How fast are you?
When humans fast (not eating food) intermittently for extended periods of time, our bodies default to a catabolic state, this is a result of not consuming glucose and other dietary components from our diet in the form of simple and complex carbohydrates. Therefore, our body compensates and sources glucose by breaking down cells, such as adipose tissue (white fat cells) via the pentose phosphate system and eventually skeletal cells, producing physiological changes such as weight loss, stabilised blood sugar levels, faster metabolism and better cognition.
Fasting in today’s society has exploded in popularity with scientists and celebrities showcasing the latest health benefits of fasting, supported by growing scientific research identifying health benefits of; higher cognition, longevity, physical endurance and enhanced metabolism.
We are bombarded with continuous diet plans and eating regimes with the promises of 100% success rate to succeed IF we conform to such plans and regimes with the added financial cost. Through the glorified goal posts of success we are forfeited with an increase in depression and low self-esteem in young people and adults worrying and working tirelessly to reach these pseudo expectations. And some diet plans such as the Ketogenic diet has been observed to be dangerous to health if not monitored appropriately (doi: 10.12659/AJCR.917226).
Fasting is originally a core foundation to living a religious life in the Christian faith, providing time and opportunity for meditation and prayer. Fasting was common practice among the early Christians during and after the time (AD 30) of Jesus. Christians would fast to humble themselves, resulting in high appreciation for the food God provides and regular fasting twice a week was to strengthen an individual’s self-discipline and relationship with God. Jesus taught his disciples to look after themselves when fasting, not to walk around glum faced with messy hair and telling everyone they are fasting but fast and pray in private where only the Lord God knows of their true intentions (Matthew 6:16-18).
“So why don’t many Christians fast today?”
The church has been penetrated by Western culture, people don’t want to be uncomfortable or feel the grumble of hunger in their belly regardless of the spiritual, health and cognitive benefits. We must confess it is far easier to follow Jesus when everything is all “dandy” rather than leaning on him in times of struggle and persecution.
Jesus himself went into the desert to overcome temptation, greed and fame (Matthew 4:1-11). It is written in scripture that Jesus abstained from food for 40 days and 40 nights. How awesome it is to think what our perspective on life would be if we could imitate Jesus’ actions and overcome these factors which so many of us suffer over.
John Wesley, pioneer of the Methodist Church, is recorded as refusing a man’s Ordination on the grounds he did not fast twice a week as directed in the Didache. The Didache (meaning “Teaching” of the first Apostles) a 1st Century document clearly directs followers of Jesus to fast from the evening of Tuesday till Wednesday 15:00 afternoon and Thursday evening till Friday afternoon 15:00.
Caution! We are not called to fast as an action which paves the way for us to reach the celestial city of heaven. St Paul warns us we cannot be saved and give our life to Jesus through works alone (Galatians 2:16), it is when we act out our Christian faith with the true submission of mind, body and spirit in our day to day lives.
Peace be with you,