For most of us, fasting is often put under the category of “things I don’t want to do.”
And it’s totally understandable. It’s likely that all we know of fasting is the idea of people sacrificing for religious purposes and the image of bodies outlined with bones.
Neither of those are technically wrong.
Perhaps the most famous and universal references we can all make to fasting are Gandhi’s protest through fasting, and the Muslim’s yearly practice of fasting during the time of Ramadan. Read up enough on both of these things and it’s easy to realize that in both cases, fasting is used as the way to turn away from the lower frequency emotions of hate, greed, separation, and selfishness.
For the Muslims in particular, fasting is one of the paths they tread towards elevating one’s consciousness, because it’s through rising from the physical that we can go towards the realm of the spiritual – an idea shared in the practice of yoga. Indeed, the idea that a consistent state of energetic well-being is something attainable via depriving ourselves of what we think we desire is one that’s existed and practiced for thousands of years.
But beyond Islam, yoga, and even Buddhist texts, how can fasting be good for our actual physical health? Aside from aiding us on a spiritual journey, what benefits can fasting bring to the body that we live in everyday?
Nutrition researcher Kris Gunnars of AuthorityNutrition.com, lists down a few good things about occasional fasting that go beyond weight loss, and go as deep as benefiting the body at the cellular level. Here, we share two of the benefits that stood out for us.
Fasting can bring about the repair of cells, genes, and hormones
One way our body reacts to not being fed for short periods of time is to initiate cellular repair processes and the leveling out of hormones to make our stored body fat accessible and usable.
In particular, the body a) begins activating important cellular repair processes to remove waste from the cells, b) may experience higher levels of growth hormone that helps in burning fat and gaining muscle, and c) as Kris Gunnars phrases it, “There are beneficial changes in several genes and molecules related to longevity and protection against disease.”
Fasting can lower your risk for diabetes
According to studies on humans, fasting has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels and to have benefits for those with insulin resistance – markers of Type 2 diabetes.
For those already with diabetes, Kris Gunnars shares a study on diabetic rats that showed how fasting protected the subjects against kidney damage – a complication of the disease.
Though more research has to be done in this area, especially in terms of differences between men and women, these studies show that intermittent fasting is an area to look into.
To know more about the possible benefits of intermittent fasting, visit the article and read up on the cited studies. Not only can information show us why fasting is a gift to our body, it is also a way for us to feel safer.
Fasting at Bahay Kalipay
Just as healing can only come from the self, only you can know what you’re ready for.
If you choose to fast at Bahay Kalipay, you can begin by abstaining from solid food, drinking only green smoothies, water or better yet, coconut water. With either choice, you are assured of a complete set of nutrients and a good rest for your stomach.
If you’d simply like a taste of fasting, every Wednesday at Bahay Kalipay is a coconut fasting day where guests and residents alike not only fast from any other kinds of food – but also from words, music, noise, and activity.
If you’d like something much lighter, we can also support you through the deeper process of dry fasting. In dry fasting, you stop consuming food and water altogether. Making this decision can be a big one and we advise you to know more about your own body and how it will react by taking it slowly.
Whatever you choose and for however long you plan to take your fast, know that this isn’t just an exercise in abstaining. It’s also a practice in mindfulness. However you may want to fast, your body and its messages will tell you if it’s good for you and for how long you can take it.
We fast for our bodies’ health, not for our ego’s accomplishments. And if we are looking at it as part of our spiritual journey – all the more, we must look out for our ego ignoring our body’s truths.
Beyond the physical benefits a fast can bring you, it is perhaps one of the greatest practices in humble listening through adversity that we can undertake. If you choose it, we admire you already.