Fasting in all religions

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Your continued donations keep Wikipedia running! Fasting From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. Concerning that from which one fasts, and the period of fasting, a fast may be total or partial. It may be observed unbroken for many uninterrupted days, or be observed only for certain periods during the day, as is the Muslim practise during the holy month of Ramadan. Depending on the tradition, fasting practices may forbid sexual activity as well as food, in addition to refraining from eating certain types or groups of foods; for example, meat may be refrained from. Medical fasting can be a way to promote detoxification. Fasting for religious and spiritual reasons has been a part of human custom since pre-history. It is mentioned in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testament, the Qur'an, the Mahabharata, and the Upanishads. Fasting is also practiced in many other religious traditions and spiritual practices. Contents [hide] 1 Religious fasting 1.1 Bah' faith 1.2 Buddhism 1.3 Fasting practice in Christianity 1.3.1 Biblical accounts of fasting 1.3.2 Denominations and groups Charismatic Eastern Orthodox Church Protestant churches Roman Catholicism 1.3.3 Latter-day Saints 1.4 Hinduism 1.5 Islam 1.6 Jainism 1.7 Judaism 1.7.1 Purpose of fasting in Judaism 1.8 Sikhism 2 Medical fasting 3 Political fasting and hunger strikes 4 Physical effects of fasting 5 Fasting in literature 6 Other 7 See also 8 References 9 External links

[edit] Religious fasting [edit] Bah' faith Main article: Nineteen Day Fast In the Bah' Faith, fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset during the Bah' month of `Ala' (between March 2 through March 20). Bah'u'llh established the guidelines in the Kitb-i-Aqdas. It is the complete abstaining from both food and drink (including abstaining from smoking). Observing the fast is an individual obligation, and is binding on all Bah's who have reached the age of maturity, which is fifteen years of age.

Along with obligatory prayer, it is one of the greatest obligations of a Bah'. The Guardian of the Bah' Faith, Shoghi Effendi, explains: "It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires." [edit] Buddhism Buddhist monks and nuns following the Vinaya rules commonly do not eat each day after the noon meal, though many orders today do not enforce this. This is not considered a fast, but rather a disciplined regime aiding in meditation. Fasting is generally considered by Buddhists as a form of asceticism and as such is rejected as a deviation from the Middle way. However, the Vajrayana practice of Nyung Ne is based on the tantric practice of Chenrezig. It is said that Chenrezig appeared to Gelongma Palmo, an Indian nun who had contracted leprosy and was on the verge of death. Chenrezig taught her the method of Nyung Ne in which one keeps the eight precepts on the first day, then refrains from both food and water on the second. Although seemingly against the Middle Way, this practice is to experience the negative karma of both oneself and all other sentient beings and, as such, is seen to be of benefit. Other self-inflicted harm is discouraged. [edit] Fasting practice in Christianity The "acceptable fast" is discussed in the biblical Book of Isaiah, chapter 58:3-7, and is discussed metaphorically. In essence, it means to abstain from satisfying hunger or thirst, and any other lustful needs we may yearn for. The blessings gained from this are claimed to be substantial. Christian denominations that practice this acceptable fast often attest to the spiritual principles surrounding fasting and seek to become a testament to those principles. They often cite Jesus, who discussed a particular type of demon as being exorcisable "only by fasting and prayer". The opening chapter of the Book of Daniel, vv. 8-16, describes a partial fast and its effects on the health of its observers. Fasting is a practice in several Christian denominations or other churches. Other Christian denominations do not practice it, seeing it as a merely external observance, but many individual believers choose to observe fasts at various times at their own behest, and the Lenten fast observed in Anglicanism is a forty day partial fast to commemorate the fast observed by Christ during his temptation in the desert. [edit] Biblical accounts of fasting Moses fasted for forty days and forty nights while he was on the mountain with God. (Exodus 34:28) King David fasted when the son of his adulterous union with Bathsheba was struck sick by God, in punishment for the adultery and for David's murder of Bathsheba's husband, Uriah the Hittite. Nevertheless, the son died, upon which David broke his fast (2 Samuel 12:15-25). King Jehosaphat proclaimed a fast throughout Judah for victory over the Moabites and Ammonites who were attacking them (2 Chronicles 20:3). The prophet Isaiah chastised the Israelites in Isaiah 58 for the unrighteous methods and motives of their fasting. He clarified some of the best reasons for fasting and listed both physical and spiritual benefits that would result.