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Is fasting harmful?

20 March 2009 / 17:03:28  GRReporter
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Even ancient Greeks, Egyptians and other religious nations were fasting on some set days throughout the year, in order to receive the blessing from their God – for example, before a battle.

In Christianity, fasting is practiced systematically, because believers need to celebrate big holidays as purified and as healthier as they can be. This is why they fast the days before. According to the church, fasting helps for the health of the body – purifying from toxins through a vegetable diet. But according to religious beliefs if fasting is combined with a prayer, abstention, repentance, and self-awareness, then this helps for purifying the humans’ soul.

According to data from the European program for cooperation between medicine and the public, 60% of old Greek women and men fast but most of the ones who fast are women. Of course, fasting differ in duration and strictness.

Father Folothei Faros, a famous writer of theological books clarifies that fasting means that the consumption of some foods should stop and their quantity of course. The idea is to consume fewer types of foods and smaller quantities.

“Most people believe that fasting means to limit consumption of one certain type of food but to consume the vegetarian foods in unlimited quantities. This is shallow and wrong understanding of the fasting. The evil happens firstly in the man’s heart and after that it shows in his behavior. This is why in order to fight the evil we need to start from the inner world of the human.” To the question, whether Greeks fast, Father Filotei answered: “I have the feeling that most Christians do not fast. Our culture cannot accept that some human needs will not be satisfied. The contemporary man’s understanding of the world, focuses on satisfying every need.” In his interview for “Etnos” newspaper, Father Filotei says that “This way of life has started 50 years ago as a new way of thinking but today, this is how children are brought up too. A person who cannot say “no” to himself cannot easily say “yes” to someone else’s needs and this is how he cannot have fulfilling relationships.”

Scientists Stefanos Karayanopoulos and Manolis Manolarakis believe otherwise. Mr. Karayanopoulos is director of the prophylactic medicine Department of the Red Cross. He believes that is we fast, we gain weight. “If we take into consideration the food habit of most people in current times, fasting makes us fat! All people with normal metabolism gain weight when they start fasting. Fasting does not mean not to take in any calories. Usually the fasting menu includes foods like potatoes, pasta, rice, halva, sweets and pretzels. These foods do not have proteins and do not sate the hunger. These are foods, which provoke appetite and can raise the insulin, which is necessary for digesting starch.”

Mr. Karayanopoulos supports the systematic consumption of meat, because it gives all necessary substances to the human body. On the other hand, dietitian Manolis Manolarakis believes that people are trying to get in touch with something supernatural through fasting and also that people believe that their organism gets clean from toxins from fasting.

Dr. Manolarakis has a better offer: “If you want to clean your body from toxins, then do not eat French fries, pasta with a lot of sauce and oil.” Fasting is a matter of personal opinion but whoever decides to do it needs to be careful. We should not forget that the church excludes the “sick” ones from fasting and if we fast that doesn’t mean our bodies get cleaned up from toxins.

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