Fasting · 10 April 2013

In and of itself, fasting can provide lots of food for thought. I came to this ironic conclusion after my wife made me watch a PBS show called Eat, Fast and Live Longer with Michael Mosley.

There were several ideas brought forth by the show, but the main theme was that calorie restriction provides great health benefits, especially reduction of risk factors for cancer and other diseases. The host of the show decided that he was going to do some fasting to help himself lower some of his risk factors such as cholesterol. Mr. Mosley tried a true fast of three days and four nights. He tried an every other day “fasting” program where he severely restricted his calorie intake to around 600 calories every other day and ate what he wanted the rest. In the end, he opted for an eating regime that included “fasting,” again severely restricting his intake, two days per week.

I was a bit taken aback. My first thought was these programs are just more fad diets. Long term studies may or may not find true health benefits for people who choose these eating/fasting regimes. But regardless of what studies find, I do not think that people could do these plans on a long term basis unless they restrict their caloric intake every day as some of the first people Mr. Mosley interviewed. And while I found the concepts interesting, I did not think there was much applicability to people who want to pursue athletics.

Even though I was skeptical of the ideas brought forth by the show, there are true benefits to fasting. After all, one of my sons pointed out that fasting must be okay because it is Biblical. When I have done it, I have found fasting to be a great spiritual discipline. It clears the mind and spirit and opens us up to hear God’s voice.

Fasting also cleanses our bodies. The show demonstrated some drastic changes in the host’s body chemistry as he practiced some of the regimes. Some of the effects were short term as when he went on the three day fast. Those short term benefits are where my own experience agrees with fasting for health reasons.

Sometimes I use fasting to cleanse out my body. I have at times fasted after I have been on a sugar binge, or eaten too much white food, or have just indulged myself with too much food. Fasting in this way has worked to reset my system. It gets me out of my poor eating ways.

When all is said and done, my wife might be right. Having watched the PBS show might have given me another bit of ammo in my health arsenal. But I do not plan on trying or advocating an eating/fasting program. I plan to keep fasting as a spiritual discipline and a system reset device.

Maybe my uses of fasting are not as dramatic as the systems shown on the PBS show, but like the show, they still provide food for thought.

© 2013 Michael T. Miyoshi

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