable stocks, herbal teas and diluted fruit juices is recommended. It is generally linked with physical exercise, such as walking, but also with meditation, massage and reading.
Fasting to lose weight: Caution! Danger!
The majority of people who decide to fast do so for aesthetic reasons: they want to lose weight. Be careful if you are one of these people, as you risk being disappointed. During the first week, the body will draw its energy from the muscle proteins, and then from the fat stores.
The second thing: once the fast is over, we automatically put back on the weight in just a few weeks, and we could even add a few more pounds than were there in the first place…
As a detox cure
The over-abundance of food, cigarettes, alcohol, and over consumption of sugar can sometimes lead us to a desire to fast. The body has a number of organs which filter and eliminate toxins. However, fasting can reduce bloating, gas and give the digestive system a rest following overdoing it on food or a poor diet.
Cancer fighting benefits
Fasting can help with fighting cancer. Recent studies show that such diets help sick people overcome pain. We already know that eating too much food can promote relapse of breast cancer, lung cancer and bowel cancer. By contrast, denying yourself food can lead to the secretion of endorphins after 48 hours, which helps reduce suffering.
No fasting for vulnerable populations
If you are thinking about fasting, be cautious: from 24 to 48 hours on, fasting can be dangerous for people suffering from heart problems, pregnant women, children, people suffering from chronic illnesses and people over the age of 65.
Finally, be aware that in Germany, therapeutic cures are covered by the national health insurance, while in Switzerland they are covered by private health insurance companies. This may support an economic argument: people who fast may suffer fewer illnesses than others.