New Delhi, Aug 7: Fasting for religious purposes is common in India. The month of Shravan has just concluded and the month of Ramzan is on - in both of which fasting is an integral part. Doctors say the practice does more than just appease the gods: it also benefits your body, if done with care.
Priyanka Rohatgi, chief clinical nutritionist of the Apollo Hospital, Bangalore, believes that religious fasting is one of the best traditional practices, since it teaches one to learn to curb one’s desires and check against transgression and extravagance.
In fact, many doctors recommend fasting for the overall goodness of your health. Ritika Samaddar, head dietician of the Max Hospital, for instance, said, “Fasting cleanses your system and boosts the good cholesterol of the body. It’s actually very healthy to fast once a week. You can have some low calorie food, like fruits and vegetables, and lots of liquid. The overall calorie consumption should be 800-1000 calories.”
Partial fasting and a restricted diet are also recommended by dieticians for those who want to lose weight. The problem, however, begins when fasting is not done with care. “Fasting followed by feasting is an open invitation to trouble. Unhealthy, fried, processed food after a day-long fast can cause problems like bloating, craving and lethargy,” Rohatgi warned. “A sudden supply of food after a fast can cause problems in digestion, so it’s better to break your fast with some light food, like fruits, and only after some time, eat more,” she added.
It’s for the same reason that doctors do not recommend complete fasting even to lose weight.
Added Samaddar: “Your brain needs constant supply of glucose and when you fast beyond four-eight hours, your body starts breaking up its own reserve. Long term fasting - like Anna Hazare’s - therefore is not healthy, because it can cause electrolyte imbalance, muscle cramps and thinning of the hair. Complete fasting to lose weight is also not a great idea because starvation leads the body to absorb all the fat and oil that you eat later. So you may actually end up putting on weight. Plus, fasting can lead to dehydration and repeated fasts can cause wrinkling of the skin. In extreme cases, it can also cause cardiac arrest.”
Going on fast is not recommended for pregnant women, lactating mothers and diabetics, among others.
Growing children and adolescents should not make fasting an oft-repeated ritual, she added. (IANS)