Why Do People Follow This Diet?
Proponents claim that environmental toxins build up in our bodies over time and need to be removed periodically through fasting to maintain optimum health. Cleansing fasts are an important part of a detoxification program and may be part of a weight-loss program.
Many religions advocate fasting in various ways. Some require believers to fast altogether during certain times of year; others restrict certain food groups at specific times as in modified fasts.
What Do the Advocates Say?
Advocates believe that fasting periodically gives the body a break from digestion and allows it to eliminate the toxins that cause disease, while promoting healing and reversing the aging process. Studies indicate that fasting helps health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headache, and skin diseases. Acute illnesses such as colds and flu, colon disorders, allergies, obesity, and respiratory diseases may also respond to fasting. Proponents claim a one-day fast creates a clearer mental state and increased energy. They believe a three-day fast rids the body of toxins and purifies the blood, and that a long-term fast promotes healing, alleviates food allergies, sheds pounds, and rebuilds the immune system.
What Do the Critics Say?
Critics believe that fasting depletes the body of important nutrients, essential minerals and energy, may be unsafe, and is an ineffective weight loss aid. The few pounds that are lost in the beginning of a fast are from water, and this weight will return as soon as the fast is over. Few scientific studies have been done to back up health claims and demonstrate that fasting works by releasing toxins stored in fat.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.