Fasting is a tradition in almost all religions. For Christians, Ash Wednesday starts the 40-day Lent. The days until Easter night are considered a time of penance, reflection and conversion. During the fasting month of Ramadan, Muslims practice abstinence from sunrise to sunset, Buddhist monks and nuns fast every day from noon and controlled and reduced food intake also plays a major role in Hinduism.
As different as the times when the believers are fasting are, they all expect something similar: inner contemplation and strength. The abandonment of material needs should create a closeness to God.
One in two Germans considers it sensible to do without a certain luxury or consumer good for several weeks during Lent: A DAK survey found that most of them think they can do without beer, wine or chocolate. On the other hand, so-called online fasting, i.e. switching off your smartphone and computer in your free time, only resonates with every fifth person willing to fast.
Not all people are fasting for religious reasons. However, some people mistake therapeutic fasting for a lightning diet. To get rid of excess pounds, the time-out is less suitable for the soul, mind and body, because most of them gain weight again quickly after the fasting cure.
Fasting: The first three days are the worst
Without medical supervision, it is better not to fast for more than a week. Since the body has to adjust at the start of the fasting cure, the first three days are usually the worst. Thoughts often revolve around eating, dizziness or a headache can occur, some people feel cold or tired. However, this should happen soon. Then mostly positive feelings predominate, life slows down and becomes more intense. Many fasters feel happy and at ease, for some the days without food are even more conscious.
Solid food is prohibited in many fasting methods. 250 to 400 are often permitted calories per day, which are mainly consumed in the form of drinks, instead of the average 1500 to 3000 calories. The body should catch the difference by reducing the metabolism and tapping into its own energy reserves – i.e. fat deposits and muscle mass, Slight movement counteracts muscle loss and instead boosts fat metabolism.
At the beginning there are usually one to three relief days on which high-fiber and easily digestible foods such as fruit and rice are still allowed. In addition, the fasting with enemas and Epsom salts is accompanied by the intestine cleaned. Warm body wraps are often used to promote blood circulation and stimulate the metabolism. It is important to drink a lot during fasting – at least two to two and a half liters a day – to replace the fluid that is otherwise absorbed through food. At the end of Lent, three to four days of rest, during which the body slowly gets used to food again, are absolutely necessary. Those who reach for schnitzel with chips too quickly overwhelm their stomach and risk cramps and abdominal pain.
Contraindications: Who should fast under medical supervision
However, therapeutic fasting is not suitable for everyone: Those who take medication or are chronically ill should not eat at all or only under the supervision of a doctor. This also applies to people who are strong overweight, extreme allergies. depressions or eating disorder Suffer. pregnant woman or breastfeeding women, children, people with heart problems, people infected with HIV or people who are heavily underweight should avoid fasting altogether.
Overview of the methods of therapeutic fasting
Whether alone or in a group – fasters mostly follow a certain method. Fasting according to Buchinger, F.-X.-Mayr or Schroth cure are particularly well known. The selection is often made according to the gut feeling, although the different cures are not suitable for everyone. When which method is suitable.
1. Fasting according to Buchinger
The most well-known fasting method is probably therapeutic fasting according to Dr. Be Otto Buchinger. The former medical officer of the Imperial Navy allegedly cured himself of severe joint rheumatism by fasting. With Buchinger fasting, tea or water, in moderation also juices and vegetable broth are allowed – but no fixed food. After two days of relief with light food such as rice, fruit and vegetables, the intestine emptied using epsom salt and enemas. Exercise in the fresh air is also part of the program. If you want to try the classic Buchinger cure for three weeks, you should visit a fasting clinic. This method can also be tried out at home over shorter stages and with the help of a guide book.
Healthy people can easily fast a week after Buchinger. This method is suitable for changing the lifestyle and changing the diet over the long term. It has also been proven that inpatient fasting for four weeks relieves rheumatism pain or helps against high blood pressure. In this case, however, it is important that Buchinger fasting is accompanied medically. Even people with Type 2 diabetes benefit because your body reacts more sensitively to insulin intake.
2. Tea and water fasting
Those who approach fasting according to the principle of “completely or not at all” may consider pure water and tea fasting. However, with such a zero-calorie diet, the body has practically none vitamins. minerals and trace elements fed. For a short period of time, about a week, the body can use its reserves to compensate for this lack of food. During longer periods of fasting, muscle breakdown, circulatory problems and feelings of weakness occur. The body also needs minerals for bones and teeth, Apart from that, perseverance can be difficult even with moderate fasting methods and outright disgusting drinking a lot. A juice – for example a vegetable juice or a juice spritzer – therefore offers a welcome change in the watery monotony.
Therapeutic fasting with tea is a very strict form of fasting, the interventions in the metabolism are strong. Anyone for whom the Buchinger cure was not the right thing should therefore avoid it.
