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Benefits of Fasting – An Ayurveda View
|by Dr. Savitha Suri|
In medical terms, the word ‘fasting’ can be defined as “voluntary abstinence from consuming food for varying lengths of time.” Fasting is used as a therapy for several medical conditions. It is also a vital component of ritualistic and spiritual practices in many religions.
Almost all medical systems in the world acknowledge the therapeutic benefits of fasting. Ayurveda has catalogued and elaborated upon these benefits exhaustively. Fasting plays a key role in ensuring the efficacy and success of ayurveda detoxification therapy (Panchakarma treatments). Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, believed fasting enabled the body to rejuvenate its self-healing capabilities. Many western healers have opined "fasting is the greatest remedy, the physician within." Fasting is recommended in almost all religions as a means of spiritual purification.Fasting and Religions
According to Hindu scriptures fasting helps create a harmonious relationship between the body and the soul. Hindus believe that denying physical needs is necessary for spiritual gains. Islam has given utmost importance for fasting. Muslims observe fasting during the month of Ramadan. Prophet Muhammad has explained the benefits, significance and regulations of fasting. Christians believe that fasting helps them to deepen their relationship with god. They also believe that fasting heightens their awareness of spiritual self. Jain religion strongly emphasizes on fasting to purify our souls, improve morality, spiritual power, increase knowledge and strengthen relationships Paryushan Parva is a jain fasting festival which is observed in month of September.Physiology of fasting:
According to researchers the following changes take place in our body when we fast:
Ayurveda recommends regular, short-term fasting. Infrequent long term fasting vitiates doshas and may lead to imbalanced body functions. The fasting method must be decided according body constitution. The duration of fasting and type of fasting is determined after analyzing level of toxin (ama) accumulation, digestive strength, vitiation of doshas and body constitution. The following fasting methods are recommended in ayurveda.
A healthy fasting leads to a feeling of lightness in the body, clarity in the mind, and increased energy. It helps to regularize bowel movement and relieve constipation. Clean tongue and fresh breath indicate completion of detoxification process during fasting. It is very important to stay calm during fasting. Texts of Ayurveda strictly recommend avoiding physical exertion and mental stress during fasting.Health benefits of fasting:
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