[1] The prophet Joel called for a fast to avert the judgement of God. The people of Nineveh in response to Jonah's prophecy, fasted to avert the judgement of God (Jonah 3:7). The Pharisees in Jesus' time fasted regularly, and asked Jesus why his disciples

did not. Jesus answered them using a parable (Luke 5:33-39). Jesus also warned against fasting to gain favor from men. He warned his followers that they should fast in private, not letting others know they were fasting (Matthew 6:1618). Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights while in the desert, prior to the three temptations (Matthew 4:2, Luke 4:2). Jesus said : Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:21) And he (Jesus) said unto them (disciples), This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:29) The prophetess Anna, who proclaimed the birth of Jesus in the Temple, fasted regularly (Luke 2:37). There are indications in the New Testament as well as from the Apocryphal Didache that members of the early Christian Church fasted regularly. [edit] Denominations and groups [edit] Charismatic For Charismatic Christians fasting is undertaken at the leading of God. Fasting is done in order to seek a closer intimacy with God, as well as an act of petition. Some take up a regular fast of one or two days a week as a spiritual observance. Holiness movements, such as those started by John Wesley, Charles Wesley, and George Whitefield in the early days of Methodism, often practice such regular fasts as part of their regimen. [edit] Eastern Orthodox Church Main article: Eastern_Orthodoxy#Fasting For Orthodox Christians, there are four fasting seasons, which include Nativity, Great Lent, Apostles' Fast and Dormition. Fasting during these times also includes abstention from animal products, olive oil (or all oils, according to some Orthodox traditions), wine and spirits -- see Eastern Orthodoxy (Fasting). With exception of the Fifty days following Easter in the Coptic Orthodox Church fish is not allowed during Lent , Wednesdays, Fridays and Baramon days. Other than that Fish and Shellfish are allowed during Fasting days. See Coptic abstinence The discipline of fasting entails that apart from Saturdays, Sundays and Holy feasts should keep a total fast from all food and drink from midnight the night before to a certain time in the day usually Three O'clock in the afternoon (The hour Jesus died on the Cross) , Also it is preferred to practice the reduction of one's daily intake of food (typically, by eating only one full meal a day). See Coptic abstinence Fasting can take up a significant portion of the calendar year. The idea is not to suffer, but to use the experience to come closer to God, to realize one's excesses and for alms giving. Fasting without prayer and almsgiving (donating the money saved to a local charity, or directly to the poor, depending on circumstances) is considered useless or even spiritually harmful by many Orthodox Christians. Those desiring to receive Holy Communion keep a total fast from all food and drink from midnight the night before. [edit] Protestant churches In Protestantism, the continental Reformers criticized fasting as a purely

external observance that can never gain a person salvation. The Swiss Reformation of the "Third Reformer" Huldrych Zwingli began with an ostentatious public sausage-eating during Lent. On the other hand, churches of the Anglican Communion and some American Protestant denominations, such as the United Methodist Church, affected by liturgical renewal movements encourage fasting as part of both Lent and Advent, two penitential seasons of the Liturgical Year. Likewise, Lutheran churches encourage fasting during lent. They also encourage it before partaking in the Eucharist, as Luther writes in his Small Catechism: Who, then, receives such Sacrament worthily? Fasting and bodily preparation is, indeed, a fine outward training; but he is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins.