In this post, we discuss what is fasting? What its role in religions with some benefits.
Fasting is not starvation
Fasting is the controlled voluntary abstinence of food for different reasons. You can do it for spiritual reasons, you can do it for health reasons, you can do it as a political protest or any reason. It is still called fasting. It’s not the same as starvation. In fact, if you look back through all of the recorded human history people have always fasted.
We can start with Hippocrates who is considered the father of modern medicine. He famously said, “Our food should be our medicine, our medicine should be our food.” But to eat when you are sick is to feed your sickness. What is he talking about is this idea that we have a fasting instinct, that this is something that we instinctually do. Think about when you get sick. When you have a cold when you have flu, whatever. The last thing you’re thinking about is ea/ng at a big buffet. It’s something that naturally comes to us, our bodies are designed to fast.
They’re designed to store food in times of availability and during times of scarcity to release it. And that’s just what comes naturally to us and it’s not just us, but all animals have the same ability. So is not something unnatural, is not something that we’re just trying to force on our bodies. This is something natural and good.
Religions and fasting
Other people that liked fasting include Benjamin Franklin, who was world-renowned as one of the smartest men who had ever lived. What he said was very wise indeed. He said the best of all medicines is resting and fasting. Resting, which is freedom from stress, relaxation, and fasting which is designed to cleanse the system, which is what used to be called the cleanser or purification. Well, those are the two best medicines. Not drugs, not surgery. Resting and fasting.
Mahatma Gandhi also said a genuine fast cleanses the body, mind, and soul.
Jesus Christ said Satan and his plagues may be cast out only by fasting and prayers. So if you look at the Christian faith you can see that there are many, many prescribed periods of fasting all throughout the year. Yes, there are going to be times when you are going to be feasting or when you’re going to be celebrating, and that’s a balance. But these periods when you’re fasting to cleanse the body, to cleanse the soul.
Buddhist monks also do the same sort of thing, but they do that on a daily basis. Very typically they’ll fast from noon until sunrise the next day. So every day there’s a very prolonged period of fasting. In addition to that, they also have periods throughout the year. When they’ll only have water-only fast and that will help them cleanse themselves for the year.
The Muslim faith has also very profound believers in fasting. The prophet Mohammed said fasting brings us to the door of his palace. Many people have heard of the holy month of Ramadan. During that period Muslims would fast from sunup until sundown every day for an entire month.
In fact, that’s something that’s deeply intrinsically beneficial and we know this from the science that there are so many benefits. Benefits for weight loss, for insulin sensitivity, and type II diabetes, for heart disease, for cancer, for liver disease, and also just to feel better, for mental clarity. There are so many amazing benefits.
Everybody’s always worried about fasting. They’re always worried, “Well can I really do it?” Well, think about this for a second. Consider all these religions, Christians, Muslims, Buddhist, Mormons, all of these people. All of these people are fasting on a regular basis every year for their en/re adult lives. So can you do it? Well, millions of people do it. There’s no reason why you can’t do it.