3. Schroth cure
The Schroth cure, which was developed by the carter and later naturopath Johann Schroth, is a lot more liberal than strict tea fasting: wine can even be drunk here. This method has three important components: In addition to therapeutic fasting, in which a fat-free, low-salt and low-protein diet is allowed, dry and drinking days as well as Schroth’s vapor wrap are included. In the evening, whole-body wraps should stimulate the metabolism, like sauna sessions, promote the excretion of toxins through the skin and thus “purify” the body. On the drinking and drying days, little and plenty of liquid is consumed alternately – in addition to tea, medicinal water or fruit juices, dry wines are also allowed as a drink.
The Schroth cure is expressly not suitable for dry alcoholics, pregnant and lactating women, children, adolescents, patients with eating disorder as well as people with cancer or infectious diseases. The belief that “slag” is released and disposed of in the body during fasting is simply wrong. Since the intestinal mucosa is constantly renewed, nothing is deposited there, and unusable substances are constantly excreted through the kidneys or the intestine. It is not only for this reason that the original process is scientifically controversial in Germany. According to popular opinion, the dry days and the alcohol the body more than that they use it. Many doctors therefore reject this cure, and there are no scientific studies on its effectiveness.
4. The F.-X.-Mayr cure
The Austrian doctor Franz Xaver Mayr developed a cure for intestinal rehabilitation with the three stages “protection, cleansing and training”: Fasting and diet should relieve the digestive system, lots of fluids and colon cleansing “cleanse” the body, slow eating improves eating behavior. The at least three-week course begins with pure tea and water fasting, which is preceded by an intestinal cleansing. During fasting therapy, the body should be cleaned before the healthier diet begins.
This is followed by the bread diet: A stale bread roll for breakfast, chewed 40 to 60 times, is intended to promote slow and conscious eating and that intestine relieve. A gentle diet with lots of vegetables, ripe fruit, fresh herbs, little fat and salt and rarely meat follows. Three to five liters of water, herbal tea and vegetable broth are allowed during the day. A daily abdominal massage should digestion promote.
The Mayr cure is suitable for people of all ages, even children. Also pregnant woman can fast with this method. Mentally ill people and people with acute, infectious diseases should, however, better avoid them. Since the Mayr cure is used to train conscious and slow eating, among other things, it is also suitable for permanently changing eating habits – for example, to the light diet made from ripe fruit, fresh herbs, little fat, Salt and meat. This method should be used for fasting for at least three weeks, although it is advisable to do this under expert guidance.
Practice check: How well can therapeutic fasting be integrated into everyday life?
A typical fasting day essentially consists of the question of which liquid is taken when. For example, it is a rosemary tea in the morning and water in the morning. At lunchtime, a potato broth consisting of half a small potato, half a carrot and some leek is on the program – strained through a sieve, seasoned with a little spice (without salt) and enjoyed with water.
After an afternoon stroll, a ginger tea is good for you. A grape juice spritzer made from 1/3 juice and 2/3 water is provided for the early evening. Or you pour the juice undiluted into a wine glass and slowly enjoy the luxury – sip water in between. A lemon balm or lavender tea goes well with an evening bath that is not too hot, perhaps with a pinch of honey.
The changeover takes time. Many fasters therefore complain at the beginning a headache, Nausea, poor circulation and – above all – hunger. During the first two to three days, the remaining ones are first carbohydrates in the liver reduced. Then the protein from the muscles and burned fat from the depots on the abdomen and hips. The body slowly reduces its energy consumption at the same time.
From the fourth day on, it usually becomes easier. The concentration of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol in the body decreases, the happiness hormone serotonin is increasingly available. Smells and flavors are perceived more intensely, many fasters feel light-hearted, especially awake and clear in the head. For some people, the time of retreat brings repressed sadness or insecurity. Many fasters hope that fasting will have a cleansing effect. In fact, fat deposits are broken down and poisons released there, which the body can excrete. However, fasting is not a wellness holiday, but an intervention in the metabolism with a strong impact on the body and psyche. If you want to try fasting, the best thing to do during this time is to take a vacation and leave everyday life behind.
Conclusion: What Fasting Can Do
Fasting is not a diet. However, if you want to change your diet in the long term, it is usually easier to implement the good intentions after a week of fasting. After a week of broth or light food, the food is taken more slowly and consciously, the waiver of the chocolate bar is also easier.
There is also increasing evidence that therapeutic fasting can have a positive effect on health. The first promising results can be seen, for example, in rheumatism, high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes. In addition, many people report that doing without food is simply good for them.
Last but not least, the borderline experience after a fasting cure makes you proud – and strengthens your stamina when you change your diet. If you want to try therapeutic fasting, you should start small – and do without food for a good week. It doesn’t have to be the 40 days that Jesus went to the desert to go hungry.