Fasting: Healthy by doing without

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Fasting with a positive effect on health

Christian Lent has been going on since Ash Wednesday, and many people in Germany are taking this opportunity to do something good for their body and mind by deliberately avoiding it. Instead of classic fasting, the omission of luxury foods such as alcohol or tobacco is often the top priority. Many people also practice avoiding certain foods, such as meat or sweets, instead of following the original fasting tradition.

If the decisive basic rules are observed in classic fasting (refraining from eating for a certain period of time), an extremely positive effect on health can actually arise. From a medical point of view, adequate fluid intake is the most important factor when fasting. In addition, an interruption of Lent is advised if physical well-being is impaired. Also, fasting should not be misunderstood as a lightning diet, but as a starting point for improving your own lifestyle. In naturopathy, fasting is used, among other things, for the accompanying treatment of diseases of the cardiovascular system (e.g. calcification of the arteries, coronary heart disease) and allergic diseases (e.g. hay fever, asthma).

Complete renunciation of fasting while fasting is generally equated with the omission of certain luxury foods and foods, fasting is a special form of refraining from food. Solid foods are taboo for therapeutic fasting. The fasting only supply the body with liquid in the form of water or tea. Before starting fasting, naturopathy provides for bowel evacuation, for example using Glauber's salt or an enema. After this provoked emptying of the bowels, a fasting cure of up to two weeks follows. By giving up solid food, the organism is converted to hunger metabolism after around two days. The body supplies itself with the existing reserves. The organism also begins to get rid of metabolic end products - the so-called slag. In order to facilitate the elimination of the slag, a liquid intake of at least two and a half liters of still water and herbal tea is provided per day. Some fasting cures also allow vegetable broth, juices or whey.

Fasting against cancer The scientific evidence on the positive health effects of fasting has so far been rather limited, but some studies have shown surprisingly positive results. For example, last year a research team led by gerontologist Professor Dr. Valter Longo from the University of South California published a study in the journal Science Translational Medicine, which provides evidence that short-term fasting before the start of chemotherapy significantly increases the tolerability of the treatment and the prospect of a cure. The combination of fasting and chemotherapy reduced the formation of metastases and led to the shrinking of cancer tumors. In the experiments on mice, fasting alone without subsequent chemotherapy had shown success in five out of eight types of cancer, said Prof. Longo and colleagues a good year ago. Fasting could therefore prevent cancer.

Do not exaggerate fasting cures Fasting is believed to have a variety of health-promoting effects, most of which have not yet been scientifically proven. Fasting is also said to generally strengthen the immune system, support intestinal cleansing, free the body of pollutants and deposits, tighten the connective tissue and lower blood lipid levels. In addition, positive effects on the psyche are expected. However, there is as yet no evidence for such assumptions. However, the adverse effects of excessive fasting cures have been documented in many cases. Professor Dr. Georg Wechsler, President of the Association of German Nutritionists, said in an interview with the "Stern" that "life-threatening complications can occur with total fasting". This can be expected in young women and men after 20 to 30 days. Fasting cures that last longer than “three, four, five days” are therefore “medically unacceptable.” According to the expert, “religious fasting” should also be limited to a few days, since traditionally “no energy, no calories, but instead only water and liquid ”. "This is of course limited to a few days because humans have no natural protein stores and we lose a lot of protein very quickly." According to the experts, in order to achieve the positive effects of fasting and to avoid any health risks urgent consultation with a doctor. (fp)

Also read:
Fasting shrinks tumors in cancer
Health benefits of Ramadan fasting
Risk of gout from fasting and diuretic diets

Image: Rüdiger (Roger) Uwe Eichler /

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