People fast for a multitude of reasons. Two of the most popular reasons why people fast is to lose weight or to detoxify the body, and one of the ways that a person can do fasting is by doing a water fast.
What Is Water Fasting?
When you do water fasting, this means that you only take in water for 24 to 72 hours. You do not ingest food nor drink anything other than water for those three days. The intention is for the body to go into an induced autophagy, a physiological process in the body whereby cells in the body that are damaged are destroyed and replaced with new ones. Autophagy is heightened when there is cellular stress and this can be achieved when you go into fasting. In essence, autophagy allows the body to reprogram and renew itself through the generation of new cells that are healthier and better functioning.
Fasting is best done under the supervision of a medical professional as there are instances where fasting is not allowed. Pregnant and nursing women, people who are suffering from chronic kidney disease, and those with a history of eating disorder are not recommended to undergo water fasting as it is an incredibly limiting form of fasting. Fasting may cause nausea and lightheadedness which is why the 24 to 72 hour rule is basically the rule of thumb. Those who would like to go for much longer than that would have to consult with a doctor first. There are retreat centers that offer a program for water fasting where you are within reach of doctors and that offers activities that help support a person who is undergoing fasting.
Consulting with your health care provider is important before doing water fasting
It is important to note that you should not over exert yourself while you are on water fasting because of the side effects that comes with it. Because bouts of lightheadedness and dizzy spells occur while on the fast, especially during the first time that you undergo water fasting, it is generally recommended to avoid the use of heavy machinery and to avoid driving.
Benefits of Water Fasting
People fast for a number of reasons. Some fast for religious or spiritual reasons, while there are those who fast in order to reap the potential health benefits of fasting. Water fasting, compared to other fasting methods where calories and food intake are restricted to a minimum, is a zero-calorie and highly restrictive fast because you are only allowed to drink water from the beginning of your fast up until the last day. It requires mental determination and a firm resolve as to why you would want to do a water fasting because it can be daunting. That said, water fasting does offer health benefits that make it appealing to the health and wellness community.
Fasting helps remove and replace dysfunctional cells in the body
Doing a water fast can slow down the aging process because the body is able to revitalize itself
Cellular Regeneration- one of the benefits of going into water fasting is cellular regeneration. Autophagy is the body’s natural process for the removal of unnecessary and dysfunctional cells. When you do water fasting, your body is forced to go into an induced autophagic state where the body is made to determine which cells are still functioning well and protect them from the decrease in caloric intake, and which ones it can dispose of. The body then creates new and healthier cells to replace the ones that have been damaged or are no longer functioning well. When the body removes these damaged cells and are able to replace them with new ones, it also means that it is able to heal the body more efficiently and more effectively.
Slows Down Aging- free radicals from a surplus of oxygen in our bodies can cause cellular oxidation which can lead to premature aging. When you go into water fasting, the cells that have been damaged by these oxidizing free radicals are removed from the body. It helps to have new and young cells to keep us feeling and looking young as well. While it may seem as a case for vanity, having these new cells running our body is more important than just aesthetics. These new cells are able to combat diseases and infections more effectively, and they are able to better communicate with each other to provide the body with the things it needs in order to functioning optimally.
Weight Loss- just like when you follow theketogenic diet, doing a water fasting also forces the body into a state of ketosis. It is during ketosis that our body makes use of the reserve fat that we have stored in our body and use these instead as a source of energy. While dieting may bring your body into ketosis, water fasting brings you to this state faster and therefore, allows your body to burn these stored fat sooner as well. Ketosis is also a much slower process of drawing energy from the stored fat we have in our body which is why it is also important to be mindful of your activities when doing water fasting because the drastic restriction of calorie intake can easily make you feel lightheaded.
Fasting can help you lose weight through the process of ketosis
Increased insulin sensitivity helps reduce the risks for diabetes
Greater Insulin Sensitivity- insulin is a hormone created by our pancreas that helps in regulating our body’s blood sugar level. It is said that going into fasting allows the body to be more adept at feeling for glucose level spikes and are able to send these hormones to control any increase in the blood sugar more effectively. The heightened sensitivity of insulin in our bodies can help counter and reduce the risk for diabetes to develop later on.
Dangers of Water Fasting
Because of the highly restrictive nature of water fasting, it does have some side effects that you have to know about before deciding to do it. Doing a water fast is best done with the recommendation and supervision of a medical professional in order for the side effects to be addressed and managed as soon as possible.
Dehydration- as ironic as it may sound, it is possible to get dehydrated when you go into water fasting because a percentage of the water we take into our bodies actually come from the food that we eat. When you go into water fasting, it is already a given that you won’t be eating any food. It is incredibly important to increase your water intake when doing water fasting to avoid dehydration because dehydration can also increase the chances for you to feel lightheaded and dizzy while fasting.
Dehydration is one of the dangers of water fasting because some of the water we take in actually comes from the food we eat
Losing muscle weight is the last thing you would want when working to lose those extra pounds.
Fasting can cause heart burns and stomach ulcers
Unintended (Muscle) Weight Loss- when you lose weight, the desired effect should be for you to lose fat weight. Fat in the body, while it can provide as a backup source for energy, is unnecessary and unhealthy when there’s a large accumulation of it. However, going into water fasting can cause the body to lose muscle weight. Muscles are important in keeping your metabolism going even during moments of rest, and it also helps in cushioning your body from impact. It is also what helps you in your day to day activities. Because of the removal of calories in your diet on the days of your fast, your body may lose not just fat but muscle weight as well.
Heartburn and Stomach Ulcers- because the stomach has no food to digest, the acid in your stomach can cause you to have a significant increase in instances of heartburn and stomach ulcers. While this can be mitigated somewhat by the water you take in during the fast, it is still a reason for concern especially for those who have experienced this in the past.
Are You Interested In Water Fasting?
If you’re interested to do a water fasting, it is best to consult with a doctor in order for you to be properly guided when doing your fast. This is also to prevent any unwanted side effects from happening and to manage health conditions that may arise from doing the fast.
Another thing that you need to do is to fix your schedule so that you won’t need to do strenuous activities while doing the fast. This is to avoid accidents that may be a result of the lightheadedness and dizzy spells that you may experience during the fast. It is also recommended that you drink good quality water such as distilled water while on the fast to avoid bouts of diarrhea that may occur from drinking contaminated water. You do not want to lose more water or nutrients from your body while on the fast as this may cause more severe health conditions to arise. After your designated time frame for fasting, break your fast slowly by drinking healthyfruit juices, by enjoyingbone broths, and then slowly incorporating solid food into your diet again.
Dirnking fresh fruit juices upon breaking your fast can help your body become reacquainted with taking in more calories
If you’re set on your goal and truly determined to do the fast, do so with caution and with the proper mindset and intention. Fasting is a fantastic way of detoxifying the body and knowing how to do the water fasting properly will surely deliver the results that you desire.