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Benefits of Fasting

Dr. Mukul Anand

Fasting in a larger context, means to abstain from that which is toxic to mind, body, and soul. A way to understand this is that fasting is the elimination of physical, emotional, and mental toxins from our body.


Fasting is the single greatest natural healing therapy. It is nature’s ancient, universal "remedy" for many problems. In ayurveda the main concept of ill health is "Ama" i.e. the toxins released in body due to indigestion. These toxins circulate all through the body producing harmful effects. Therefore ayurveda has set in few guidelines to maintain health. of these guidelines one is fasting.

Fasting is the avoidance of solid food and the intake of liquids only (true fasting would be the total avoidance of anything by mouth). The most stringent form of fasting is taking only water. In fasting there is abundant rest given to the digestive system, nurturing it and bringing it back to life. An overburdened stomach is allowed to relax for a meal, a day or many days in order to regain vital power to meet hectic life which otherwise is dispersed to complete body.

The way our body and mind demands rest on weekends, so as to refresh and gain new energy similarly our stomach also requires rest from the loads of toxin deposited daily in it in order to detoxify and be able to digest food completely.

Fasting (cleansing, detoxification) is one part of the trio logy of nutrition; balancing and building (toning) are the others. In a sense, detoxification is an important corrective and rejuvenative process in our cycle of nutrition. It is a time when we allow our cells and organs to breathe out, become current, and restore themselves. We do not necessarily need to fast to experience some cleansing, however. Minor shifts in the diet such as including more fluids, more raw foods, and fewer congesting foods will allow for better detoxification. Therefore another positive aspect of fasting is to allow the release of already deposited toxins in the tissue. It is during fasting only that the body uses stored energy.

Food when digested is divided into two parts: that which provides energy (Prasad Bhag)and that which is excreted (Mal Bhag). If the food remains undigested or is partially digested, due to any reason, the prasad bhag then contains a portion of unabsorbed food. This unabsorbed food forms toxins and is called Ama in Ayurveda. Ama traverses the whole body, finds a soft site, unprotected by the body immunity, easy to be infected and causes disease. Now in order to prevent toxicities of body, stomach requires at least a day off, just to digest these toxins. Therefore fasting is in a way purification of body.

Fasting in a larger context, means to abstain from that which is toxic to mind, body, and soul. A way to understand this is that fasting is the elimination of physical, emotional, and mental toxins from our body. Rather than simply cutting down on or stopping food intake. Fasting is also done spiritually, that is by not thinking, doing or saying bad. Fasting for spiritual purposes usually involves some degree of removal of oneself from worldly deeds. It can mean complete silence and social isolation during the fast that can be a great revival to those of us who have been putting our energy outward. In this way we detoxify our brain and use our energy in a constructive manner.

Paramahansa Yogananda suggested that fasting is a way to increase our natural resistance to disease, stating, “Fasting is a natural method of healing. When animals or savages are sick, they fast" Through fasting, we can turn our energies inward, where we can use them for healing, clarity, and change.

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