Although many people are now willing to learn and practice it (mainly because of the significant influence of celebrities), human beings have been fasting since time immemorial. Also, now more than ever, fasting doesn’t have a straightforward definition. It used to mean going without drinking or eating for some time (it still does). However, others have said fasting isn’t all about food and drinks; it can be anything. From forgoing watching your favorite sport to not playing video games or using social media, all that can be considered fasting. That said, this piece will focus majorly on food and drinks. Here are some interesting fasting facts you (probably) didn’t know.

1. Angus Barbieri Holds the Record for the Longest Fast (382 Days)

Angus Barbieri, a Scottish national, holds the record for the longest fast (382 days). He started his audacious journey in 1965 and finished it after a year and 17 days. Throughout this time, Angus Barbieri only drank soda, water, coffee, vitamins, and tea.

Before starting his fast, Angus weighed 456lbs, and by the time he completed it, he had lost 276lbs. Doctors were surprised that Angus Barbieri never got low blood sugar during his lengthy fast.

2. Linda Hazzard Killed More Than a Dozen People in the Early 1900s

Nicknamed the Starvation Doctor, Linda Hazzard was a fasting specialist who killed at least 15 people by encouraging them not to eat to be cured of diseases. Author of “Fasting for the Cure of Disease,” Linda coaxed her patients to fast for days, eating only small amounts.

Her approach led to the death of Daisey Maud Haglund, a pair of British sisters (Dorothea and Claire), and many others. She was arrested and charged with manslaughter in 1911.

3. Intermittent Fasting Can Increase Lifespan

A study by Havard University in 2017 shows that dietary restrictions can manipulate mitochondrial networks inside the cells, thus increasing lifespan and improving overall body health.

4. There is a Practice Known as Dopamine Fasting

There is an emerging trend known as dopamine fasting. It entails abstaining from over stimulating activities such as social media, gaming, or watching movies to reset the dopamine receptors in the brain. Very little research has been done on this concept. Some experts have even dismissed it as a form of fasting, claiming that dopamine fasting is more of cognitive behavioral therapy.

5. Data Shows that Muslim Babies Born 9 Months after Ramadan May Be Disabled

Using census data from Uganda, Muslim babies who are born nine months after Ramadan may have some form of disability during their adult lives. This is because as their mothers were fasting, they were denied essential nutrients needed for development.

6. The Saying “Do as Romans Do” was Based on Fasting

The phrase “do as Romans do” encourages visitors to embrace the customs of foreign places or people. However, do you know the context under which it was coined? Apparently, it was the answer given to Saint Augustine by Saint Ambrose when he was asked whether they should fast on Saturday like the Romans did.

7. Christian Bale Had to Fast to Achieve the Perfect Body for the Film “The Machinist”

Of all the actors in the 21st century, Christian Bale pulled off the craziest body transformation when preparing for the film “The Machinist.” The iconic English actor lost 25kgs (55lbs) in four months through fasting and intensive workouts.

8. German Monks in the 1700s Survived Only on Beer during their 40 Day Fasts  

German monks had the pope’s approval in the 1600s and 1700s to only drink beer during their 40-day lent fasts. During this time, only drinks were allowed as they didn’t have as much alcohol content as today, and it was packed with lots of nutrients.

9. Fasting Can Bring Feelings of Euphoria

Research has proven fasting can enhance emotional sensations such as euphoria. According to studies, fasting makes one feel physically light, which can bring “good” feelings.

10. Jains Practice Sallekhana (Death by Fasting)

In the Jain Religion practiced in India, there is a ritual known as Sallekhana, or death by fasting. Jains gradually reduce the amount of food and drinks they consume until they eventually die. The fasts are done facing North. Chandragupta Maurya, and Bhadrabahu are some of the people who died by Sallekhana.

11. People Also Fast to Raise Awareness about Various Societal Issues

Fasting is mostly done for religious and health purposes. However, it can also be used to raise awareness about various societal issues like poverty and climate change.

12. There Are Conflicting Reports on the Effects of Fasting on Women during Menstruation

There are conflicting opinions regarding the effects of fasting on a woman’s menstrual symptoms. In some women, it relieves menstrual symptoms such as indigestion, cramping, and bloating. However, it can also lead to weakness, dizziness and fatigue. Fasting during periods can also increase mood swings. Doctors recommend that women should avoid fasting during their periods. And if they must fast, they should do it for a shorter duration.

13. Fasting Promotes Weight Loss

Because fasting reduces the calories a person consumes, it directly promotes weight loss. Fasting for the whole day for three months can decrease body fat and weight by 10%.

14. There are Different Types of Fasts

Fasting comes in many types. The most common type involves restricting oneself from water and food for a certain duration. There’s water fasting, juice fasting, partial fasting, and calorie restriction. Of late, intermittent fasting has taken center stage in the health and wellness industry.

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Last Update: July 9, 2024