Ayurveda and Fasting
Long-term fasting is not recommended in Ayurveda. Over restriction aggravates Vata in nearly everyone who attempts it. To fast regularly for one day every week or two is far better than to fast and then to binge. During an illness, one should fast as long as you have no real desire for food. As long you feel lighter, brighter, and healthier without food, continue your fast. As soon as you begin to lose your energy and feel real hunger, consume well cooked rice until it also fails to satisfy your appetite. Then switch to Kitchari (see recipe). Kitchari purifies and nourishes all tissues and is an ideal diet during prolonged therapy of any disease.
If you decide to fast, follow the restrictions for your constitution:
Vata people should not fast on water or any other severely restricted diet for more than one day or two. Absolute fasting for as little as a week can wreck metabolic balance in a Vata that may have taken months to obtain. They may fast on water with lemon juice and honey, juices, milk, fresh whey, or plain yogurt blended with water if not allergic to dairy. None of these should be refrigerator cold.
Pitta people can fast on fruit or vegetable juice or on raw fruits and vegetables, but not on water alone. They should not skip on quantity. Pittas can use diluted fruit juices, like grape, prune or pomegranate, or bitter or astringent vegetable juices like cucumber. Sour juices should be avoided.
Kapha people in particular need to develop a regular weekly fasting to promote strong digestion. They should avoid fasting on juices which are intensely sweet or sour.
To purify and detox the body and mind, Ayurveda recommends Panchakarma–the five purification methods that are used to rid the body of excess doshas (see Dosha test).
TODAY’S TIP: If you DO choose to fast for a prolonged period of time, you should get professional guidance beforehand. You may experience acute physical stress if your system begins to mobilize ama (toxins) faster than your organs of excretion can handle it.