Two years ago, the news spread in the media that the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to two doctors who proved that it is possible to reduce the risk of cancer by 90% through fasting, and more specifically, fasting according to the Ekadashi method. The idea is simple: every 11 lunar days (about once a month) you need to completely give up food and water.
The news turned out to be a fake: the laureate was falsely credited with the words about the healing power of this type of fasting, but the myth took root in the public consciousness so much that conscientious specialists and experts did not succeed in pushing it out to the end. What really lies behind the Ekadashi medical fasting - we figured out together with the family doctor, psychotherapist, full member of the American Association of Psychiatrists AP Mintimer Missarov.
Self-abuse or health improvement?
So, why did this fake hit the public so easily? The fact is that Yoshinori Osumi, a scientist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2016, is researching the phenomenon of autophagy. Autophagy (from the Greek autos - "self", phagos - "eating") - a process in which cells destroy themselves, getting rid of some of their structural parts. Autophagy also occurs when the body is normal, but sometimes this process can signal the development of a disease.
Many supporters of therapeutic fasting believe that through fasting the body is cleansed of unnecessary substances. That is why they immediately "hooked" on Osumi's discovery, seeing in it confirmation of their theory. Although Osumi himself never said anything about the benefits of fasting (see also: "5 popular medical myths that you still believe in").
What is Ekadashi fasting?
Ekadashi fasting is a 24-hour intermittent fasting technique on the 11th day after the full moon and new moon of each lunar month in the Hindu calendar.
Hindu culture is considered one of the oldest in the world. Her concepts are based on the close connection between the spiritual and physical components of the human body. According to Hindus, in the process of life in the human body, "slags" are constantly accumulating - harmful substances that must be disposed of.
One of the ways is not to eat or drink anything during the day. According to Hindus, during this time the body, in conditions of a lack of food and water, experiences stress and accelerates metabolic processes, strenuously removing toxins from the body. According to the logic of the Ekadashi fasting technique, in this way the body can allegedly be cured of various diseases: hypertension, diabetes, asthma, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and many others.
What about in practice?
All this sounds tempting, doesn't it? However, the problem is that the official position of science in this regard sounds rather unambiguous: being in a state of dehydration and a calorie deficit is harmful. Advocates of evidence-based medicine do not support fasting therapy, which is referred to as so-called alternative medicine. Her ideas, including those of curative and intermittent fasting, have no scientific evidence (see also: What is Intermittent Fasting?).
One should definitely not resort to fasting Ekadashi: pregnant women, nursing mothers, people with cardiovascular and oncological diseases, kidney disease, tuberculosis, gout, thrombophlebitis, anorexia, people with underweight and people taking potent drugs.
Ekadashi fasting technique and rules
So, if you still want to test yourself for strength by fasting Ekadashi, but do not want to harm your health, you should adhere to a certain set of rules:
Ideally, fasting for a day on Ekadashi would involve a complete rejection of food and water. Those who find it difficult can adhere to the incomplete Ekadashi fasting technique, in which it is allowed to eat food that does not contain grains or legumes, but only once in the afternoon. The diet can consist of any root vegetables (except beets), water, nuts, dairy products, sugar, fruits, and all vegetables except mushrooms. During Ekadashi fasting, one should try to drink and eat no more than once a day.
- The start and end times of Ekadashi fasting depend on the time zone of a particular region. In order to determine the exact time of entry and exit from Ekadashi, there are special programs for accurately calculating the duration of fasting.
- The day before the beginning of Ekadashi fasting, it is important to exclude heavy food from the diet, and when leaving, start with water, gradually switching to liquid food and only then returning to the usual diet.
It is important to emphasize again: today there is no scientific evidence of the benefits of dry intermittent fasting (Ekadashi fasting), so if you decide to try this technique, you must first consult with a specialist. Remember: everything is poison and everything is medicine, the main thing is measure.
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