A health benefit if performed carefullyFasting as a medicine [Archives:2004/785/Health]

October 28 2004

By Adel al-Khawlani
Yemen Times Staff

I recently presented to you the wisdom and some general benefits associated with fasting, one of them is “health care”. This invaluable benefit compelled me to further expound it on under the title “fasting as a medicine” after referring to several medical and religious references, The fluids taken when breaking one's fast are taken into account as a crucial medicine for the digestive system to get rid of accumulating solid foods from days preceding Ramadan. Moreover, fast gives a kind of manual refresh for the human organism as well as an interval rest for the stomach.
Fasting is improperly called hunger strike. As our religion brought to our attention, it is not about starving oneself in that sense, but to not accept solid food. We replenish the body with fluids.

Maximum time
It is possible for us to go three or four days without water. Then we arrive at irreversible changes and the body begins to die. Without food, one can manage 60 or even 80 days. Of course there are extreme cases where people have survived without solid food even longer. Buddhist monks and yogis have managed it. They do not take in food, but they utilize other influences. They meditate quite a lot, and are assisted by other teachings of yoga. They can lower their metabolism and utilize the fluids of their own body – urine. That is so nutritious that they can practically live for years on it.
It is interesting that fasting brings one to not only a physical regeneration, but also to a refreshing of the actual physical cells, and an invigoration of the psyche and mind. The most significant fact is that one arrives at a great Spiritual enlightenment.
It is well known that during fast, people hear some kind of sound. They do not often realize that it is a spiritual sound and they fail to pay attention to it. On the other hand, we know all religions work with the reality that fasting increases spirituality. Therefore fasting is known to the Muslim, the Hindu, as well as to the Christian.”
It is impossible to say how many days though a round figure is recommended. One day, or thirty-six hours of abstinence is completely harmless, even healthy. It is not even considered a fast. It is just lying off the food while the body has a break from waste by-products, and not a very perfect one. I may introduce to you what presents itself during a fast, and from that we can find the answer as to how long a fast should be for it to be beneficial:
At the start of the fast, harmful substances begin to loosen in the body. Through the vocal chords for example, the voice is not so noisy in the first days of a fast. The tongue is coated; the eyes are cloudier than before. The skin loses its glow. This is all proof that the body is starting to purify itself. Let things take their course, and follow how long the cleansing takes.
After a certain period of time we discover that the body is pure – the tongue is not coated, the eyes clear, the skin gets back to normal that after a longer fast becomes somewhat darker. One feels light, as pleasant as a thirteen or eighteen-year-old. These are just some of the signs that it is time to finish the fast, that the body has been cleansed.”

Some risk caused by fasting:
Sure, in the real world it is not so easy with fasting. The most unpleasant is the first day. You want to eat the most. This is why it is recommended to start the fast somewhere on a business trip, or when overwhelmed by work responsibilities, so that the urge to eat is overlooked. The crisis usually comes on the second or third day. The healthy get it almost unaware, usually at night and lasts a few minutes, perhaps an hour, and is hardly noticed. On the other hand, the less well one is, the greater the crisis will be. Cramping may appear; the basic state of existence may worsen. Most people give in and start to eat.
In any case, during a fast, one should take some medication; of course it is necessary to consult your physician first. The point is for the body to build its own reserves and begin to work on itself. After the third day it is not a problem to maintain the fast.
We do not feel the need to eat, and may carry out our daily tasks without any significant problems. This will continue for approximately ten days. One inescapable factor is the need to take in a proper amount of fluids, at least three liters per day.
This is very important because, during a fast, we will not feel like eating. If one becomes dehydrated, then he cannot manage anything physically, nor is he willing. There is a drop into depression and lethargy. When these signals arise, it is time to stop the fasting.
The best thing is lukewarm water. Some Chinese sources state that it should be boiled.
We have made it ten days, now what are we to expect? After ten days, the vitality has only lowered by 15 percent. We still have enough energy for everyday work. Meaning that, up until day ten, one can still perform even hard physical work. Later, only work which is hard on the brain.
Finishing the fast
This is a serious moment. If the fast has gone on for 15 days or more, and we want to return to a normal diet, we have got to move step by step. Eat very cautiously the first day, food in an almost liquid state, something well-ground, or well-cooked rice. Fat should never be there, nor should there be any spices or other taste enhancers.
On the second day, something a little more solid is added, perhaps 15 grams of it. That is how we gradually enrich the food. One rule is valid: the amount of days one holds a fast, is the number of days needed to get back to the original diet. This is very important! Only later may one start to eat normally, that is, normal food, excluding as much meat as possible. If not, the original illnesses, which we just got rid of, will return.

When fasting is advised:
Fasting is excellent for the organism if it is missing vitamins. Then the body starts to produce its own, and exactly the ones, which are lacking. It improves vision, hearing, and skin blemishes disappear. Also some incurable problems disappear suddenly over a short period of time.