[citation needed] Other Protestants consider fasting, usually accompanied by prayer, to be an important part of their personal spiritual experience, apart from any liturgical tradition. [edit] Roman Catholicism Main article: Fasting and Abstinence in the Roman Catholic Church For Roman Catholics, fasting is the reduction of one's intake of food to one full meal (which may not contain meat during lent, only fish) and two small meals (known liturgically as collations, taken in the morning and the evening). Eating solid food between meals is not permitted. Fasting is required of the faithful on specified days. Complete abstinence is the avoidance of meat for the entire day. Partial abstinence prescribes that meat be taken only once during the course of the day. To some Roman Catholics, fasting still means consuming nothing but water. Pope Pius XII had initially relaxed some of the regulations concerning fasting in 1956. In 1966, Pope Paul VI in his apostolic constitution Paenitemini, changed the strictly regulated Catholic fasting requirements. He recommended that fasting be appropriate to the local economic situation, and that all Catholics voluntarily fast and abstain. In the United States, there are only two obligatory days of fast - Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence: those observing the practice may not eat meat. Pastoral teachings since 1966 have urged voluntary fasting during Lent and voluntary abstinence on the other Fridays of the year. The regulations concerning such activities do not apply when the ability to work or the health of a person would be negatively affected. Prior to the changes made by Pius XII and Paul VI, fasting and abstinence were more strictly regulated. The church had prescribed that Catholics observed fasting and/or abstinence on a number of days throughout the year. In addition to the fasts mentioned above, Catholics must also observe the Eucharistic Fast, which involves taking nothing but water and medicines into the body for some time before receiving the Eucharist during the Mass. The ancient practice was to fast from midnight until Mass that day, but as Masses after noon and in the evening became common, this was soon modified to fasting for three hours. Current law under Vatican II requires merely one hour of eucharistic fast, although some Catholics still abide by the older rules. [edit] Latter-day Saints Latter-day Saint fasting is total abstinence from food and water. Adherents are encouraged to fast totally for two meal times once a month, and the first Sunday of the month is usually designated a Fast Sunday; many Latter-day Saints who

observe the monthly fast begin the Saturday before this day by not partaking of the Saturday evening meal. Others abstain from breakfast and lunch on Fast Sunday. The money saved by not having to purchase and prepare meals is to be donated to the church as a fast offering, which is to be used to help people in need. LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley asked: What would happen if the principles of fast day and the fast offering were observed throughout the world[?] The hungry would be fed, the naked clothed, the homeless sheltered. A new measure of concern and unselfishness would grow in the hearts of people everywhere. (The State of the Church, Ensign, May 1991, 5253.) Sunday worship meetings on Fast Sunday include opportunities for church members to publicly express thanks and to bear their testimony of faith. Because fasting involves exercising control of the physical body, subjugating it to the mind, many Latter-day Saints consider fasting a way to focus on the spiritual body, and use it in connection with prayer to make it more meaningful. [edit] Hinduism Fasting is a very integral part of the Hindu religion. Individuals observe different kinds of fasts based on personal beliefs and local customs. Some are listed belowSome Hindus fast on certain days of the month such as Ekadasi (the eleventh day of each lunar fortnight) or Purnima (full moon). Certain days of the week are also set aside for fasting depending on personal belief and favorite deity. Thursday fast is very common in Hindu Religion of north India,They could be Varshney, Agarwal or other caste. On Thursday devotees listen to a story before breaking their fast. On the Thursday fast devotees also worship Vrihaspati Mahadeva or Jupiter. They wear yellow clothes and shower yellow flowers. Meals with yellow colour are preferred. Women worship the banana tree and water it. Food items are made with yellow-coloured cows ghee. Fasting during religious festivals is also very common. Common examples are Shivaratri or the 9 days of Navratri (which occurs twice a year in