Fasting: why giving up food is so good

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The first few months of the year are an ideal time to give our bodies a thorough spring clean. Fasting has been a popular method for decades and goes far beyond a religious or cultural practice. Abstaining from food cleanses and renews our bodies.

But what is the best way to get started, and which is the most effective? In their book “Fasting for You!”, fasting experts Nicole Fürderer, Britta Kleweken, and Erik Schmelter answer the most important questions on the subject and provide numerous tips for beginners.

In contrast to diets, fasting is not exclusively about losing weight but primarily about elimination and regeneration. As no solid food and hardly any calories are taken in from outside, the body has to change completely to generate energy from itself or its reserves. To do this, the body draws on its stores and cleans out properly. Much of what is just “lying around” is finally used again. This special fasting metabolism has positive effects right down to the smallest cells and has a regenerative effect on the whole body.

What are the benefits of fasting for the body? And does it affect the psyche?

Fasting has a healing effect on the body. It turns physiology on its head and triggers many processes and reactions at the metabolic level. For example, special cleansing mechanisms are stimulated, such as the cells’ waste disposal and recycling system, known as autophagy.

Fasting has also been shown to reduce inflammation and lower high blood pressure. Common diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and osteoarthritis can be regulated by fasting. Fasting is also a wonderful preventative method for healthy people. Fasting works like cosmetics from the inside; for example, the skin becomes more radiant and alert.

Fasting can have a positive effect on the psyche. By slowing down, most fasting people become more mindful and more attentive to themselves. Most people use the fasting period as a week for self-reflection. In addition, a successful week of fasting boosts self-confidence, and the increased release of the hormone serotonin makes you feel happier.

However, people who are prone to depression or even take medication to regulate mood swings should never go ahead and fast. Talking to your doctor about the week ahead and the medication you are taking is also particularly important.

If you are healthy and there are no restrictions from a medical point of view, we always recommend the traditional method, according to the doctor and naturopath Otto Buchinger, who developed fasting as a healing method over 100 years ago. It is the best-known and most classic type of fasting. This method involves fasting exclusively with juices, teas, and broths. The duration is usually between five and ten days of fasting.

As with many things, getting in the right frame of mind during the fasting days is important. Don’t drive yourself too crazy, and go for it.

What do you need for a successful fasting week? How should you prepare?
To ensure that the body is optimally prepared for the fasting period and that fasting can be carried out successfully, it is recommended that one takes one or more days off beforehand. In practice, this means

  • Consciously getting in the mood for fasting
  • Eating more simply and reducing the amount of food
  • Slowly reduce fat, salt, sweets, meat and white flour
  • If possible, reduce demands, relieve stress and anger
  • Drink more water, eat more fruit and vegetables, eat lighter
  • Slowly reduce your consumption of coffee, black and green tea

In addition, it is recommended to abstain from everything that is not essential to life during the fast. So, as long as medication or supplements are not necessary for your health, you can leave them out and trust your body because we believe you should regularly give your body a break from everything. This is the only way to give it a chance to reset and regenerate properly.

The same applies to coffee. Coffee is a stimulant that stimulates the production of stomach acid and can trigger a feeling of hunger. Our tip: leave everything out, become independent, and see what happens.

What other rituals can be incorporated into the fasting week?
The most important excretory organs during fasting are the intestines, the skin, the lungs, the liver, and the kidneys. These organs need to be given special support during fasting to achieve the best fasting effect. You can do this in a targeted way with a few rituals:

The liver compress, alkaline baths, oil pulling, sauna sessions, exercise, and relaxation are just a few examples from the list of possible rituals, which are also listed in full detail in our book. These rituals are not compulsory; you don’t have to do everything, but you are welcome to try them all out. Perhaps you will find a ritual or two you want to establish daily.

Should you take time off for fasting, or can you go about your everyday life as usual?
Basically, it’s no problem to fast during your working day. However, it also depends a bit on what your job is. If you have to work hard physically or with a high level of concentration, it’s better to take time off for the duration of the fast.

Otherwise, you should reduce the number of appointments and stress levels as much as possible during the fasting week. After all, you want to treat yourself to a break or two, especially when fasting.

What should you do if you can’t make it to the end of the week?
Many fasting people have this thought, especially on day two or three. The body has to make many changes, which can have side effects. It is important to weigh things up: Is it more of a head issue, or is the body going limp? You should listen to yourself honestly.

If your body says enough is enough, then you should stop. But often, it’s just the head behind it, and then it’s good if you know how to help yourself. It is very helpful to fast together with someone. This way, you can motivate and encourage each other again and again. A fasting guide can also be helpful here. There are many ways to get outside support.

How do you regain your “normal” eating habits after the fasting week?
After five fasting days, two build-up days are essential to return to “normal” eating habits slowly. With a longer fasting period, the build-up phase is also extended. The body has to get used to solid food again and adapt.

You should, therefore, be very careful on the build-up days and stick to a few important eating rules. These include, for example, drinking plenty of fluids, eating low in salt, avoiding sugar, eating naturally and simply, paying attention to body signals, eating slowly, and stopping eating when you feel full.

The diet should include plenty of fruit and vegetables and high-fiber foods. For many fasting people, fasting is also the start of a change in diet. It is, therefore, a great opportunity to establish new eating habits in everyday life.

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