Intermittent Fasting: Benefits, Trends, Spirituality and Dangers
“All the vitality and all the energy I have, come to me because my body is purified by fasting.”
~ Mohandas Gandhi
So, What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term for various eating diet plans that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting over a defined period. Extreme plans might have you skip food entirely for up to 24 or 36 hours at a time. On others, you might consume all of your calories within an 8-ish hour period throughout the day, and then fast the remaining hours. As far back as the 1930s, scientists have been exploring the benefits of reducing calories by skipping meals. One scientist found that significantly reducing calories helped mice live longer, healthier lives. More recently, researches have found the same in fruit flies, roundworms and monkeys. Studies have also shown that decreasing calorie consumption by 30 to 40 percent (regardless of how it’s done) can extend life span by a third or more. Plus, there’s data to suggest that limiting food intake may reduce the risk of many common diseases. Some believe fasting may also increase the body’s responsiveness to insulin, which regulates blood sugar and helps control hunger.
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Intermittent Fasting Benefits
IF can lower your risk for disease, improve the health of your brain, lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and it can reduce the chance of obesity. Some studies show that intermittent fasting can reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
Alternative medical doctors, who are trained in both eastern and western medicine might be able to understand your specific needs so they can prescribe the type of fast to give you the benefits you’re seeking, while also preventing you from hurting yourself.
While intermittent fasting is not a cure-all, and the data is based mainly on scientific trials focused on mice, many agree that intermittent fasting does wonders.
Many say it can:
- Ease depression
- Improve memory
- Increase vitality
- Reduce inflammation
- Reduce your weight or slow weight gain
- Reduce the growth speed of cancer
- Protect your neurons
- Remove damaged brain cells and generate new ones
- Help reduce attachment to emotional and psychological luggage.
- Improve your experience when praying and meditating
In general, even a little fasting here and there is shown to have positive effects. If you have gut issues or adrenal fatigue, proceed with caution.
The Dangers of Intermittent Fasting
It’s important to be knowledgeable about the risks as well as the benefits of IF.
Studies have shown that some types of intermittent fasting, if done incorrectly, can cause a person to have a net gain in weight. When you fast for a couple of days, and then binge on desserts, pasta and junk, it may do more harm than good.
IF may increase insulin levels, cause unnecessary fatigue, and add to your belly fat. A new study suggests that intermittent fasting, while often producing positive results, can sometimes harm metabolic health and cause Metabolic Syndrome in certain cases. See your doctor to ensure that you have the proper levels of blood sugar, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein, and blood pressure.
When you conclude your fast, your body might be oversensitive to the foods you eat. Be aware of your allergies and eat only whole, natural, unprocessed foods, at least for several days. And remember to HYDRATE!
Be careful about “starvation mode,” when your body starts to conserve energy by reducing the number of calories it burns. Starvation mode can cause your body to stop losing weight, and it will most often make you feel depressed, angry, lost, confused or worse. Just in case, let a friend or family member know when you start fasting, and ask them to keep you aware of any changes they notice. Sometimes our close inner circles can see negative effects on our moods before we notice them.
Intermittent Fasting Science
One of the most remarkable benefits of intermittent fasting is that it has a positive effect on your mitochondrial networks, the fuel for your cells, by helping it remain fused. This undoubtedly improves energy, which can have positive effects on memory, longevity, and health challenges related to aging.
While intermittent fasting is trending, and many people are posting positive effects from their fasts, the research on human subjects isn’t abundantly clear.
The hope is that intermittent fasting isn’t just a fad and that it has proven, lasting effects. Fasting research is on the rise. The hope is that more and more trials involving humans will be funded.
When the body is cleansed, the spirit is uplifted. The two go hand-in-hand. Fasting allows our souls to be less attached to our bodies and minds. It improves our vibration and helps us feel more connected to ourselves and others.
Almost every spiritual and religious tradition in the world mentions fasting as an essential activity for spiritual growth. It’s found 87 times in the Bible. Socrates and Plato fasted so they could purify their minds and spirits in pursuit of the truth.
Native Americans fast either in private or during public rituals. These fasts generally include abstinence from food and water, and often enhance spiritual visions. In addition to a clearer state of mind and heart, fasts are also a way to rid the body and spirit of toxins accrued when interacting with society and the everyday world.
Kundalini Yogis encourage regular fasting because it allows the spirit to traverse the chakras and connect with the eternal consciousness. This allows energy to flow through the body without hindrance. When done in conjunction with Kundalini yoga, intermittent fasting can also improve the immune system.
Feeling bright and awake allows our spirits to connect to several dimensions and to vibrate at higher frequencies. This, in turn, improves our health and relationships.
As always, consult your body first. What might work wonders for one person, might have the opposite affect on another. If you have any medical conditions or special dietary requirements, it’s smart to consult a doctor before giving intermittent fasting a shot.
Anyone who tries it should also plan to be highly self-aware while fasting. If it’s not agreeing with you, or if you need to eat a little something to hold you over, DO IT! The idea is not to feel deprived. It does takes our bodies time to adjust, and some require more than others. Keep in mind that hormones can make it harder for women to follow a fasting plan than for men. If it doesn’t make you feel better, try something different, or accept the fact that maybe fasting isn’t for you.