For the past two years, my husband and I have given serious consideration to fasting. Maybe it’s the impending new year that begs us to start with a clean start. Maybe it’s the continuous grazing of rich foods for the last two months of the year. Whatever the cause, I’m fairly certain the abundance of pumpkin pie and sugar cookies had nothing to do with it. 😉
Our attempts in 2012 were completely on a whim. Mr. Crumbs made it three days on a cleanse. I couldn’t stand that weird sweet/spicy/tart concoction, so I chose to drink water.
I lasted a whopping 8 hours.
Pathetic, I know. 🙂
This year was different. We gave the idea serious thought and consideration, and knew beforehand what the purpose was. We each chose a fast, made the commitment, and saw it through to the end.
I would like to share my fasting story with you tomorrow, and my husband will share his later this week. Today I’d like to share some of the research we came across when we were contemplating fasting in the first place.
What is Fasting?
A good general definition of fasting is the willingness to stay away from something for a period of time. Unfortunately, locking yourself in the closet so you don’t eat the entire batch of ultimate chocolate chip cookies (made with coconut oil and Heath bar!) doesn’t count. 😉
What is the Purpose of Fasting?
From a nutritional stand point, not taking in food almost sounds pointless. I mean, how can the body absorb the nutrients it needs from food if we’re not eating anything?
As strange as it may sound, fasting allows our body to rest from the work that is required of it on a daily basis.
Let’s marinade about this for a minute. Our bodies require a certain amount of energy just to survive and complete the minimum requirements day to day, like thinking, breathing, beating heart, etc. When we get the flu, a sinus infection, or even a more serious chronic disease, our body must steal from a pot of energy – designated towards something else – in order to fight off the illness.
There is no specific energy reserve set aside to fight sickness and toxins. This is why we feel so run down and tired when we’re sick – our bodies are using energy to fight the condition instead of helping us accomplish our daily to-do lists.
Our digestive system is the only system we have complete control over. We cannot stop our brain from functioning or our lungs from breathing. Our hearts must function for our existence!
Our bodies require nutrients to survive, and the digestive system is necessary to get nutrients out of food. However, we can control how much that organ works by controlling how much food we intake.
By restricting our intake of food, the digestive system doesn’t have to work as hard. Less work and more play makes the body happy! 🙂
What Does the Body Do During Rest?
Since the other working parts of our body (i.e. heart, lungs, etc.) won’t require any additional “help” when the digestive system rests, our body takes the “play” energy and concentrates it towards things it wasn’t able to before – healing.
Throughout our lives we are constantly exposed to toxins that threaten our health: polluted air, polluted water, second-hand smoke, pesticides in our food, artificial colors, etc. On a day to day basis, our bodies do a fairly good job at fighting these parasites and keeping us healthy. Eating wholesome, nourishing food provides our body with the armor it needs to fight this battle.
However, over time these toxins build up inside our bodies. When our bodies are unable to fight off the invaders properly, inflammation, improper immune-system function and even tumors can result. (source)
Fasting eliminates the noxious factors associated with food (which I fear become exponentially greater in number as time goes on) and allows our bodies the opportunity to restore themselves back to properly working order. We are finally able to create proper and effective responses to ailments and chronic conditions. Our bodies can also purify its tissues, allowing the parts of our bodies that are stressed abused time to heal. (source)
How Can the Body Heal When it’s Low on Energy?
It may sound like an oxymoron – that our bodies work better when we don’t supply it with an energy source – but it’s true. Our bodies have a built-in back-up energy source – fat!
The body naturally makes fat. Some of the energy that cannot be consumed right away is stored as fat on our bodies, set aside for the distinct purpose of being available when no other energy source is provided.
However, fat is also the default plan when our bodies are presented with materials that it doesn’t know what to do with. Toxins, undigested nutrients and parasites are most often found in our fat cells.
Removing the primary source of energy for our bodies – food – forces our bodies to use the back-up source – fat. When the fat is used as energy and eliminated from the body, any pollutants or contaminants go with it.
How Long Should We Fast to Rid Toxins?
Fasts can last as little as one day or as long as 40 days. Please do not attempt any fast without first consulting a medical professional.
No matter the length, fasting is not a one-time, end-all solution. Eating real food – pure food that works FOR our bodies and not AGAINST our bodies – is the only long-term solution.
Fasting simply aids our nourishment by pressing the reset button to our digestive systems. While our system is resting, our body is healing. When the fast is complete, it’s an opportunity going forward to only consume food that continues to nourish and heal.
Does All Food Have to Be Eliminated to Achieve Healing Results?
The definition we used for “fast” makes us think we’re not allowed to eat anything at all in order to achieve even minor healing results. While drinking only water is optimal to attain the best healing results, it’s not always ideal or realistic.
You know the saying “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?” This mama needs food!
Our bodies can benefit by other types of elimination diets as well. Juice fasts, partial fasts that remove a certain food (i.e. rice, wheat, meat, etc.) and even calorie restrictive fasts all provide benefits that cannot be achieved otherwise.
The resting of the pancreas (thus a reduction of blood sugar), reduction of high blood pressure, increased life expectancy and even the prevention of cancer are just some of the incredible benefits fasting can offer. (source)
Did you know fasting can even reduce your allergies, improve your senses and help boost creativity?! What’s not to love! 🙂