the months of April and October/November during Dussera just before Diwali, as per the Hindu Calendar). Karwa Chauth is perhaps a form of fasting unique to the northern part of India where married women undertake a fast for the well-being, prosperity, and longevity of their husbands. The Fast is broken after the wife views the moon through a sieve after sunset. Methods of fasting also vary widely and cover a broad spectrum. If followed strictly, the person fasting does not partake any food or water from the previous day's sunset until 48 minutes after the following day's sunrise. Fasting can also mean limiting oneself to one meal during the day and/or abstaining from eating certain food types and/or eating only certain food-types. In any case, even if the fasting Hindu is non-vegetarian, he/she is not supposed to eat or even touch any animal products (i.e. meat, eggs)on a day of fasting. And fasting is also mean one whole day (for those people can take) from morning until night of until the next day too, with no food and water, or can breakfast in the evening with water, milk and fruits too. [edit] Islam Main article: Sawm In Islam, fasting for a month is an obligatory practice during the holy month of Ramadan, from fajr (dawn), until maghrib (sunset). Muslims are prohibited from eating, drinking, smoking, and engaging in sexual intercourse while fasting. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the Pillars of Islam, and thus one of

the most important acts of Islamic worship. By fasting, whether during Ramadan or other times, a Muslim draws closer to their Lord by abandoning the things they enjoy, such as food and drink. This makes the sincerity of their faith and their devotion to God (Arabic:Allah) all the more evident. God says in the Qur'an that fasting was prescribed for those before them (i.e., the Jews and Christians) and that by fasting a Muslim gains 'taqwa', which can be described as the care taken by a person to do everything God has commanded and to keep away from everything that He has forbidden. Fasting helps prevent many sins and is a shield with which the Muslim protects him/herself from jahannam (hell). Muslims believe that fasting is more than abstaining from food and drink. It also includes abstaining from any falsehood in speech and action, from any ignorant and indecent speech, and from arguing and fighting, and lustful thoughts. Therefore, fasting helps develop good behavior. Fasting also inculcates a sense of fraternity and solidarity, as Muslims feel and experience what their needy and hungry brothers and sisters feel. However, even the poor, needy, and hungry participate in the fast. Moreover, Ramadan is a month of giving charity and sharing meals to break the fast together. While fasting in the month of Ramadan is considered fard (obligatory), Islam also prescribed certain days for non-obligatory, voluntary fasting, such as: each Monday and Thursday of a week the 13th, 14th, and 15th day of each lunar month six days in the month of Shawwal (the month following Ramadan) the Day of Arafat (9th of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic (Hijri) calendar) the Day of Ashuraa (10th of Muharram in the Islamic (Hijri) calendar), with one more day of fasting before or after it [edit] Jainism There are many types of fasting in Jainism. One is called Chauvihar Upwas, in which no food or water may be consumed until sunrise the next day. Another is called Tivihar Upwas, in which no food may be consumed, but boiled water is allowed. Fasting is usually done during Paryushana but can be done during other times. If one fasts for the eight days of Paryushana, it is called Atthai. Also, it is common for Jains not to fast but only to limit their intake of food. When a person only eats lentils and tasteless food with salt and pepper as the only spices, the person is said to do Ayambil. This is supposed to decrease desire and passion. Self-starvation by fasting is known as Sallekhana and is supposed to help shed karma according to Jain philosophy. Another form of fasting is Santhara , the Jain religious ritual of voluntary death by fasting. Supporters of the practice believe that Santhara cannot be considered suicide, but rather something one does with full knowledge and intent, while suicide is viewed as emotional and hasty. Due to the prolonged nature of Santhara, the individual is given ample time to reflect on his or her life. The vow of Santhara is taken when one feels that one's life has served its purpose. The goal of Santhara is to purify the body and, with this, the individual strives to abandon desire. [edit] Judaism Main article: Ta'anit Fasting for Jews means completely abstaining from food and drink, including water. Taking medication, or even brushing teeth is forbidden on the major fast days of Yom Kippur and Tisha B'Av (See below), but permitted on minor fast days. Observant Jews fast on six days of the year. With the exception of Yom Kippur, fasting is never permitted on Shabbat, for the commandment of keeping Shabbat is biblically

