NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Fasting has long been a controversial subject within the field of health and nutrition due to the negative side effects such as malnutrition. However, fasting has also been used as a spiritual cleansing process for thousands of years. Despite the initial negative responses to this method of weight loss, it is recently being proven to be a safe and effective way to benefit the body and mind if done the right way.
Fasting means to abstain from food, or certain types of food, over a period of time in order to cleanse and detoxify the body. People fast for a variety of reasons, most commonly for religious reasons or weight loss. There are multiple ways to fast, such as water fasting or juice fasting. Some stop ingesting food completely for a few days at a time, while others might continue for weeks. Some fasts require the person to only drink water and eat nothing but raw foods, while other fasts allow them to eat nothing at all.
Juice fasting consists of blending different fruits and vegetables to make a type of smoothie used to replace meals throughout the day.
There is also a tremendously popular juice fast, usually used as a detox for the body, called the Master Cleanse. This method is also used and sworn by many celebrities to lose weight fast. Examples include Beyoncé, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Gwyneth Paltrow.
The Master Cleanse entails a 12-day fast in order to rid body of the toxins built up in the body from consuming junk food, greasy food, processed food, and other similar foods. Once on the diet, the person will only be allowed to drink 6-12 glasses of a liquid mixture composed of lemon, water, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup.
Fasting is not to be confused with anorexia, a wide known eating disorder common amongst young girls that can cause serious physical and mental harm.
So what benefits can anyone possibly receive from depriving the body of food?
If done intermittently, it actually speeds up the body’s metabolism, encourages rejuvenation of cells, purifies the body, enhances mental clarity, and promotes longevity.
Other research, such as a study at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Utah, demonstrated that fasting can actually lower the risk of coronary artery disease and regulate blood cholesterol levels.
There was also evidence that fasting one to two days a week help protect the brain from some of the worst effects of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, founded by researchers at the National Institute on Aging.
Predictably, with the recent studies showing the benefits of intermittent fasting, a number of health related personnel are split between being for or against this form of fasting.
“I am against fasting because nutritionists are all about regulating your metabolism,” said Joanna Chin, a nutritional sciences major in Rutgers University. “Your body tells you when you’re hungry because it signals to your brain that you need nutrients.”
“When you fast and force yourself not to eat, your body starts utilizing energy stores that are meant for emergency or stress situations,” Chin warned. “The brain, which requires a certain amount of glucose to function, will start breaking nutrients down in the body to maintain the adequate amount of glucose, putting stress on your liver, kidney, and muscles.”
Chin concluded that, despite losing the fat, the cons outweigh the pros.
Yet, on the other side of the fence, there are known doctors who think that intermittent fasting, though not necessary, is good. It helps maintain the body fat at a very low percentage and helps those who want to lose weight. To get more information, visit Dr. Berardi’s website.
However, an important piece of advice for those who want to engage in intermittent fasting is to make sure they are physically able to fast. Pregnant women and those who are suffering from malnutrition or poor health in general, should not be fasting at all. If going on a liquid fast, try to limit it to only three days row. Carefully evaluate how the body is responding to the fast to gauge how long the fast should last.
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