Fasting is the voluntary abstinence from eating for an extended period of time. It is a controversial procedure. Many people believe that fasting is an easy way to give the digestive system a rest to allow the body to rid itself of toxins and wastes. It is also thought to stimulate the metabolism and promote healing by strengthening the immune system. Under no conditions should pregnant or breast-feeding women, or anyone who is diabetic or has kidney or liver problems, has an eating disorder, asthma, or tuberculosis, fast. Fasting's history goes back to Biblical times, whereit was a way to purify the body and the mind. It can be found in cultures asdiverse as the ancient Greeks and the Native Americans, and was often used as part of a rite or religious exercise. In modern times, many people fast forhealth, rather than spiritual, reasons. Those who advocate fasting argue that it is a way to get rid of natural waste and environmental chemicals that build up in our bodies. The other major justification for fasting is that it stimulates the metabolism and the immune system, promoting healing and renewal.Both arguments for fasting are based on the belief that by stopping the digestive tract from having to work continuously, a major obstacle to the body'snatural healing powers is removed. This is based on the idea that it takes alot of energy to break down and convert food, energy which can be better spent healing ourselves. Proponents of fasting argue that it provides better overall health and improves vitality. The possible loss of unwanted body fat is abonus.

There are many types and degrees of fasting. The most popular is the juice fast in which only fresh fruit and vegetable juice is consumed. Some also drinkvegetable broth and herbal teas. Since all of these liquids are high in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and natural sugars, some consider this to be a restricted diet instead of a real fast. Others say that a true fast consists of consuming only distilled water. A fast can last for 24 hours or for as longas one month. Anything more than a couple of days should be considered a prolonged fast, and be supervised by a physician.

Fasting is controversial. Medical school trained physicians argue that science has yet to prove that fasting actually eliminates toxins from the body, andthat, since the body undergoes a series of changes during a fast, it shouldnever be done without prior medical consultation. They also argue that in addition to the minor side effects, like fatigue and dizziness, even modified fasting on juices can sometimes cause the formation of kidney stones or gallstones. Proponents say that fasting can provide a sense of control of one's life. Self-prescribed fasting of any kind can be dangerous to varying degrees. Some people become light-headed, dizzy, and develop headaches. Extended fastingcan even lead to sodium and potassium depletion, and a fatal alteration of electrolyte balance.

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