ordained and overrides the later rabbinically-instituted fast days. Yom Kippur is the only fast day which is explicitly stated in the Torah. Yom Kippur is considered to be the most important day of the Jewish year and fasting as a means of repentance is mandatory for every Jewish man and boy above the age of bar mitzvah and every Jewish woman and girl above the age of bat mitzvah. It is so vital to fast on this day, that only the very sick and women who have just given birth may be given a dispension from a rabbi. Fasting on Yom Kippur is considered more important than the prayers of this holy day. If one fasts, even if one is at home in bed, one is considered as having participated in the full religious service. In addition to fasting and prayer, Yom Kippur--as the "Sabbath of the Sabbaths" has the same restrictions regarding "work" as the Sabbath. Carrying outside of the home, using electricity, cooking, riding in a car, using the telephone, writing, etc. are all forbidden. No leather shoes are worn on this day. Men wear a white gown over their clothes, symbolic of a burial shroud on this Day of Judgement. Women often wear a large white scarf over their heads and do not put on make-up or Jewelry. The aura of the day is serious, humble, sacred and repentant yet happy in the knowledge that sincere repentance brings redemption. The second major day of fasting is Tisha B'Av, the day nearly 2000 years ago on which the Romans destroyed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the Jews were banished from their homeland. Tisha B'Av ends a period of nine days in which Jews do not participate in happy events, wash clothes, eat meat except on the Sabbath, cut hair or swim. In general, these nine days and to some extent the entire three weeks before Tisha B'Av are considered a time of danger for Jews. Historically, this timeframe has been ripe with persecutions and other tragic events. Unlike the fast of Yom Kippur, there are no restrictions on activities, although one should try to avoid doing regular work the first part of the day, sit in a low chair or on the floor, and wear no leather shoes. This is also the day when Orthodox Jews remember the many tragedies which have befallen the Jewish people, including the Holocaust. The atmosphere of this holiday is serious and deeply sad. Both of these holy days are considered major fasts and are observed from sunset to sunset the following day by both men and women. The remaining four fasts are considered minor and fasting is only observed from sunrise to sunset. Men must observe them, and women should observe them, but a rabbi may often give dispensions if the fast represents too much of a hardship to a sick or weak person. The minor fast days are: The Fast of Gedaliah The Fast of the 10th of Tevet The Fast of the 17th of Tammuz, The Fast of Esther, which takes place immediately before Purim Additional fast days such as the Fast of the Firstborn, which only applies to first-born sons; family-instituted fasts in remembrance of a miraculous delivery from tragedy, which only apply to certain families or to certain regions; communal fasts in the face of impending calamity in order to arouse benevolence from the Heavens; or personal fasts as a means of repentance are not undertaken by the entire Jewish community. On the two major fast days it is also forbidden to engage in any sexual relations, wash or bathe, apply cosmetics or creams, and even wear leather shoes, which are considered a symbol of extravagance. Partial or total exemptions apply in many cases for those who are ill, those for whom fasting would pose a medical risk, pregnant women, and nursing mothers. Those who would be endangered from fasting

