Fast facts on fasting: Pack it with nutritive liquids, say experts

Chennai: For various reasons, people fast or skip a meal – be it any season. The elders at homes strictly adhere to it if it has religious reasons.

When we do not consume anything for most part of the day, our body utilises the stored carbohydrate and fat to energise once all the calories from the previous night’s meal have been exhausted.

The short-term side-effects could include dizziness, headache, fatigue and low blood pressure.
On the flip side, supporting the idea with scientific reasons, there have been several researches that prove the positive effects of doing so.

In a research conducted in Utah, the authors stated that people who fast as a regular routine have less chances of developing coronary disease. The study concluded that in addition to proscription of tobacco and alcohol, observing fasting had a significant impact in minimising the risk.

Additionally, the researchers conducted a follow-up study that proved the reduction of ‘bad’ cholesterol accumulation which is a major factor of leading to heart disease. The participants recorded lower blood sugar levels.

However, experts note that people should not skip food to lose weight although it results in weight reduction to an extent as the body burns fat once glucose is exhausted. “Excessive fasting without having control over following good food habits may lead to starvation, that is highly unhealthy,” said a nutritionist.

Not everyone goes on dry fasting, a few supplement the energy by drinking vegetable/fruit juices or eat them in limited quantities. Adhering to such habits occasionally detoxifies the toxic substances absorbed due to consumption of fast/processed food, and cleans the body.

It is believed that abstaining from food breaks the dietary routine and habits such as addiction to caffeinated drinks or sugary desserts that does not add any nutrient value to the body.

Nevertheless, there is always a part of the soul that craves for coffee or tea right when the clock strikes 7 am or 3 pm. For them, experts strongly suggest to avoid the drink as it dehydrates the already thirsting body. While it may lead to short-term effects like headache, it will ease over the course and help you sustain without it.

However, fasting is not for everyone. For people with a history of health complaints, it always comes at a cost.

In general, it also has detrimental long-term impacts that could lead to damage of immune system and affect vital organs like liver and kidneys. It brings additional harm to people who are malnourished. Now that the city is experiencing a harsh summer, people should be even more careful and refuse dry fasting as it would lead to quick dehydration and might cause heat stroke.

* Cereals
* Fresh fruit juices
*Deep-fried food
* Coffee and tea
* Salty eatables


Bhavani Prabhakar