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Five fasting mistakes made by Indians while observing traditional rituals

When it comes to fasting, India has the longest running history of following religious rituals like navaratri or ekadashi. However of late there has been some modifications in the fasting techniques which are doing more harm than good.

Mistake No 5 – I get headaches if I fast

Headache is by far the most common problem faced while fasting. The reason for this problem is because you are addicted to food and eating too frequently. Brain is the most energy hungry organ of the body. Changes in blood sugar will come out in the way of a headache. Carbohydrates and sugars spike blood sugar levels. Reduction in consumption of sugars and carbs will help with this problem.

Mistake No 4 – Fasting gives me acidity problems

Once food enters the stomach, the digestive acids are released and the top and bottom opening of stomach is closed for food digestion.

If there is no food in the stomach and if digestive juices are still getting released means there is a problem with the signalling system in your body. Also the upper opening of the stomach has to remain closed so that digestive acid remains inside and does not climb up the food pipe. Else the digestive acids start climbing up the food pipe and create quite a discomfort.

To overcome this problem, you can sip water to get relief. If it does not stop, you have no other option but to break your fast. Next time try again till you are able to complete the fast.

Mistake No 3 – If I don’t eat, how will I get energy to do my daily activities

Fasting is the science of ancient human beings. It has been created and improved upon hundreds of years ago. Our body has sufficient stores of energy reserves in the liver and also as body fat. The aim of fasting is that the body should run on fat reserves and not from blood sugar which we get from food. Fasting aims to clear the body of excessive fat and also to clean up junk inside our cells. All this fat burning and junk cleaning will give you sufficient energy reserves for more than two days.

There are a lot of people out there who do stringent fasting. Many of them go about their daily routine on an empty stomach. Of course any work which requires intense physical stress might have difficulty fasting, but those are rare exceptions. Many staunch believers do ekadashi fasting for 36 hours with some doing a waterless or nirjala fast. So if there is any doubt in mind as to what happens, you can try out the fast beginning with smaller duration first.

Mistake No 2 – I am fasting with permitted food like peanuts and sabudana

We have come to a time where we need no excuse to eat. Food is available in plentiful and everywhere. People commonly propagate the idea that if you do not eat, you will get weak. We have become so habitual of eating frequently that we now strongly believe that we have to eat during fasting too. Which is why we have curated fasting safe food list and end up eating more while on a fast.

Fruits, juices, seeds, nuts, dry fruits, peanuts, coconut water, milk, milk products, khidchi and the entire range of sabudana varieties.

Whatever intended health benefits you are aiming for will get negated by eating during a fast.

Mistake No 1 – Why should I fast for spiritual reasons? I shall meet be one with the creator on a full stomach

Every major religion around the world practises fasting in some form or the other. Socrates was asked why he fasted and he used to say to get a better mental clarity. After attaining enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, Lord Buddha was believed to have meditated for 49 days. During the seventh week of fasting, two merchants came to meet him and offered him rice cakes and honey to break his fast. He however explained the wonders that he has seen and those merchants became his first followers. Is there a connection between fasting and meditation? Why did yogis and sadhus go to the Himalayas for meditation?

Fasting for prolonged period, that is beyond 24 hours releases growth hormone and BDNF molecule which activates the neurons and repairs connections in the nervous system. That is where the clarity in thinking comes from.

At 22nd hour of fasting autophagy kicks in. Body cells activate the recycling plant within the cell called Lysosome. This dead or junk protein within the cell is used for energy by the cells to survive. On the face of it this seems a bad thing for the body. But once you break fast, the bone marrow starts creating stem cells and the first priority goes to the cells who have undergone recycling.

Conclusion

Fasting has some really serious health benefits which cannot be ignored. Though enough research is not present on the benefits of fasting, it has been followed for a long time. Do consult a doctor and carry out a detailed study before attempting a fast. If you face problems in beginning, just ease yourself into it and try to give time to the body to adjust. Do not rush into things.

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