are forbidden to do so, as endangering one's life is against a core principle of Judaism. Aside from these official days of fasting, Jews may take upon themselves personal or communal fasts, often to seek repentance in the face of tragedy or some impending calamity. For example, a fast is observed if the scrolls of the Torah are dropped. The length of the fast varies, and some Jews will reduce the length of the fast through tzedakah, or charitable acts. [edit] Purpose of fasting in Judaism Judaism views three essential potential purposes of fasting, and a combination of some or all of these could apply to any given fast. One purpose in fasting is the achievement of atonement for sins and omissions in Divine service. Fasting is not considered the primary means of acquiring atonement; rather, sincere regret for and rectification of wrongdoing is key (see Isaiah, 58:1-13, which appropriately is read as the haftorah on Yom Kippur). Nevertheless, fasting is conducive to atonement, for it tends to precipitate contrition in the one who fasts (see Joel, 2:12-18). This is why the Bible requires fasting (lit. self affliction) on Yom Kippur (see Leviticus, 23:27,29,32; Numbers, 29:7; Tractate Yoma, 8:1; ibid. (Babylonian Talmud), 81a). Because, according to the Hebrew Bible, hardship and calamitous circumstances can occur as a result of wrongdoing (see, for example, Leviticus, 26:14-41), fasting is often undertaken by the community or by individuals to achieve atonement and avert catastrophe (see, for example, Esther, 4:3,16; Jonah, 3:7). Most of the Talmud's Tractate Ta'anit ("Fast[s]") is dedicated to the protocol involved in declaring and observing fast days. The second purpose in fasting is commemorative mourning. Indeed, most communal fast days that are set permanently in the Jewish calendar fulfil this purpose. These fasts include: Tisha B'Av, Seventeenth of Tammuz, Tenth of Tevet (all of the three dedicated to mourning the loss of the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem), and Fast of Gedaliah. The purpose of a fast of mourning is the demonstration that those fasting are impacted by and distraught over earlier loss. This serves to heighten appreciation of that which was lost. This is in line with Isaiah (66:10), who indicates that mourning over a loss leads to increased happiness upon return of the loss: Be glad with Jerusalem, and exult in her, all those who love her; rejoice with her in celebration, all those [who were] mourners over her. The third purpose in fasting is commemorative gratitude. Since food and drink are corporeal needs, abstinence from them serves to provide a unique opportunity for focus on the spiritual. Indeed, the Midrash explains that fasting can potentially elevate one to the exalted level of the Mal'achay HaSharait (ministering angels) (Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer, 46). This dedication is considered appropriate gratitude to God for providing salvation. Additionally, by refraining from such basic physical indulgence, one can more greatly appreciate the dependence of humanity on God, leading to appreciation of God's benificience in sustaining His creations. Indeed, Jewish philosophy considers this appreciation one of the fundamental reasons for which God endowed mankind with such basic physical needs as food and drink. This is seen from the text of the blessing customarily recited after consuming snacks or drinks: You are the Source of all blessing, O' Eternal One, our God, King of the universe, Creator of many souls, who gave [those souls] needs for all that which You created, to give life through them to every living soul. Blessed is the Eternal Life-giver.

[edit] Sikhism Sikhism is probably the only major organised world religion that does not promote fasting except for medical reasons. The Sikh Gurus discourage the devotee from engaging in this ritual as it is considered to "brings no spiritual benefit to the person". The Sikh holy Scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib tell us: "Fasting, daily rituals, and austere self-discipline - those who keep the practice of these, are rewarded with less than a shell."(SGGS page 216). So most Sikhs have never undertaken a fast of any kind. [edit] Medical fasting People can also fast for medical reasons, which has been an accepted practice for many years. One reason is to prepare for surgery or other procedures that require anesthetic. Because the presence of food in a person's system can cause complications when they are anesthetized, medical personnel strongly suggest that their patients fast for several hours (or overnight) before the procedure. Another reason for medical fasting is for certain medical tests, such as cholesterol testing (lipid panel). People are often asked to fast so that a baseline can be established. In the case of cholesterol, the failure to fast for a full 12 hours (including vitamins) will guarantee an elevated Triglyceride measurement. A longer fast for health reasons typically lasts a week or longer and includes some food intake, such as fruit or vegetable juices, as part of a detox diet. Some doctors believe that pure water fasting can not only detoxify cells and rejuvenate organs, but can actually cure [2] such diseases and conditions as cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, colitis, psoriasis, lupus and some other autoimmune disorders when combined with a healthy diet. They believe that "Fasting is Nature's Restorer."