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Fasting for health and happiness

By: DR. THOMAS KAISER

[email protected]

Dr Thomas Kaiser is the Medical Director of the Vale do Lobo Medical Centre and is a specialist in good traditional General Practice for the whole family, state of the art aesthetic and cosmetic medicine.

DEAR READER,

In most cultures the concept of a fasting period is well known.

Different religions use fasting during certain periods as a process of concentration, refreshment and cleansing.

In modern times, fasting is mostly used as a necessary evil to get rid of superfluous weight.

Here are a few tips on how you can get the most out of a fasting period.

Before you start

Make sure that fasting is not detrimental to your health. This is particularly important for people with anaemia, diabetes, heart and lung problems. Check with your doctor what kind of fasting you should do (and if you can do it).

Establish exactly what you expect from your efforts. If you want to lose weight, you may want to use a different approach than if you are aiming for detoxification, moderation or rejuvenation.

Dos and don’ts

In most cases, it is unnecessary to eat nothing, especially if you are fasting for weight loss, as it is advisable that you prevent muscle loss during the process. This aim is best achieved with protein supplementation in the form of shakes and powders or lean meat and fish.

The metabolism goes into emergency mode when you fast and after 24 hours your body starts to use stored energy in the form of fat (the desired effect) and protein. The protein comes from your muscles. If you lose muscle, you lose your own fat-burning ‘factories’ and risk your progress on the weight loss front.

Make sure you drink plenty of herbal teas and water. The breakdown products can be better discharged by your kidneys and it also helps hunger.

Take a multi-vitamin and mineral tablet during prolonged periods of fasting.

Half way protocols

A very good moderate fasting regime is ‘dinner cancelling’. Allow yourself a light breakfast and lunch followed by a protein shake at 5pm. No more food is consumed afterwards. Instead, go for long walks, meditate and enjoy tea while reading beautiful poetry!

Mental fasting exercises

I would encourage you to experiment with two different forms of fasting.

Abstain completely from complaining, moaning, cynical comments, negative thoughts and ideas. Avoid, if at all possible, the word ‘no’ and enjoy and praise everything vaguely positive and good. Stay away from criticism and try to find something positive in the sub-optimal or negative. Don’t gossip.

Another very beneficial form of fasting lies in the ‘non-digestion’ of ‘news’. Newspapers, television and the internet are full of bad news and negativity; therefore it is natural that we feel unhappy and cynical after the consumption of news. Knowing about bad news in the world is only useful if you are keen and prepared to change something in relation to it. Otherwise it makes no difference to learn about suicide bombers in Bagdad every day.

These mental fasting exercises are very good for your health and wellbeing. You don’t have to believe me. Just try it out.

Exercise during fasting

It is beneficial to exercise during fasting periods. However, you should only do it in moderation to not overstress your body. A good form of exercise is a brisk walk.

Begin the day with stretching exercises at sunrise and do sit-ups and press-ups at sunset.

A guaranteed fountain of happiness

Here is one walk which will definitely make you happy due to its beauty and atmosphere:

Between Olhão and Tavira, take the turning to ‘Arroteia’ on the EN125. You need to consult the tide calendar before you go because the walk can only be done during low tide. You can walk from Arroteia through marsh land to the beach through stunningly beautiful scenery and then on to the ‘Barril’ beach in Pedras del Rei, where the old steam train will bring you to a taxi stand from where you can return to your car. The most picturesque beach walk I know!

Best of luck with your individual fasting and a very happy spring time.

Dr Thomas Kaiser

For more information, please call Dr Kaiser on 289 398 009.