Fasting can accrue health benefits when done right

10:50 am Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India

HCFI wishes all readers a happy Chaitra Navratri; everyone should follow some fasting tips

New Delhi, 19th March 2018: Studies indicate that intermittent fasting can help in improving a person’s blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and insulin sensitivity. It has also been found that longer periods of fasting (2 to 4 days) aids in rebooting the immune system, clearing out old immune cells, and regenerating new ones.

Chaitra or Basant Navratri is observed at the start of the summer for preparing the body to tolerate summer. Fasting in an integral aspect of this festival in India, making Navratri a process of detoxifying the body, mind, and soul. Some fast for religious reasons, and others do it to cut back on unwanted calories and lose weight.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “Fast does not mean ‘not eating’ but rather controlling desires and simultaneously cultivating positive mental attitudes. Desires can be of many types: eating tasty food, smelling good, listening to a particular music, watching beautiful things, etc. Similarly, fasting can also be of different types: food fast (food items), eye fast (watching things Rajsik in nature), ear fast (avoiding listening to stimulating music), action fast (not indulging in various activities), and speech fast (not speaking evil). Body detoxification involves special Navratri diet principles of eating less, once a day with no cereals. Rajgira flour used during this season is a good source of vitamins A, B6, K, and C, as also folate, riboflavin, calcium, potassium, iron (60% of RDA), copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. Cooked amaranth is also 90% digestible.”

Chaitra Navratri culminates in Ram Navami, the birth of Lord Rama. Hence, the birth of consciousness is equivalent to being in touch with his birth. This festival should, therefore, be celebrated as a disciplined way of acquiring internal happiness and not as a forced means of fasting.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “India has become a hub of diabetes, heart diseases, and insulin resistance, all of which are linked with not observing fasts or eating high carb diet every day. Refined carbohydrates are the culprit. The significance of a ‘medical vrata’ needs to be underlined. The simpler version of ‘vrata’ can be: not eating carbohydrates at all once in a week and replacing them with fruits and vegetables.”

HCFI tips for fasting.

  • Plan your diet especially if you have medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Do not skip your medication schedule. Keep a healthy snack handy for those cravings.
  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking water, coconut water, green tea, buttermilk, and lime juice. Avoid aerated drinks.
  • Avoid gorging on salty ‘vrat snacks’. Eat something that is boiled or roasted instead.
  • Use rock salt in your food instead of usual salt as it helps in better mineral absorption. It is also beneficial for those who have high or low blood pressure.
  • Eat lighter meals as these can aid digestion.
  • For dessert, you can try eating dates or fruit yogurt. Also, add honey instead of sugar.
  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

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