Water Fasting – Dangers and Side effects

Water fasting is a popular method of fasting. Water is the most basic form of intake for the body and often it could be quite a fatality for several people to perform such a task without proper research. However, like everything water fasting comes with its set of dangers and side effects.

Precautions before Water Fasting  

1. Water fasting without supervision is not advisable for people with diabetes, gout, and chronic kidney diseases as well as pregnant women, older adults, and children.

Water fasting for the first time does require some preparations by partial fasting or eating a lower amount of food. There are certain regulations to be taken care if one does go for a water-fast for two to three days.

2. Performing the fast longer than two days would require extreme medical supervision and is therefore, not advised.

3. Heavyweight exercises or activities must be avoided. Driving can be dangerous too.

4. In the three days after the fast, one should take care of not having a big meal.

Some people may experience re-feeding syndrome, which means that the body has to undergo huge changes in the level of electrolytes and fluid. This is quite damaging for the recovery process.

Having provided a basic summary of the process, one may look towards the various health risks involved if one decides to go for a water-fast as following.

Health risks involved in Water Fasting

1. Fatigue and lack of focus

Extreme calories reduction lead to dizziness, fatigue and brain fog which disrupt you to perform basic tasks and will put you in bed for water-fasting. There are several nutrient deficiencies and the reduction of bodily reactions, and water-fasting increases the rate of calorie burning along with taking important tissues and breaking cells.

Therefore, it becomes quite difficult for the body to perform normally. One may face some mild to severe headaches and the ability to focus on work or study reduces heavily.

2. Dehydration

One must note that the body on a general basis requires two to three litres of water on a daily basis for healthy orientation. In the case of water-fasting individual, the person is left deprived of several nutrients and fluids that control the fluid levels in the body which in turn control the hormonal balance among several other reactions inside the body.

Even if one is having water and avoids only food in a fast, the body doesn’t reach its fluid demands and symptoms of dehydration might show. These symptoms include dizziness, nausea, headaches, constipation, low blood pressure and overall lower productivity of the body. One should be careful of these symptoms and in the case of problems should abandon the idea of a water-fasting.

3. Losing the wrong weight

Several people perform water-fasts to reduce weight and often it works because it restricts the intake of calories. However, the losing weight instead of burning fat might come from the loss of water, carbs and reduction of muscle weight, which is actually a bad sign.

The fast doesn’t help in burning fat usually and this extreme state of bodily deprivation actually leads to loss of some important proteins which are required for energy for daily functioning of the body. Staying alive during a water-fast may imply your own body eating itself and the loss of the basic building blocks of the body.

In fact, extreme loss of these proteins and the breaking of tissues inside may lead to sudden deaths during water-fasting.

4. Orthostatic Hypotension

This is mainly dropping of blood pressure when one stands up and feels dizzy and nauseous. Low blood pressure may cause fainting. Water-fasting may cause orthostatic hypotension and one should be careful not perform heavy tasks or drive during this condition.

In fact, one should rather not try water-fasting having had a symptom like this which can make you feel like fainting.

5. Worsening Medical conditions

Despite the short span of water–fast, there are several symptoms of chronic or existing diseases which can be aggravated in this state of self-deprivation. In the case of certain medical conditions, one should actually steer away from self-exhausting commitment.

In the case of gout, water fasting can increase the production of uric-acid leading to increase in symptoms.

It is also risky for the patients of type 1 or 2 diabetes, increasing the adverse effects.

Patients of chronic kidney problems should also avoid water-fasting since in delicate conditions, the kidney needs more water to perform.

Fasting also trigger cases like heartburn caused due to production of extreme stomach acid and formation of gas when there is no digestible food.  In the case of some teenagers, water-fasting may lead to eating disorders like bulimia.

6. Binge Eating

Often it is noticed that fasting or dieting or any process of reducing calorie intake takes a toll on your mind. Rather than maintaining this state of restriction, people choose to eat more.

Some people tend to think more about food in this state of deprivation, so that once it is over. They end up eating more in quantity and frequency than they actually require even to fulfil the loss caused by the state of fasting.

While binge-eating obviously leads to cutting down any of the benefits induced by the process, it also leads to greater problems which are more difficult to deal with. It is one of the various eating disorders developed due to fasting.

7. Long-term bodily complications

Water-fasting, in several cases leads to severe nutrition deficiencies and if these nutrient gaps are not filled gradually in due time, some fatal problems may arise.

One may compromise their immune system and functioning of organs and increase the risk of harm to organs like liver and kidneys. Water-fasting is not advised in view of these rather extreme bodily problems which several chronic problems.

To fast or to not fast

Having gone through the several problems of water-fasting, one may make a conscious decision whether their body can actually handle such a sacrificial rite.

On the positive side, water-fasting is extremely beneficial if performed with the right intention and the right method. There are different types of fasting which can be recommended as per your body type. Other sustainable fasting techniques include intermittent fasting and alternate-day fasting.

These are more useful in terms of losing weight and helping to tackle diseases. These methods don’t cause a prolonged state of deprivation and actually develop a pattern for the body along which it can adapt to operate.

In case of fainting or any severe bodily dysfunction during fasting, one must visit the doctor and only under medical supervision, take the decision to continue the process. Water-fasting comes with several health risks and one must be sure about the problems while undertaking such a process.

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Shyamala Rajasekar

Foodaholic with an untrustworthy appetite. Meat lover. She cannot write bios.

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