Fasting and Ayurveda – Some basic guidelines

Fasting purifies both body and the mind. The fasting process mainly helps in removing the body of accumulated toxins. With fasting, the body gets sufficient time to relax, purge out toxic matters and grant a new, or rather renewed lease of life to the body organs.

Fasting is associated with religious tenets, and also considered by the God-fearing. Nobody would flout tenets and directives of religion and holy books. In order to have a successful and complete fast, the ‘will’ to do must be supported by strong determination.

Fasting does not mean starvation. During the seven days of the week, abstain from use of one essential element, like for instance, fruits, salt, protein, sugar, saturated oil, spices, chillies, carbohydrates, cereals, drinking or smoking. Another method is to allot a day each to fast exclusively on fruits or fruit juices, or milk, curd, etc.

Fasting is a healthy and natural way to purge, disinfect and deodorize the body from almost all toxins and foreign matter deposits and filth from body system. When the body is free from all such undesirable elements as mentioned above, mind will also attain a state of ecstasy and happiness. Fasting therefore, offers an upbeat mood to mind, body and intellect.

Some guidelines for fasting:

  • Fasting does not imply giving up foods taken on daily basis. Instead, a food item can be given up for a day. This will also help to break the habit of dependence on one particular food item, although for only a day in a week.
  • Growing children, pregnant women, weak and undernourished, underweight people, the elderly and hypo-diabetics (who suffer from low blood sugar), low blood pressure, labourers, should not take to fasting, as their physical disorders may aggravate and worsen.
  • During the day of fasting, a teaspoonful (5ml) of honey, mixed with lemon water should be taken with water three to four times a day, so that the body retains its natural vitality, and so that there is no accumulation of gas. Else, at least stick to drinking tender coconut water.
  • The person who is on a fast can live on milk and seasonal fruits or only fruits on the day of fasting, apart from use of honey and lemon juice. Further, juices of fruits and vegetables are excellent diets for people who fast. Banana and milk diet is also a well-balanced, nutritive and healthy combination, apart from lemon juice and honey.
  • Fasting helps in a smooth change-over to other foods, but excessive intake should be avoided at any cost.
  • Another way of fasting is to impose self-imposed dietary regimen. Have a normal breakfast of milk and seasonal fruit, skip over your lunch and have near-normal dinner. A gap of 12 hours or so, should be given between breakfast, and dinner, as it is an ideal way to semi-starvation or moderate fasting. However, care should be taken to note that dinner menu is not loaded with sugars, salt, fats and spices, although there is no harm in their moderate use.
  • Sufficient water should be taken when fasting during summer else, the body may not be able to withstand ravages of summer heat. Similarly, even during other seasons, the water-sodium balance should never be disturbed during a fast.
  • People suffering from Tuberculosis, epilepsy, ulcers, and cancer should not resort to fasting.
  • Fasting should not be extended beyond two or three days a week and fasting should never be taken on successive days. There should be a gap of at least a day or so in between each fast.

It is said that man should learn a lesson from animals, as they never eat during the period of illness, and are led by the taste of their palate. However, we tend to overeat when not required, or under-eat when needed. Animals are led by their in-built intuition, unlike man who is driven by his own discretion. Most of the diseases of animals are cured by abstaining from food.

Fasting is meant for better health and not to create new problems on health front. Hence, if there is any odd symptom during or after a fast, then the fast should never be stretched any further. When fasting, all normal works and daily chores can be continued as usual.

Ayurveda emphasizes that fruit and vegetable diet is the best diet when fasting, followed by milk. A non-vegetarian diet should be avoided during a fast.