A lot of spiritually inclined people are currently engaging a fast despite the religion , a lot of people believe it sharpens their spirit and that they need such a sharpened spirit to forge into the year.
Starting that exercise has helped some reach their target for the year spiritually as many take it to be a good thing to have done a long fast, only a lot of people do it the wrong way.
I wasn't sure where to post this episode of medhive, seeing it qualifies for a good science related post as well as a spiritually inclined topic, many would benefit anyways, so for the more scientific direction I ll be taking, it will fit well in the @stem community.
Here in Nigeria, I could say that every Church must have heralded a fast for its congregation to engage in , seeking the face of God over matters and also for fellowshipping.
But just recently I had a patient come into my consultation room with complaints of increased heart rates, her android device had detected her pulse really high and she wasn't calm until she needed to see a Dr about it.
At first I had to rule out any cardiac compromise, she was not hypertensive, neither did she have any thyroid or adrenal challenges, neither was she on any drugs at that moment that could make her pulse high, it had been high for the past 12 hours. The problem here was quite unsuspecting.
Who would have known she was fasting, and had not eaten for almost 7 days. Thats not a side of history your mind will go to at such times. What gave it out was when I asked if she had been eating well or excessively ruling out polyphagia (excessive eating) often seen in people with increased thyroid hormones and could also have raised pulse (Tacchycardia). It turned out she was only having just water all those days, 7 days.
I smiled and realised this was just a case of hypoglycemia (low sugar in the blood), due to her not eating anything for a very long time.
Hypoglycemia is a state of low suger/glucose in the blood sufficient enough for the brain and other vital organs to function normally. At that point, the heart is oblige to supply more blood to these areas and so adrenaline (a hormone) is released to make it happen. The patient feels some symptoms I ve loved to describe as SHANTING right form medical school, which was a mnemonic for sweating, headaches, anxiety, nausea/irritable and tachycardia (increased heart beat)
Is Fasting beneficial to your health?
I am sure this has been an age long question, no doubt it helps us spiritually but really, we are physical humans and would need to know just how or if this act of fasting has any benefit at all to our body.
Many people have suggested fasting to be a good weight loss plan, well I ll say it is like a short cut to loosing the weight.
Note that when we fast, we deprive our body of not only the mouthful feeling of food, but the nutrient, vitamins and minerals that the body needs for its daily running, including fluids. Hence the body turns to reserves, yes the body is also s reservoir of these nutrients, where it stores energy sources, mineral resources :), and protein and water. These stores are used up during the period of this fast and as it progresses, well, weight will be lost, but other deficits will also show, so while we get a target of weight loss, it also comes with other deficiencies, which may be detrimental in medically unstable persons. The funny thing here is that if you resume your regular eating habit, be sure to find your lost weight at the door again, moving back in. :)
There have been speculations of intermittent fasting being the key to this, and this has also been proven to work in some places, how ever, what is more important are the lifestyle changes and diet modifications.
Speaking on Detox, I m sure quite a few propel fasting as a good detox regimen, well, how it goes is this.. the liver , a healthy one tho, is a good detoxifier and it removes harmful products of metabolism (by product from food and drugs) and sets them for excretion, the kidney also does so and removes them as urine. All fasting really aids is the mobilization of stored fat in reserve during ketosis and these frees up any toxicity in there for removal.
But the most common reason I know people to fast is to pray and kill the flesh. So I decide to write about this too.
When Jesus fasted, as we read in scriptures, he was led of the spirit into the wilderness, (a secluded area, with less activity, and less distraction) and there he fasted. I have read of Moses, and Elijah also embarking on long fasts. Here in Nigeria we know many men of God who would go to the mountains to fast long days as well. They often go in groups as well, so when one is weak, another strengthens them and encourages them.
It is important to say that if you ll be going dry or wet for such a long time that you abstain from much activities, that way, your body will conserve energy and you can finish your task. But people engaging in long fasts and still going to their daily jobs and doing house chores as well, with no company, some people do not join there spouses. That way, I think we would get it wrong.
Fasting when it comes to spiritual matters is not only from food, some people have bigger distractions than food that will still hinder them despite their not eating. They are starving. The essence of fasting is for sobriety, reverence and worship.
On a final note, their are a set of people who shouldn't be advised to fast from the medical stand point.
Patients with Peptic Ulcer disease, I often get such complaints from patients who haven't eaten in a while, they develop dyspepsia, or even abdominal pain because of acid secretion, this is usually made worse by the smell or thought of food, another reason why they should have isolated :).
Does fasting cause Ulcer? There is really no research proving this, but we know that it worsens peptic ulcer. This may be a topic for another day.
Other set of people who shouldn't be allowed to fast are pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, people with chronic diseases involving the liver, kidney, bones and heart, Cancer patients, patients on daily drugs requiring food. Some people who are probably heavy physical or mental lifters may not want to fast as this would reduce their productivity. Also, people with diagnosed eating disorders like bulemia (excessive eating), anorexia nervosa (aversion for food), if these people are allowed to fast, it may worsen their balance.
Diabetic patients are also not advised to fast.
Here is a special piece I ve been working on for a while to post before the month runs out and I am glad to have finished, oh I hope I did, but if you have any questions or further discussions, please feel free to share, infact, I could say you re obliged to engage in the comment section. I ll be there to learn more as well.
This is Med-Hive, A series of medical case stories and short explanations on the case, symptoms and slight clinical insight. This does not aim at giving any medical advice as your doctor would do that after proper review involving history taking, physical examination and necessary investigations. However, a healthy society can only thrive with healthy information's like this. I will also love to entertain your questions in the comment section. Thanks for Reading
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