Fasting is an ancient, religious custom found in most world religions. On the other hand, fasting is often used today to prevent, treat, or lose weight in certain chronic diseases of affluence. Is therapeutic fasting sensible?
In the German-speaking countries, several thousand patients annually undergo specialized fasting clinics as well as numerous sanatoriums and clinics for natural healing methods of a fasting cure. With well over 30 million far larger is the number of those, especially in the spring without medical supervision with the help of testimonials or books of guidebooks trying to slim down as much and quickly. This can be dangerous - many people underestimate the dangers of fasting, with serious complications occurring every year in fasting risk patients.
What is fasting?
Fasting is a religious practice in most of the world's religions, meaning that believers cleanse the body from religious festivals, make a personal sacrifice, or are atonement signs. When fasting is completely or partially dispensed with food for a certain time. Often only certain foods such as meat or fish are not eaten. To delimit from this is the fasting, which does not happen for religious reasons.
Fasting as a healing method
Already in the medicine of ancient Greece fasting was used as a healing method. Today, fasting is one of the natural remedies. The term therapeutic fasting goes back to Otto Buchinger, who opened a fasting clinic in Bad Pyrmont in 1935. In the same year he wrote a basic textbook on fasting and its spiritual and psychotherapeutic effects. In addition to the inpatient fasting cure, measures such as physical exercise, massages, warm baths, breathing training and lectures on "guiding the soul" were important to him.
Therapeutic fasting is used as part of a therapy to prevent nutritional disorders or positively influence their course. These include, for example, cardiovascular diseases and diseases of the digestive tract. It is also recommended to healthy people (to "purify" and strengthen the immune system). Likewise, the psychosocial and spiritual dimensions are part of fasting cure. Exercise, physiotherapy, psychotherapy, various naturopathic procedures (eg respiratory therapy, acupuncture, homeopathy), yoga, autogenic training and meditation as well as a follow-up program are possible contents.
A weight reduction is only a positive side effect. "Fasting is not suitable for losing weight in the long term, but starvation is worthwhile only if dietary habits change over the long term, " says Dr. Dieter. Helmut Oberritter from the German Nutrition Society.
What happens during fasting?
When fasting is completely or partially dispensed with food for a certain time. Often only certain foods such as meat or fish are not eaten. If the body receives no or less energy than it needs, it switches to the so-called hunger metabolism: The metabolism burns on the back burner. The organism then attacks its energy reserves in the form of glycogen, the body's carbohydrate reserves in the liver and muscles, body protein and fat and.
If you fast for too long or fasting children, the sick and the normal weight, attacking the energy reserves can be dangerous, since it can lead to a dangerous reduction of muscle protein (eg of organs such as the heart). Even with short-term fasting problems can occur: Fatigue, headache, sleep disorders, dizziness and sweats are known as so-called fasting crises. Also drop in blood pressure or an acute attack of gout can be the result of fasting.
Dr. Helmut Oberritter of the German Nutrition Society warns: "Only healthy adults should fast for longer periods of time and under medical supervision, for pregnant women, nursing mothers, children and adolescents, the elderly, people with severe general conditions and with existing heart disease or high uric acid levels prolonged fasting inappropriate and may be harmful to health. "