Water fasting: A new trend

Water fasting is a type of fast in which there is an absolute cessation of food consumption while consuming water only throughout the day. It can last for 24-72 hours at maximum and water fasting beyond this should require medical supervision. 

This type of fasting is believed to improve health and can help motivate a healthy diet and lifestyle changes. It has been shown through ancient to modern researches that this type of intervention can stimulate physiological effects that are potentially favorable to health. These include enhanced ketogenesis, modulated hormone activity, reduced inflammation and oxidative stress symptoms. Also includes lipolysis, autophagy, and improved physical and emotional well-being. 

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History of water fasting:

The origin of water fasting for health dates back the development of the present forms of animal life. The first records of human fasting for the remedy of disease go back to the ancient civilizations of Greece and the Middle East. ​The ancient Greeks were great believers in fasting.  

In the past, Socrates (philosophers) fasted for 10 days at a time to attain mental and physical efficiency. Many ancient people used water fasting as a source of treating many types of diseases.

For instance, the ancient Egyptians treated syphilis with fasting cures. And, the great Greek physician, Hippocrates, prescribed fasting during critical periods of disease. Asclepiades and Thessalus employed fasting; Celsus used it in the treatment of jaundice and epilepsy, and the Arab physician, Avicenna, prescribed fasting for three to five weeks at a time.

In Germany, Dr. Adolph Mayer asserted that “fasting is the most efficient means of correcting any disease,” and Dr. Moeller wrote that “fasting is the only natural evolutionary method whereby through a systemic cleansing you can restore yourself by degrees to physiologic normality.”

History thus shows considerable evidence of scientific and clinical work done to determine the effects of fasting. The therapeutic measure of water fasting is not a new idea and has been recognized and studied by brilliant minds for centuries.

What things to keep in mind while preparing for water fasting?

Before anyone wants to try their hands at water wasting, it’s a good idea to learn more about the dangers and risks associated with water fasting. This is more important for those people who are suffering from Diabetes, Kidney disease, Pregnant and/or breastfeeding, Eating disorders.

Here are steps you need to take to safely practice water fasting for weight loss or better overall health.

1. Prepare your body:

For water fasting, it is really important that you prepare your body well. Especially if you have never fasted before in your life. The best way to prepare is to start reducing your meal portion sizes, or you could try replacing a meal with water. You can keep doing this for a few days to see how well your body is adapting the water fast.

2. Stick to 24–72 hours only:

You should only stick to 24-72 hours of water fasting without any medical supervision. More than 72 hours can be dangerous to your health. 

3. Best to try it during your weekend or day off:

Water fasting is not for everyone as it may cause weakness and dizziness in some people. It is best to try water fasting on your weekend or day off especially if your job requires a lot of physical and mental effort. 

4. Resist eating a big meal just after your fasting:

It is normal that you will be famished by the end of your water fast and will feel the urge to consume a large meal. But you should resist the urge to do that just after your fast as it may cause some adverse effects such as bloating or other digestive problems. Instead of doing that, you can opt to break your fast with a light meal. And best to increase the portion size gradually throughout the day.

What can you eat while water fasting?

You can only drink water for the duration of the fast.

What you cannot eat while water fasting?

It is a fast during which all food and drink except water are restricted. That means no coffee, no tea, no alcohol, no zero-calorie sports drinks, or any other beverage. This also means no food.

What are the potential benefits of water fasting?

The list of health benefits of water fasting are as follows:

It may promote autophagy:

“Auto” means self and “phagy” means eat making it to “self-eating.” In other words, autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells in order to regenerate newer and healthier cells. For instance, it may prevent the accumulation of damaged parts of your cells which can be a risk factor for many cancers. 

May help lower blood pressure:

It has been shown that medically supervised water fast may help people with hypertension lower their blood pressure.

May improve insulin and leptin sensitivity:

Insulin and leptin are two important hormones that affect the body’s metabolism. Insulin helps the body to store nutrients while leptin helps the body to feel satiety. Many research shows that water fasting can make your body more sensitive to leptin and insulin. Greater the sensitivity, more effective your bodily hormones.

For example, being more insulin sensitive means your body is more efficient at reducing its blood sugar levels. Meanwhile, being more leptin sensitive could help your body process hunger signals more efficiently, and in turn, lower your risk of obesity.

Helps you in getting a healthier skin:

Water fasting improves hydration and elasticity which in turn will get you a healthier skin. It also activates metabolic pathways that protect your body from oxidative damage and aging.

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