Some food for thought: Benefits of fasting

Fasting directly impacts gut health, which is connected to almost every single disease, either directly or indirectly.
Image used for representational purpose.
Image used for representational purpose.

Is there a natural method to rejuvenate your body, like a magic button? Yes, there is, and it is called fasting. It involves not consuming any food or beverages for a specific period, depending on what suits you. Plain water may be permissible if you choose wet fasting.

What can fasting do? 

Fasting directly impacts gut health, which is connected to almost every single disease, either directly or indirectly. Conditions such as alopecia, premature greying, psoriatic scalp, cognitive decline, tooth decay, bad breath, ulcers, thyroid issues, heart problems, acne, inflammation, and even obesity are connected to the gut.

When it comes to improving gut health, there are various things one can do, such as adding probiotics and prebiotics. The best way to start, however, is by utilising your body’s intelligence. It is not always about adding more to your diet or workout regimen for better results. Sometimes, removing or limiting certain things, so that our gut can restore its microbiome, can be equally beneficial.

What happens when you constantly nibble? 

When you have a meal, your gut initiates the digestion process, which can take three-five hours. When you snack between meals, your digestive system never gets to rest and clean itself. It is constantly working to produce acids and digestive enzymes.

This not only affects your stomach but also other organs, including the liver and kidneys. Even if it is a healthy snack, your stomach still needs to break it down. This hinders your body’s natural intelligence in performing its best functions, such as digesting, cleaning and resting. Most of us eat and snack out of habit. How many of us step back and ask ourselves, “Am I truly hungry?”

Ways to approach fasting 

1. Fasting between two meals: You can fast for three-four hours between meals to give your gut a break. 

2. Fasting post-dinner: Fasting between your dinner and the next day’s meal can also be therapeutic. The duration can vary from 10 to 12 hours, or even longer. If you have your dinner close to sunset, you align yourself with the circadian rhythm, which can be even more powerful. But if you have acidity issues and cannot maintain long gaps, address that first.

Things to keep in mind

 1. Move out of the box: The period to go without food does not have to be excessively long or follow trendy patterns like 16:8 or 18:6 to be effective. Don’t confine yourself to a specific window; find what suits you best. Extended fasting may be necessary for certain individuals and conditions, but it is not a requirement for everyone.

2. Fasting in a rhythm: Set fixed meal timings and let fasting revolve around them. Our body functions are based on rhythms, and fasting cycles should align with that.

3. Fast the right way or not at all: The method I am referring to does not involve consuming coffee, soda, or spritzers. You can choose to fast with or without water, depending on what feels most comfortable. 

When your gut feels rejuvenated, your whole body benefits. Taking the first step of fasting can lead to improvements in your skin, mood, clarity of thought, memory, and more.

Coutinho practises in the field of Holistic Nutrition - Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, Founder of Luke Coutinho Holistic Healing Systems

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