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Fasting is the willful abstinence from food, all drinks, or both for a given period of time (Jarvins). Fasting may be absolute where an individual abstains completely from all food and drinks mainly for a single 24-hour day or many days. Other ways of fasting are considered partial, restricting an individual some or specific food or substances. Over the years, fasting has been very controversial owing to the different accounts on its effects on human health. Various trained physicians explain that fasting has many biologically proven benefits like eliminating body toxins whereas other scientists argue that it is yet to be proven. Fasting has been used as a demonstration of devotion to religion. Both proponents and opponents of fasting bring forth very sound arguments. This paper discusses whether or not fasting leads to a healthy body.
Various health complications have been documented boiling down from the adverse effects of fasting or starvation, which is fasting-induced. However, the proponents also have their fair share of reasons to defend the practice of fasting. One of the popular arguments is the one founded on detoxifying the body. They argue that fasting cleanses the body systems and helps to eliminate the cholesterol level in the body. Fasting therefore rests and cleans the liver. It is thus encouraged that foods with low calories like fruits and vegetables be taken during the fasting period (Azera). This, in their opinion makes the body more fit.
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Another benefit, which the proponents accrue to fasting, is weight loss. Fasting is a quick way for those who are overweight to cut their weight. Fasting causes a shortage of sugars or proteins in the blood, forcing the body to use the stored fats. This usage leads to their burning, reducing them, thereby causing weightless.
It is also claimed that fasting leads to an increased life span and reduces the aging process. The proponents explain that the process of aging results from chemicals suffocating biochemically in the body. An individual is young and healthy when the lowest link in the body cell is functioning normally, favoring repeated rebuilding, and regeneration of the cells to replace the dead ones. Diseases and aging set in when the link between these cells degenerates or starts behaving under normally, where regeneration and replacement of cell slows down. The slowing down is because of wastes accumulating in the tissues. These wastes and tissues can be reduced by fasting. Therefore, individuas should fast frequently to help reduce the wastes so that they remain younger (Ariola).
Divergent from the popular belief and arguments of the proponents, fasting does not cleanse the liver or give it time to rest. In fact, fasting is not only best way to cleanse the body. The dangers, which an individual poses to by fasting for the course of cleansing the body, are far more alarming. Fasting may damage the liver by overworking it. During fasting, it is saturated with toxins which are produced as a result of fasting itself. It is even more dangerous when the practice is supervised or done by die-hard individuals. These individuals blind themselves to the real implications of the practice. Many deaths have been documented resulting from unhealthy practices of fasting. A man, 49 years of age died of pneumonia of the bronchioles owing to fasting for 30 days, surviving of pure distilled water only (Jarvins). More dangerously, the proponents downplay the adverse effects of the fasting process saying that they are because of the body expelling the poisons. This school of thought is completely misguided. The adverse effects should be appreciated as the body’s natural way of reacting to pressure and suffering.
Weight loss by fasting is also discouraged on the premise that it causes unnecessary stress to the faster physically and physiologically. Fasting causes the body to change mode to self-preservation in a bid to check starvation. The body will therefore slow down metabolism and increase the secretion of cortisol. This stress hormone is produced by the adrenal glands. A large amount of cortisol will be deposited on the blood when an individual is suffering from some illness or stress. This will certainly make the individual fell mentally or emotionally stressed (Fitday). Muscles may be damaged in the process. Cortistol will convert some of the amino acids in the body to sugar. Sugar is important in the brain, red blood cells, and the kidneys. Releasing amino acids from the muscles is disintegrating the muscle tissues. The original objective of losing weight may even be slowed down since muscles are needed to burn the excess fat, which contributes to overweight. Increased hunger will further slow down the objective of losing weight. During fasting, the body will adapt by cutting production of thyroid hormones. Appetite will go down metabolism is also slowed down. When eating resumes, increased appetite with decreased metabolism will lead to weight increase (Fitday).
The argument about faasting increasing the life span and lowering the rate of aging is certainly unproven an unfounded. Human aging is affected by a multiplicity of factor. For one to keep age slowly, good measures include exercising, taking of supplements, keeping a low weight and using the right nutrition. Important organs like the brain need constant supply of sugars so that the individual remains active at optimum and youthful.
Fasting also causes many health problems. Fasting, especially when prolonged, causes a shortage of nutrients such as carbohydrates, vitamins, fatty acids, proteins, electrolytes and minerals. Various health problems could result owing to this, including headaches and migraines, fatigue, gallstones, anemia, dizziness, muscle weakness, hypoglycemia, dehydration, constipation and confusion. If an individual suffers from any disease, either terminal or any disease, fasting aggravates the situation and is hit harder by the implications of fasting. For expectant mothers, diabetic individuals and those recovering from surgery are at a greater risk. This is a clear indication that fasting cannot lead to a healthy body.
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Other dangers surrounding fasting are the feasting, which many people resort to after fasting. A lot of food after fasting causes bloating, lethargy, craving etc. The abrupt supply of food after fasting may invite problems such as indigestion. That explains why it is recommended that light foods be eaten when breaking the fast. However, many individuals do not do that, thereby exposing themselves to the above dangers.
In conclusion, fasting should be discouraged due the health hazards it poses as well as other physical issues accompanying the practice. Among the reviewed ones are unfounded claims such as increasing life span, health problems, failure to cleanse the liver, and stress to the person fasting. For whatever reason an individual fasts, it is important to verse with the risks fasting exposes with regard to human health. Prolonged fasting is detrimental; children and those who are unfit must be put away from the practice. Forcing children to engage in fasting is a form of child abuse. Overall, it is clear that fasting does not lead to healthy body but rather deteriorates even the present health thereby prompting discouragement of the practice. Knowledge about the implications of fasting will go a long way to enable people to make informed decisions about their fasting habits. This will certainly improve their health standards and improve their health awareness.
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