Maha Shivratri, also known as the ‘Great night of Lord Shiva,’ is a Hindu festival observed by devotees from Kashmir to Kanyakumari with much fervor. According to the Hindu Lunar calendar, it is celebrated on the 14th day of the dark fortnight of the Magha month.
People celebrate Mahashivratri by fasting, chanting prayers, making offerings to the Shiva deity, meditating, doing yoga, consuming Bhaang, etc. However, fasting is a very important part of the celebration of the festival.
The Mahashivratri fast is different from most Hindu fasts as in most fasts, one can consume food and other items after performing the Pooja, and the fast is considered completed.
However, the Mahashivratri fast continues all through the day and night.
Fasting has some health benefits that you should know about. Apart from the spiritual belief that fasting on Mahashivratri can wash away one’s sins, here are the many health benefits that fasting can have.
What are the types of fasting?
Sakina Diwan, Dietician, Bhatia Hospital Mumbai said, “There are three main types of fasts: calorie restriction, nutrient restriction, and intermittent fasting”
Calorie Restriction Fasts
Ms. Diwan says, “The most basic type of fast is a calorie restriction fast. This is what most people think about when they hear the term “fasting”. It is simply going without food for a certain period of time. These types of fasts are typically done between 18-48 hours.”
Macro Nutrient Restriction Fasts
This type of fast involves restricting a certain macronutrient (The three macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats). Typically, these fasts are protein deloads. These types of fast work best for athletes who have a higher protein requirement and are consistently stressing their guts. In this type of fast, the athlete will consume only high-quality fats, carbohydrates, and thoroughly cooked vegetables for 2-3 days a month, said Ms. Diwan.
The reduction in protein consumption will give the gut a break and allow it to heal. Keep in mind that it is still important to make sure that their activity is very minimal during this time period.
It is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.it usually ranges from 14-18 hours.
What is the relationship between fasting in detoxification of the body?
“When we fast, the body does not have its usual access to glucose, forcing the cells to resort to other means and materials to produce energy. As a result, the body begins gluconeogenesis, a natural process of producing its own sugar. The liver helps by converting non-carbohydrate materials like lactate, amino acids, and fats into glucose energy. Because our bodies conserve energy during fasting, our basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy our bodies burn while resting) becomes more efficient, thereby lowering our heart rate and blood pressure,” said Ms. Diwan.
How fasting can offer excellent health benefits?
Fasting can help you lose weight – Fasting every day has been found to be just as effective for weight loss as traditional weight low-calorie diets.
Fasting keeps blood sugar nice and steady – As you fast, your body gradually relies more on fat than on carbs for energy, and your insulin production decreases. Intermittent fasting can also do a bang-up job of reducing insulin resistance. That, in turn, can help make your body more sensitive to insulin, which translates into more stable blood sugar and fewer spikes and crashes.
It’s anti-inflammatory – You’ve probably heard that chronic inflammation is tied to a higher risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. What you might not be aware of is that 1 month of daily 12-hour fasts could be enough to lower levels of inflammatory markers in your body. That could help keep your body in better shape as a whole.
It protects your heart – Long-term studies suggest that routine fasters are more than 70% less likely to have heart failure than folks who never fast.
Is it important that fasting should be done in a proper way?
• Fasting is the practice of abstaining from food and beverages for extended periods. Depending on how it’s done, it may boost your health.
• People may choose to fast for dietary, political, or religious purposes. One popular method is intermittent fasting, in which you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.
• To stay healthy while fasting, it’s best to keep fast periods short, avoid intensive exercise, and stay hydrated.
• Eating enough protein and keeping a balanced diet when you’re not fasting can also maintain overall health and ensure successful fasts.