[3] Recent studies on mice show that fasting every other day while eating double the normal amount of food on non-fasting days led to improved insulin and blood sugar control, neuronal resistance to injury, and health indicators superior to mice on 40% calorie restricted diets.[4][5] This may mean that alternate-day fasting is an alternative to caloric restriction for life extension. However, it has not been tested on humans. People who feel they are near the end of their life sometimes consciously refuse food or water. The term in the medical literature is patient refusal of nutrition and hydration. Contrary to popular impressions, published studies[6] indicate that "within the context of adequate palliative care, the refusal of food and fluids does not contribute to suffering among the terminally ill", and might actually contribute to a comfortable passage from life: "At least for some persons, starvation does correlate with reported euphoria." In natural medicine, fasting is seen as a way of cleansing the body of toxins, dead or diseased tissues, and giving the gastro-intestinal system a rest. Such fasts are either water-only, or consist of fruit and vegetable juices. Some results have been achieved while including fasting in the treatment of some kinds of cancer,[7] autoimmune diseases,[8]and allergies.[9] [edit] Political fasting and hunger strikes Main article: Hunger strike Political fasts (today more commonly known as the hunger strikes) have been around

since antiquity. Fasting was used as a method of protest and receiving justice in pre-Christian Ireland, as well as in India. One of the most famous people to go on a political fast was Mohandas Gandhi. Some people see a difference between a hunger strike, a pure political act, and fasting, a political and religious act. By fasting, they intend to take some of the responsibility of the problem in question. Hunger strikes have been used by personalities all over the world, including Martin Luther King Jr., Bobby Sands, Csar Chvez, and Lanza del Vasto (during the Algerian War, Vatican II and the struggle of the farmers of the Larzac plateau). Today, hunger strikes are often used by refugees seeking political asylum. A crossover between the religious fast and the political fast can be seen in 30 Hour Famine, an event run annually by the Christian relief organization World Vision Australia, in which participants fast for 30 hours to raise awareness of world hunger and funds for World Vision's relief efforts. Each year the 30 Hour Famine draws hundreds of thousands of participants throughout the Pacific Rim and beyond. In India, the tradition of political fasts continue. Politicians participate in short token fasts for gaining media attention. But people's movements in India, many organized around Gandhi's doctrine of non-violence and truth, continue to use fasting as a means of peaceful protest. Members of the Narmada Bachao Andolan have often employed this tool of protest, with decreasing efficacy.[citation needed] [edit] Physical effects of fasting When food is not eaten, the body looks for other ways to find energy, such as drawing on glucose from the liver's stored glycogen and fatty acids from stored fat and eventually moving on to vital protein tissues. Body, brain and nerve tissue depend on glucose for metabolism. Once the glucose is significantly used up, the body's metabolism changes, producing ketone bodies (acetoacetate, hydroxybutyrate, and acetone). Even where this transition to alternative forms of energy has been made, some parts of the brain still require glucose, and protein is still needed to produce it. If body protein loss continues, death will ensue. Short term fasting causes a starvation response that encourages the body to store fat once eating is resumed. This is one of the pitfalls of Yo-yo dieting. The starvation response is the switching of the body from carb+fat energy generation to amino acid+fat energy generation. The amino acids are synthesised from the breakdown of muscle tissue. Since muscle tissue is always metabolically active and requires energy to function, the reduction of muscle tissue also reduces the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Basal