Water fasting has been adopted from ages as an effective detox method. Water fasting relies on the self healing nature of the human body. Our digestive system works day and night without rest. It not only has to process the food that we eat, but also has to remove the waste matter and toxins. Imagine your car that runs 100 miles every day without oil change or maintenance for a couple of years. The life of the car would be short. It is likely to breakdown anytime. That’s exactly what happens to our digestive system too. Without rest, it doesn’t get time for essential re-building or repair and the digestive efficiency can also go down.
It is observed in nature, that many animals instinctively take to fasting whenever they fall sick. They cure themselves by natural means using fasting, sunlight, fresh air and rest. They are programmed by nature to do the right thing when they are sick. Fasting, of course, is not a cure for “all problems”. But it sets a stage for the body to heal itself, without our intervention.
Water fasting is the most effective way to give a break to the digestive system. Fasting frees up energy, so that healing can begin in the body. It allows the system to repair itself and bring back the ability to digest any food. It can cure or prevent any disease that may manifest in the future.
Water fasting involves not eating anything, except taking water, for a period of time – ranging from half a day to even 40 days or more. Most practitioners do a 24-hour water fast, once every week to maintain their health. Intermittent fasting has become popular among men. Instead of water, fruit juices and other detox diets can also be used, but is not as effective.
There is a misunderstanding that intermittent water fasting can make one weak. That is not true. On the contrary, the health and vitality improves. You feel more energetic after the fast. When you start fasting, the body triggers your pituitary gland to release the HGH (human growth hormone). This hormonal surge causes your body to use more fat for energy, instead of breaking down muscle. There’s no evidence that fasting for as long as 72 hours reduces your muscle mass. Any reduction of weight is due to reduction of fat in the body.
When our digestive system is working below par, the body can no longer absorb the nutrients fully. Undigested and partially digested food forms a lining on the stomach and intestines which is called ‘Aama’ in Ayurveda. This ‘Aama’ is a toxin and can spread into the body and cause diseases. Fasting is the most effective way of reversing this process. Fasting can pull out the toxins back into the intestines and can be flushed out though the rectum. Usually, an enema is taken, as a good practice during fasting, to flush this toxin quickly out of the system. Hence, fasting directly works on the root cause of the problem and keeps the body toxin-free.
A one-day water fast is good enough to maintain the health and vigor. But what if one has chronic health problems that need to be solved? Well, then one has to take up long term fasts, anything from 3 days to 21 days or more. Most ailments can be cured by moderate diet and fasting under the guidance of an expert.
Dyspepsia and other digestive disorders like anorexia or loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, dysentery, colitis, gastritis, inflammation of bowels, etc can be cured by careful fasting. Long term fasting is known to alleviate many conditions like eczema and other skin problems, migraine, sinusitis, chronic body aches, asthma, allergies, arthritis, etc. Fasting can reverse the aging process and boost up immunity. It gives a clearer skin and better sleep. It clears the mind and make one feel light and energetic.
Please note that water fasting cannot cure diseases caused by deficiency of insufficient nourishment like scurvy and rickets, congenital problems, etc. Also long fasts are not advisable during tuberculosis, anemia and during pregnancy. People with such conditions can still be benefited by short term fasts for its vitalizing benefits.
Hence we see that for most people, water fasting can give good results. If nothing else, water fasting is known as the best way for losing weight. During the process, we get tuned into our own body. We get an insight into our bad eating habits and learn how to change these patterns. It can promote mental clarity, removes emotional blocks, gives an inner stillness and enhances spiritual awareness.
Thus, benefits of water fasting, touches all aspects of our life – our body, mind and soul.