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Health and Diet

Fasting


"Before a fast is undertaken, consideration must be given to the individual constitution."

In the West, people sometimes observe fast for ten, fifteen, twenty or more days without considering their constitutions. This lack of understanding of constitutional requirements may have detrimental effects.

A person of vata constitution should not observe a fast for more than 3 days. Not eating increases lightness in the body and vata (bodily air) is also light. So, the vata element becomes impaired if a fast is continued too long and this impaired element will create fear, anxiety, nervousness, and weakness.

The same restriction on length of fasting holds for pitta individuals. A fast of more than four days will aggravate pitta, increasing the fire element in the body. This increased pitta will cause psycho/physical reactions of anger, hate, and dizziness.

Kapha people may observe prolonged fasts. They will feel a pleasant sensation of increased lightness, greater awareness and an opening of consciousness. Clarity and understanding will improve.

If a juice fast is undertaken, it is important to remember the following suggestions:

 

Constitution

Recommended Juice

Vata Grape juice.
Pitta Pomegranate.
Kapha Apple.

 

Each day of the fast, drink about 3.5 pints / 2 litres of juice diluted with water.

The digestive system is resting during a fast. It is important not to place strain on the agni, the digestive fire, during this time. During fasting, the digestive fire becomes enkindled and, since there is no food to digest, agni slowly burns away the long-existing toxins in the intestines.

Ayurveda teaches that during a fast certain herbs such as ginger, black pepper, cayanne pepper and curry, which have medicinal value because of their hot, spicy attributes, may be used to help neutralize toxins in the system. If these herbs are taken in the form of tea, they will help enkindle agni which will burn away toxins.

When one is observing a fast, physical strength and stamina should be watched. If it becomes noticeably less, the fast should be discontinued.

Fasting is recommended when there is fever, cold, constipation or arthritic pain. If there are toxins, or if ama (undigested and unabsorbed food, accumulated in the large intestines. If left to accumulate, ama releases harmful toxins into the body) exists in the large intestines, fasting is indicated.

For the normal, healthy individual, a warm water fast (2-3 pints /1.5 litres) is advisable at least one day a week. This practice allows the digestive system to rest.

 


Breaking The Fast.

It is strongly suggested that one returns to normal eating pattern after following an amended diet for as many days as one fasts.

For example, after two days of fasting eat only fruit, such as pears, grapes, apples and oranges, and maybe yoghurt, on the third day. On the fourth day eat fresh salads, fruit, yoghurt, and in the evening a little steamed vegetables. On the fifth day, return to your usual diet.

 


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