metabolic rate is the absolute minimum energy requirement of your body while at rest. it can be compared to a car's fuel requirement when idling the engine. One of the effects of fasting is to reduce the body's energy needs during times of scarcity, analogous to turning the idle lower or replacing a big engine with a small engine. Thus, when the same amount of food is eaten, fewer of the calories are required for basal metabolism, but the rest, a greater percentage than before the fast, are stored as fat. After approximately three days of fasting, feelings of hunger usually become infrequent or disappear altogether. According to Herbert M. Shelton, N.D., N.D.Litt., D.C., a proponent of Natural Hygiene, whose 45-year-long career of promoting water-only fasts for up to ninety days was punctuated by being repeatedly arrested for practicing medicine without a license, the 'hunger' experienced during the first three days of a fast is "gastric irritation", and not

"true hunger."[10] [edit] Fasting in literature Franz Kafka's short story A Hunger Artist (Ein Hungerknstler - 1922) describes a man who fasts as a form of art or theater. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (Siddhartha - 1922). Siddhartha lists his three skills - 'I can think, I can wait, I can fast' [edit] Other The Bridegroom Fast - This fast was initiated by the leaders of the International House of Prayer, and is observed on the first Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of each month. Based on Matthew 9:15, its focus is intimacy with Christ, who is described in the Bible as the bridegroom of the Church. The fast is accompanied by services in Kansas City, which are freely accessible by webcast. It is observed largely in charismatic circles. Jene genevois (lit. "fast of Geneva") is a public holiday and day of fasting in the canton of Geneva, Switzerland, occurring on the Thursday following the first Sunday of September. [edit] See also Water fasting Juice fasting Natural Hygiene Asceticism Black Fast Calorie restriction Fruitarianism Poustinia Simple living Taboo food and drink Vegetarianism and religion Santhara [edit] References ^ Isaiah ^ Fuhrman, Joel, MD, Fasting and Eating for Health : A Medical Doctor's Program for Conquering Disease 1998, pp. 1, 3, 21-23, 56-59, 70-72, 79-81 ISBN 0-31218719-X ^ Fuhrman, Joel, MD, Fasting and Eating for Health : A Medical Doctor's Program for Conquering Disease 1998, p. 13 ISBN 0-312-18719-X ^ Anson, R. Michael; Rafael de Cabo, Titilola Iyun, Michelle Rios, Adrienne Hagepanos, Donald K. Ingram, Mark A. LaneDagger, Mark P. Mattson (May 13, 2003). "Intermittent fasting dissociates beneficial effects of dietary restriction on glucose metabolism and neuronal resistance to injury from calorie intake". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 100 (10): 6216-6220. DOI:10.1073. pnas.1035720100. Retrieved on 2006-11-30. ^ Wan, Ruiqian; Simonetta Camandola, Mark P. Mattson (June, 2003). "Intermittent Food Deprivation Improves Cardiovascular and Neuroendocrine Responses to Stress in Rats". The Journal of Nutrition (133): 1921-1929. Retrieved on 2006-11-30. ^ ^ Shelton, H M, Fasting Can Save Your Life. American Natural Hygiene Society Inc. 1964, Fourth Printing 1991, pp. 38-9, 160-3. ISBN 0-914532-23-5 ^ Shelton, H.M., page 107-13. ^ Shelton, H.M., pages 122-4. ^ Shelton, H M, Fasting Can Save Your Life. American Natural Hygiene Society Inc. 1964, Fourth Printing 1991, p. 34. ISBN 0-914532-23-5

[edit] External links Fasting - Longer than one day 40 Hour Famine Therapeutic Fasting - Worldwide Links Ramadan - Fasting in Islam The fast of Karwa Chauth Western Orthodox Fasting Rules Why Spiritual Juice Fasting Fasting in Ramadan Picture Gallery of Santhara fasting : Jainism Fasting and Sun Bathing -- Shelton Retrieved from "" Categories: Articles with unsourced statements since March 2007 | All articles with unsourced statements | Nutrition | Alternative medicine | Asceticism | Biologically based therapies | Religious behaviour and experience | Eating behaviors | Diets | Fasting ViewsArticle Discussion Edit this page History Personal toolsSign in / create account Navigation Main page Contents Featured content Current events Random article interaction About Wikipedia Community portal Recent changes Contact us Make a donation Help Search Toolbox What links here Related changes Upload file Special pages Printable version Permanent link Cite this article In other languages Dansk Deutsch Eesti Espaol Esperanto Franais Hrvatski Bahasa Indonesia Italiano Kurd / Bahasa Melayu

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