Is liquid food healthy?

Diet - Radical fasting is of no use: not eating solid foods can be harmful

Radical fasting is of no use: not eating solid foods can be harmful

Many people nowadays do without sweets, their glass of red wine or eat vegetable shakes entirely. But how healthy is radical fasting really? Experts warn: not eating solid foods can be harmful.

Many people these days forego sweets, a glass of red wine or eat vegetable shakes entirely, because it is Lent. Fasting is said to have a number of positive effects. Among other things, it should help to get rid of winter fat or purify the body. But how healthy is radical fasting really for the body?

The practice of fasting has been around for centuries and is part of almost every culture. For Christians, fasting used to serve, among other things, to purify the soul, to repent or to exercise humility.

Today, however, these motives are mostly in the background. The motivation is weight loss, cleansing - purifying - the body, and for some maybe even doing without. There are different types of fasters. On the one hand, there are the moderate ones who do without a luxury product such as chocolate, alcohol or cigarettes. And on the other hand, there are the radical fasters who eat carrot, spinach, fennel or other vegetable juices for a certain period of time. Consuming only liquid food is arguably one of the most radical ways of fasting.

Just stress in the beginning

First of all: with the fasting cure alone you don't get a beach figure. It is likely that you will lose some weight while fasting. But those who fall back into old eating habits after the fasting period will quickly have their pounds back on their ribs, very probably even more than before. In general, experts disagree on the effect of fasting. Some scientists say it is good for health, others believe that it is more harmful.

When someone fasts, it only means stress for the body for the time being. Because he does not get any solid or very little food, hypoglycaemia sets in. This leads to the release of hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol and dopamine. Due to the lack of food, the body falls back on its own protein reserves, and that means muscle breakdown. This is not entirely uncritical: "It is not so problematic with young people, but muscle wasting in old age can be limiting," says Dr. Philipp Schütz, metabolism expert from Aarau Cantonal Hospital.

"This is pseudoscience"

By releasing hormones, fasting can have effects similar to those of an antidepressant. Depressive symptoms and anger are less perceived.

Missing coffee in the morning or not smoking a cigarette after eating can initially have negative effects such as headache or bad mood. However, these “withdrawal symptoms” usually only last about 24 to 26 hours.

Fasting is said to make people more resistant to psychological and physical stress. It has also been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on cardiovascular diseases. For example, a study in the US state of Utah found a significantly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in over 400 people who fasted if they fasted repeatedly. A promising effect was also found in the treatment of asthma. In people with rheumatoid arthritis, the pain subsided after a few days without solid food because they no longer ingested inflammatory fatty acids with the food. Schütz questions these findings: “This is pseudoscience. As far as I know, there is no scientific evidence to support these results. "

Eat healthier instead of fasting

Instead of fasting, it is better to consider a healthier diet. «Fasting is bad in principle. It is better if you eat a balanced, but lower-calorie diet. It's also more effective if you want to lose weight. " However, those who fast less radically, i.e. only temporarily avoid coffee, cigarettes or chocolate, will certainly not have any negative effects for them.

Steffi Schlüchter, nutritionist at the Swiss Nutrition Society, doesn't think much of eating only juices and soups. "Fasting is also fraught with risks: Avoiding solid food stresses the body and increases the risk of gallstones and gout attacks." However, if you still want to fast radically, you should do so in the company of a doctor.

Incidentally, anyone who fasts to purify their body can confidently stop. So-called slags, waste products of the metabolism, do not exist scientifically. Our body is caretaker enough and sees for itself that such substances are removed.