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What is therapeutic fasting at home and how is it done?

Fasting as a form of therapy

One of the reasons why Elsa Pataky has been so criticized when saying publicly that she practices intermittent fasting is because this has been interpreted as an incitement to carry out risky behaviors about eating.

Above all, in the most vulnerable populations, such as adolescents. They have a higher risk of suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

However, the practice of fasting, in essence, would have nothing to do with losing weight. If someone is doing it for that purpose, without a doubt, they are incurring a totally inadvisable pattern.

What is important to discuss is whether it is really true that fasting can be therapeutic in the treatment and/or prevention of some diseases.

Therapeutic fasting at home

Therapeutic fasting at home is a health guideline, recommended by a health professional, we can carry it out autonomously as part of our diet.

The point of fasting is to do a kind of cleansing. There is no single format of therapeutic fasting, some consist of spending a couple of days with hardly any calories (about 300 kcal maximum a day) and cutting out solid foods, and others, spending a part of the day without ingesting anything at all.

When we do not eat, our body is forced to use the available reserves that it has in its particular store, lipids. The theory says that, if we carry out this practice for a long enough time, our body will learn to self-supply and regulate itself.

The question is what, if we force our body to use its reserves, we will be forcing it to release what is not good for health to conserve (toxic), and that later we can substitute more healthily.

That is, if the premise that fasting is positive for health is fulfilled, we should do it every X time. However, it would not make much sense to establish fasting as a habit, it would be like sweeping a house without dust.

Detox juices and shakes are also based on this purifying effect, which they usually try to sell us at all hours. The same thing happens with the famous detox diets.

And guess who is the only true protagonist of the authentic purifying detox. Surely you know it, its name is H2O.

Does therapeutic fasting work?

Well here comes the big problem, the controversy of results and conclusions on the subject. It depends on which source you consult, they will tell you one thing or another.

I am not an expert on the subject, so I have done a bibliographic scan, and what I have found is a clear lack of consensus. There are thousands of platforms supporting it, however, I am concerned that the same ones that promote it are also the ones who offer it.

I will try to simplify in specific points, the conclusions that I have been able to draw from everything I have read:

  • Fasting is not dangerous for health as long as we are not in situations of deficiency or malnutrition.
  • It can be a valid option in those cases of severe obesity, and even a way to reinstate new eating habits and routines.
  • Its positive effects do not seem to have so much to do with detoxification, as with the regulation of metabolism.
  • We are used to spending the day eating (the famous snack) so that we have our crazy body. Establishing eating routines helps stabilize the circadian rhythm.
  • Therapeutic fasting can be an effective treatment in the intervention of some specific diseases, for example in the case of the However, studies are needed that show more vehemence on this issue.
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Shawna Anderson

Bsc in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the Complutense University of Madrid. I love writing about nutrition and health and related topics. I have written for some famous newspapers and magazines for the last 6 years.

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