The term “fasting” brings up different meanings to different people.To some it holds spiritual significance whether they are Jews, Christians, Hindus or Muslims. To others, it is done on a purely physical level, the main benefit being that of healing, where the body is allowed to rest and rehabilitate, thereby flushing out toxic wastes which have been allowed to accumulate.In fact, fasting has often been called the single greatest natural healing therapy. To most, fasting is both spiritual and physical.
Whatever the reasons and objectives, there are proper ways to optimise the health benefits, in my opinion. In response to some readers’ queries on eating healthily, below are some pointers for otherwise healthy folks. Bear in mind that, in the context of medical conditions like diabetes, kidney or heart failure, advice from your care-giver is important.
In view of the long hours of fasting, one should consume slow digesting foods including fibre containing-foods rather than fast-digesting foods. Slow digesting foods last up to 8 hours, while fast-digesting foods last for only 3 to 4 hours.
· Slow-digesting foods are foods that contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour, unpolished rice, wholemeal bread,capati,naan,etc. (they are also called complex carbohydrates).
· Fast-burning foods are foods that contain sugar, white flour, etc. (called refined carbohydrates).
One should avoid:
· Excessive fried and fatty foods which will create indigestion and ‘wind’.
· Foods containing too much sugar when commencing the fast. This may cause ‘rebound hypoglycemia’ and cause a feeling of hunger and giddiness.
· Too much tea or coffee when commencing the fast. They makes you pass more urine, taking with it valuable mineral salts that your body would need during the day in addition to causing dehydration.
· Smoking cigarettes. If you cannot give up smoking, cut down gradually starting a few weeks before commencing the period of fasting.
Try to eat:
· Complex carbohydrates before commencing fasting so that the food lasts longer making you less hungry.
· Dates when breaking the fast as they are an excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium to replace that lost during fasting.
Try to drink:
· As much water or fruit juices as possible in the hours before commencing the fast so that your body may adjust fluid levels in time.This helps to prevent dizziness in the afternoon due to low blood pressure as a result of dehydration.
· One tall glass of water at the commencement of fast to minimise dehydration.