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Sudha Umashankar, The Hindu / August 13, 2011.
Fruit juice is allowed during a liquid fast... Photo: Special Arrangement.
Fasting is said to bring a host of benefits, provided it's done under medical supervision. Doctors explain how to go about it.
Food is to the body what fuel is to a motor vehicle. It provides energy, helps repair and rejuvenation and confers many other benefits. While excess of food and gluttony is not good, occasional fasting does the body a world of good, provided one undertakes it under medical supervision and follows some basic guidelines. Here's what some doctors have to say on how to go about it.
Does occasional fasting have any benefits?
Dr G. S. Sainani, Director, General Medicine Department, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai: When one fasts, the digestive organs get rest and all body mechanisms are cleansed. While fasting, the natural process of toxin excretion continues, while influx of new toxins is reduced. The energy usually used for digestion is redirected to immune function and cell growth. Fasting helps you heal with greater speed, cleanses your liver, kidneys and colon, purifies your blood, helps you lose excess weight and water, flushes out toxins, clear the eyes and tongue and cleanses the breath.
Dr. Issac Mathai, Chairman, Managing and Medical Director, SOUKYA International Holistic Health Centre, Bengaluru: Fasting, even occasionally, helps in de-toxification. Through fasting we restrict digestive activity and so energy is utilised to cleanse different systems. Fasting improves metabolism sharpens the senses, calms the mind, helps lose weight, improves general immunity, improves concentration and mental clarity.
Dr. Kousalya Nathan, Age Management Consultant, Huma Hospitals, Chennai: Fasting, if understood and done under supervision, has tremendous benefits and impacts one at various planes; mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. Specifically it serves as an aid to effective detoxification, helps in repair and rejuvenation, offers rest to the gastro-intestinal system and promotes mobilisation of excess fat.
The crucial point to note is the difference between fasting and starvation. Research suggests there are major health benefits to calorie restriction. Among other things it slows down the aging process. According to the US National Academy of Sciences, other benefits include stress resistance, increased insulin sensitivity and increased lifespan.
Dr. Sanjiv Rao, Head, Department of Medicine, Manipal Hospital, Bengaluru: I am not aware of benefits conferred by occasional fasting. No benefits accrue from consuming calories in a liquid form rather than solid form.
What are the risks if the fast is continued for a long time?
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