Intermittent Fasting is quite the rage these days, but is it yet just another health fad that will fade away once its ill effects are discovered. Lets find out!
Where does the idea of Intermittent Fasting come from?
Intermittent fasting for health reasons is a concept that was first introduced in Ayurvedic texts about 5000 years ago. So its timeless and it works. Known as langhan in Sanskrit, it was the original method of detox way before the word detox found its away in our vocabulary.
What is the principle behind Intermittent Fasting?
The principle behind intermittent fasting is to give your digestive system a little break by going hungry for a good chunk, usually 16 out of 24 hours.
Our Gut often has a backlog of food and toxic fermented waste from previous meals that accumulates in the channels. When we keep loading the system with new meals, the digestive enzymes never get a chance to breakdown the backlog. As a result, our gut weakens, our liver feels an overload and a general feeling of lethargy sets in. But when we don’t put anything new in the digestive tract, we allow the enzymes to break down the toxic backlog. Once the old residue is addressed, the tropical environment in the digestive system starts breaking down tissue and fat deposits, thus the weight loss.
Does this mean that anyone can go on an intermittent fast?
Absolutely Not. Fasting is not for children or for the elderly. Neither is it for those who are emaciated, depleted, dry or suffering from eating disorders. But it works very well in these three conditions –
- If you have a lot of toxic build up in your body, usually represented by a thin white film on your tongue, a general sense of lethargy and a peculiar mouth odor.
- Or if you have had a long period of binge eating and want you give your body some time to work on the excess food.
- Or if you have unhealthy fat deposits that need to move.
How exactly does one undertake intermittent fasting?
There are many variations to an intermittent fast but the most important thing to know is that whatever you consume must be during the daytime hours, typically between 10AM – 4PM or 10 AM – 6PM. The primary reason for this is that as humans, we are diurnal mammals. Our body functions the best when the sun is out, just like all other diurnal mammals. It is when your digestive system is the most active. Also, eating early in the day ensures that you have plenty of time for digestion before you hit the sac.
Traditionally and ideally, a serious intermittent fast would mean that you go light during the day eating lentil soup (mung beans preferred here) with olive oil/ghee and carminative spices. If you wanted to add more, rice gruel, vegetable broth and cooked green vegetables could be added. And then you eat nothing once its evening.
Or you could choose to eat what you eat, but but only in the allocated daytime hours.
For how long can one go on an intermittent fast?
Depending on how you undertake the fast, one can even adopt this practice for a lifetime. The Jain Community in India, ranked as one of the healthiest communities according to some studies has been following this practice for the last 1500 years since 500A.D. However, if intermittent fasting is adopted as a long term practice, nourishing meals are important during the daytime.
If you choose to undertake intermittent fast as a short term detox, I would highly recommend consuming mung lentil soup only during the eating hours. Disappearance of the white coating on tongue, clear sinuses and a general feeling of lightness would indicate that the detox has taken place successfully.
If you feel that the the fasting is draining you out or making you light headed, its probably not for you!
Anything else I should beware of before I start?
I would recommend avoiding foods that make your metabolic activity go wild. You want to consume foods that are nourishing but release energy slowly. So avoiding excess caffeine and alcohol can be useful.
I am not a big fan of fruits either as they ferment very quickly creating chaos inside, especially during a fast. Think about how one piece of fruit thrown in your garbage can changes its stench.
Raw foods too, can leave you bloated and uneasy making fasting very difficult.
FUN FACT – Fasting has been a religious practice in the East for centuries now. The premise is that a toxin free, lighter body makes for a sharper and more peaceful mind, making meditation easier and more effective.
To sum it all up, Intermittent Fasting done right can be your ticket to a good body and a good mind!
About Nidhi Pandya
I help women overcome all types of Gut issues, naturally and permanently. My practice is based on the principles of Ayurveda as well as the current breakthroughs in the GI space. If your gut takes up more of your attention than you like, I would love to chat. So feel free to DM me.