Science and Medicine about Fasting

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One of the key characteristics of my teachings of living on light has always been that I try to mix in science into it. While Breatharianism is a spiritual and religious experience and our minds can wander off into a spiritual interpretation, we still live in a physical body that is governed by science and medicine. Breatharians experience how the mind and body are connected, and we often want to establish new possibilities for our bodies. We experience things with our spirituality and bodies that seem to defy what science has told us is possible, and so it becomes tempting to disregard science altogether.

I am a student of conventional sciences and plan on a career in medical technology research. After years of absence from Breatharianism I have found my way back to it again and realize that spirituality is a normal and often quite essential and rewarding part of life and not something to be discarded simply because it is not defined in a physics books. But at the same time I love science and so I want to merge the two in my life and in our understanding of Breatharianism.

Science by definition accepts impersonal and collective impressions. Science defines its own world view and perception of reality but includes only things that can be agreed upon by a consensus of observers. Spirituality however is based on personal experiences that cannot be extracted, shown to others, proven or shared.

Let's see what science and medicine says about prolongued periods of fasting and if it knows about the spiritual experience that Breatharians experience. This page will successively add more content. In fact after more than ten years of being involved in Breatharianism I have only now begun to look at the science aspect.

Fasting

Wikipedia is a place to start Wikipedia - Fasting

Fasting is defined as the choice to cease to eat some or all foods and sometimes also with no drinking, and for a limited amount of time ranging for up to several days. Fasting is not something that would be unique to Breatharians. After 8 to 12 hours of no food (or drink?) the body is regarded as fasting. Throughout history and cultures, fasting has been used for healing certain medical conditions.

The body derives energy for its functions from the sugar molecule glucose. When the body has not eaten a new intake of glucose for more than 4 to 8 hours, it already begins to use glycogen; a storage of glucose found in the liver. Proteins are also already used to supplement the energy source. After 12 hours, the liver runs out of glycogen, and glycogen storages in muscle are now used. The glycogen from muscle lasts for a few more days. Beyond those few days, the body converts fat into sugar for energy source. Fat becomes converted into glucose, and feeds the brain with its energy.

The body uses fat for as long as there is fat available for energy usage. When fat levels are beginning to run very low, at less than 7% of body weight in males and less than 10% of body weight in females, the body produces an increased urge for food. Fasts are usually broken long before reaching this point. And if the fast is not broken by this time, the body begins to use protein for energy source and this is when the fast has turned into starvation.

Starvation due to fasting leads to adverse health affects. Electrolyte imbalances, thinning hair, lanugo. Lanugo means that the body starts to grow fine, downy hair that is similar to fur. This hair can appear in malnourished persons, and can be one of the symptoms that suggest to a doctor that the person may have anorexia nervosa. Other affects of starvation include cardiac arrhythmia, which is any abnormal electrical activity of the heart causing the heart beat to be too fast or too slow, and can be either regular or irregular. Some arrhythmia can cause palpitation, which is when a person has an abnormal awareness of the heart beat and it is experienced as annoying and uncomfortable. Arrhythmia can be deadly if it leads to cardiac arrest, which is when the heart is unable to contract properly, leading to abnormal blood circulation. Cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack. Heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is impaired. Cardiac arrest may imply that the body does not have the required delivery of oxygen to tissue. Lack of oxygen to the brain causes loss of consciousness, which then results in abnormal or absent breathing. If cardiac arrest lasts for more than five minutes, brain injury is likely. With proper and quick medical attention, a person can survive and recover from cardiac arrest, otherwise it can lead to death. The patient is given CPR followed by defibrillation, but that doesn't always work.

If starvation reaches complete starvation then death can occur.

Benefits of Fasting

Calorie restriction means to eat less food as part of an everyday adopted diet regime. Research has found that calorie restriction leads to several health benefits. Reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, insulin resistance, immune disorders. Stress resistance, increased insulin sensitivity, reduced morbidity. Morbidity means a diseased state in general, or disability, or poor health due to any cause, having any condition that affects the person. Aging slows down and life span increases.

Research suggests that intermittent fasting seems to give the same health benefits as calorie restriction. Intermittent fasting probably implies that a person eats normally on one day, and the next day they do fasting, and then the day after they eat normally again, and so forth, as opposed to a constant everyday restriction in normal eating habits.

Research has not done long-term studies on humans, and I assume that long-term studies means for a span of several months or years of intermittent fasting or calorie reduction, and not a long-term fasting (which would lead to starvation and death in human subjects).

Human subjects who were on a three week long trial (of either calorie restriction or intermittent fasting, it does not specify) experienced favorable weight loss, and the subjects felt cranky during the three week trial.

Greek Orthodox fasting periods improve the blood lipid profile, decrease in total and LDL cholesterol, and a decrease in the LDL to HDL cholesterol ratio, and a statistically insignificant reduction in HDL cholesterol - these results suggest positive impact on obesity levels of individuals who follow the Greek Orthodox fasting periods.

Changes in blood chemistry during fasting, in combination with certain medications, may be dangerous, such as an increased chance of acetaminophen poisoning. An excessive fasting for calorie restriction purposes accompanied with intense fears of becoming overweight are regarded as a mental disturbance, including anorexia nervosa.