Fasting is certainly of great religious value but at the same time it is beneficial to our health when it is done correctly.
The religious and ethical values that fasting promotes include self-control, strength of will, resistance to temptation, abuses, evil thoughts and anger.
The periodic vegetable diet or fasting, however, without excesses is a good opportunity for detoxification of the organism from meat eating and from the excessive consumption of other forms of animal products.
The consumption of animal products contributes to heart conditions or heart attacks, brain strokes and high blood pressure. For persons with high levels of lipids in the blood fasting helps to reduce them.
At fasting, the reduction in the consumption of saturated animal fats is accompanied with increased consumption of monounsaturated vegetable fat. Olive oil is the main source of good vegetable fat. The same thing can be said about dry fruit, tachini, halvas, which are good sources of fatty substances for the organism.
Fasting is characterized by the increased intake of vegetable fibres. The increased intake of vegetable fibres is considered as one of the greatest benefits of fasting.
The insoluble vegetable fibres that come from fruits and vegetables contribute:
- To the good functioning of the digestive tract and the reduction of the danger of indigestion.
- Helping the reduction of the absorption of cholesterol by the mucous gland of the intestine. They reduce cholesterol and glucose in the blood.
- To the reduction of the incidence of colon cancers.
The reduction of the number of excessive kilos, the fight against obesity, is still one of the beneficial effects of fasting. To achieve the reduction of weight during fasting one should not over-consume pastas, rice, bread or olive oil.
Fasting increases the ingestion of phytochemical substances that are beneficial to health. Vitamins and flavonoid and carotenoid substances such as lycopene and selenium are some of the vegetable substances with antioxidant qualities that benefit various systems of our organism. They also help our cardiovascular system, they reduce the danger of cancer and they improve mental functioning.
Vegetables and dry fruits provide calcium that the organism needs and which it lacks due to fasting and the avoidance of dairy products. Women who breastfeed their children should avoid fasting for long time periods.
As regards the ingestion of iron it is well-known that iron of an animal origin is absorbed better by the digestive tract. The absorption of iron of vegetable origin is not so good but it can be much improved through vitamin C that is contained in many fruits and vegetables.
The problem of the absorption of iron is one of the reasons for which women that are pregnant or who breastfeed their children should not fast for long time periods. The same applies to young people and people with iron deficiency.
Sea-foods that are allowed during fasting are of high nutritional value. They contain omega-3 fatty acids that help the immune system. They also help the nervous system as well as mental acuity. The absence from the diet of substances from the omega-3 fatty acids family such as DHA and EPA has been linked with an increased danger of depression and nervous dysfunctions.
Legumes in combination with seafood offer proteins that replace those that the organism doesn’t receive due to abstinence from foods of an animal origin. Also, this combination offers vitamin B12, iron and folic acid that may be reduced in the organism because of the abstinence from meat.
It should be emphasized that in every case persons with health problems should consult their doctor before starting a fast.