Intermittent fasting helps to cleanse and fire up Agni!
Modern lifestyle encompasses a fast paced life, where we do not always have the luxury to eat in a quiet and relaxed set-up. Along with the wide presence of processed foods, limited time to eat, and irregular food habits often makes us consume fairly heavy food, putting stress on our digestive system. As a result of this, our digestive tract is not able to assimilate all what is consumed and more often than not there is partial accumulation of residual matter leading to build up of “AMA“, depletion of Agni, weight gain, lethargy, and all related health disorders. In such conditions, fasting becomes highly relevant as it helps reduce the stress/activity of digestive system and also help cleanse the deposited residues.
While, it is highly lucrative to leave the food altogether and go on permanent fast for weight loss and to address related health disorders; Ayurveda suggests against long and persistent abstinence from food. Ayurvedic fasting or Upvasa principles involve intermittent breaks from food, and or consumption of light foods leading to slow introduction of heavy (raw, protein rich, fibre rich) foods in our meals. Additionally, Ayurvedic fasting involves eating food at specified timings.
Types of Fasting in Ayurveda
Ayurvedic fasting follows the principles of Depletion therapy. It is focussed towards cleansing of body and firing up the Agni, leading to increase in energy levels. In Ayurveda, fasting is contraindicated in very young, elderly, emaciated, pregnant lady, and shortly after strenuous exercise. Once the process of fasting is followed properly, it should help to:
- Increase Ojas / Energy levels of the body and mental clarity
- Removal of health disorders such as gas, bloating, indigestion etc.
- Regular bowel movement without gas disorder
- Clean and odourless breath and tongue
- Appearance of sweat
Ayurvedic fasting involves:
- Consumption of light foods such as Khichadi
- Consumption of fruits and vegetables only
- Abstinence from food and liquids
- Abstinence from solid foods only
In Ayurveda, one should fast per their body type or Dosha as this would allow one to get the balance back and help pacify aggravated Dosha. Ayurvedic fasting is practiced intermittently such as once a week or few times in a month or by skipping a meal (usually dinner) during some days.
Benefits of fasting
Fasting has many benefits. Apart from the religious dogma associated with it, it is beneficial for the healthy being and for the proper functioning of all the processes of the body.
- It increases the number of white blood cells. White blood cells are important to fight foreign agents and make immunity stronger.
- It starts detoxification that cleans major toxins from the body.
- It boosts the immunity.
- It also helps in losing extra muscle and fat. It is always defined as loss of body matter.
While it is taken as the precautionary and remedial way of healing the body, fasting should be carefully practiced to get the health benefits and not pacify the Agni. Therefore, Ayurveda never suggests zero fasting as it can lead to depletion of tissues, energy, and digestive fire; thus putting bodily systems into trouble. While inadequate fasting may lead to aggravation of Kapha Dosha; excessive fasting can lead to aggravation of Vata Dosha and related health disorders.
It must always be done seeking advice from Ayurvedic expert and trainers. If fast is not done according to body type it can act as a deteriorating factor. To have a beneficial result from fasting one must keep in mind the kind of type of dosha that leads one’s body.
There is a saying that one must know his/her body to take care of it. This is the theory that Ayurveda applies for fasting and that is what we believe at Medhya.