While most health, wellness, and diet enthusiasts push water and juice fasting to cleanse, heal and lose bodyweight, dry fasting has also taken its place in the new health rage. It may sound like some new trend that just picked up, but dry fasting has been used way back in ancient times for spiritual/religious purposes. It has been known to fight premature aging and fight off diseases. Although the premise of dry fasting also takes from animal behavior when they are sick, and sure enough lends real sense to the principle.
By nature, human beings and animals lose their appetite for food and water when they fall ill. Animals by instinct, actually practice dry fasting when they feel sick or get injured. Notice your pet dog that crawls under a tight space or hides away in a far corner when it has an upset stomach or is in pain from an injury? Most often, your pet dog will refuse any food or water for several days until they feel much better. This applies the same to human beings. Back in the day, spiritual leaders would fast for 40 days until they feel worthy to ask for grace and blessings. Fasting has always been attributed to powerful healing both physically, mentally, and spiritually.
What is Dry Fasting?
Dry fasting is depriving your body of any food or liquid for a certain period of time. Religion has used fasting for many years. Christians go on a dry fast on certain days in the calendar while Muslims practice Ramadan with a dry intermittent fasting of 12- 20 hours for a month. Post-surgery, patients are also put on a dry fast to ease the st
Dry fasting is considered to be more of a healing technique than it is a diet or a weight loss program. There are two ways to do dry fasting :
- The hard fast. Hard fasting restricts both food and water. Many believers of this method advise doing a hard fast in a clean, green space surrounded by mountains, fresh air, and running bodies of water. It is in the principle that the pores on the skin absorb whatever is in the environment. A clean environment provides clean moisture in the air which the skin absorbs as the natural way of taking water for nourishment.
- A soft fast. In contrast, this allows the consumption of water. Water makes it easier to go through a fast and remain in that state for a much longer period. However, it lessens the healing benefits of the fast as compared to doing a hard fast. Then again, no matter what you’ve read about dry fasting, it is not recommended to go without water for more than 48 hours.
How to do a Dry Fast
Dry fasting is not for everyone. It is best to check with your doctor if your health is capable of adapting to a state of fast as this could lead to serious health issues later on. You may not be suitable for dry fasting if :
- You’ve never done any form of fasting before.
- You suffer from migraines or chronic headaches
- You are diabetic
- You are on medications that should not be taken on an empty stomach
- You have blood pressure problems
There are 2 stages to dry fasting with which your body will adapt during the process :
- Glycogen Stage: This will depend on how much activity you have in a day. Going on a 12 – 24 hour fasting brings your blood glucose levels down by 20 percent. As soon as the body tanks out of glucose while you’re on a dry fast, it will revert to stored glucose in the body, called glycogen, and use it as a source of energy. The liver is where glycogen is stored.
- Ketosis Stage: If the level of glycogen is not enough to supply energy, the body enters the metabolic state of ketosis. This is when excess adipose tissue, fatty acids, and fatty triglycerides are oxidized by the liver for energy. But since our brain cannot process fatty acids to be used for fuel, it converts them into ketones which can then be the new source of energy for the body.
Keto diet followers are in this metabolic state wherein their bodies use fat for fuel instead of glucose they get from eating carbohydrates and sugar. Those who practice a ketogenic diet will have an easier time doing a dry fast and curb hunger and thirst.
Here’s how to do it the right way :
- Begin by getting your body fat adapted. It is best to prepare the body before going into a full-on fasting mode. Allow yourself a couple of weeks on a ketogenic diet to get your body fat adapted so you don’t suffer too much discomfort from the lack of food and water.
- Take it slow. Do not go cold turkey on your calorie intake. Condition your body by eating fewer calories each day for a week going down to about 500 calories a day. Load up on healthy fats and cut down on caffeine.
- Go on a liquid fast first. Get your feet wet with fasting by restricting yourself to full water- only or green juice fast along with a 16: 8 intermittent fasting. Eliminate caffeine. This will give you an idea of how your body can tolerate a state of fast.
- The 16-hour practice fast. If you’ve gone this far down the road then you can start with a 16 hour dry fast. Do not consume food or water. You may only rehydrate with water during the 8-hour window
- Pin down your fasting duration. Going on a 16:8 dry fast is basically safe to do for a week or two. This will all depend on how well you feel after the fast. Should you want to dry fasting a regular part of your wellness regime, you may do this one day a week or for a full week in a month. The most ideal of which would be a full week every two months.
The Benefits of Dry Fasting
Improved Cognitive Function
Going on an intermittent dry fast enhances the protection of brain neurons against degenerative diseases and dysfunction. It also increases the creation of new neurons and kills off harmful cells in the brain.
When dry fasting, all inflammatory markers are reduced as levels of leukocytes also known as immune cells are decreased. Leukocytes are inflammatory molecules that bring about inflammatory diseases that affect different organs of the body.
Lipid Control and Improved Heart health
Dry fasting has proven to reduce levels of harmful triglycerides and bad cholesterol. When your body enters a state of ketosis, bad fats get burned off and results in controlled levels of cholesterol.
Blood Sugar Control
Dry fasting eventually leads to blood sugar control with a 50 percent reduction in glucose and insulin levels.
Reduced Risk of Diabetes
Studies show that a 15 – 21 hour intermittent dry fast shows significantly decreased levels of hemoglobin HBA1C which is a marker for blood sugar.
Regulated Blood Pressure
Research studies have found a lowered systolic blood pressure in individuals who have done a dry fast and even lower in people who paired it with a keto diet.
As your body is in a dry fast state it secrets a hormone called Parathyroid ( PTH ) which helps in bone formation, bone reabsorption, and increases levels of calcium in your blood.
Most of the weight you lose will be from loss of water and due to restricted calorie consumption. Weight loss may be short-lived and you can gain weight soon after you get back to normal eating after your dry fast period. However, if your goal is also to lose weight, you have to conscientiously make better choices with food and keep a moderate level of physical activity daily…