By Dr. Vasant Lad

 

When should one consider fasting and what kind of fast should one do?  Generally, Ayurveda does not recommend an absolute fast, but prefers a mono diet of a single, easily digested food.  Such a simple diet provides bulk and nutrition, while resting the digestive system and gently detoxifying the body.  Fruit is one option and kitchari( mung beans and basmatic rice) is another.  A “fast” that involves eating easily digested vegetables that pacify the three doshas is also recommended.

One should fast just enough to kindle agni (digestive fire), burn ama (toxins), and cleanse the srotras (bodily channels).  In the United States, people fast on water for a week or more.  However, this is injurious to the health and is not recommended.  Remember that real spiritual fasting is deep meditation- it is not starvation.

Prolonged fasting is only good for kapha individuals.  A vata person should not fast longer than two days or vata dosha will be aggravated.  Pittas cannot fast for longer than 4 days.  Most kapha types can fast for to five days without ill effects.

One option for reasonably healthy people is to undertake a juice fast every few months, to rest the digestive system.  Alternatively, undertaking a juice fast for one day a week can also detoxify the system and increase the digestive fire.  Vata people may use mango, grape, or sweet orange juice: pitta types can use pomegranate, sweet grape, or sweet cranberry juice: and kapha people can use apple, grape, or pineapple juice,