Nature’s Presence

Nature Presence
 
A Historical Perspective On Fasting
 
 
By MARCIE MARTINEZ
Valley Daily Post
Many people today believe our bodies “need” food every two to four hours for proper health and weight management. I might have been one of those people at one time…had I ever put much thought into it.
In truth, this is something I never really pondered one way or the other, likely because food was always available to me.
Even as a child growing up in Chimayo, I had no idea if my parents were rich or poor because I always had food to eat. Thankfully I never had to suffer in this area.
This is the case for most Americans. While there certainly are groups of people who have struggled greatly just to put food on the table, our welfare system has largely curbed that suffering and the majority of the population has actually thrived in having access to food.
It is likely this is the reason most people believe they could never handle going even a few hours without food, let alone a whole day.
In my view this is one of the many unfortunate results of our     spoiled generation.
As I previously mentioned, fasting has been used throughout history as a tool for not only health but also spiritual enhancement and awakening and brain focus and clarity. It is well known that the energy expended in digesting a meal is great, which, as previously stated, is the cause of the “food coma” after the Thanksgiving meal.
Scientists and doctors have studied groups of people, mainly from other countries, who practice caloric restriction on a regular basis. They have discovered some remarkable things.
For one, caloric restriction not only helps in terms of weight management, it has also been shown to increase a person’s life expectancy by several years. As it is, being at an optimal weight relieves the entire body.
Being overweight is extremely taxing on the body, causing an increase in blood pressure – a huge health risk on its own, and of course wreaking havoc on the joints and making a person more susceptible to injury. In terms of our own history even just a few generations ago, likely just two or three, our ancestors regularly fasted out of necessity and lack of abundance as we have today.
Back in the day people had root cellars or “soteranos,” as my family called it, where they stored their summer and fall harvests to last through the winter.
These days we don’t have such things likely because we seemingly don’t need them, as there is a grocery store on every corner.
Indeed, most people shop for food on a weekly basis and many people even shop on a daily basis.
Despite the fact those of our ancestors who actually had land to grow and harvest food and a place to build a soterano to store  food throughout the year, they still understood the concept of rationing.
Where they would celebrate occasions with feasts, they understood that not everyday was a feast day.
They worked hard and ate only what was necessary. There were also times when they went without. This was the case of our older ancestors and even tribes and clans of people today in other countries who do not have land and thus must hunt and gather their food.
They were unable to preserve the food they found and therefore feasted when it was available and fasted when it was not. This kept them healthy and fit to continue the cycle.
Our bodies use two forms of energy: glucose and fat. When we are in a constant feasting state the body expends the glucose and stores excess fat for times of fasting. If we never fast, the body function is never triggered to use the fat as energy.
This indeed is a survival mechanism for which our wise bodies were designed.
If we never use this function it is entirely possible that over time our body will have forgotten how to use it and it will take longer to train the body to do so. A point to ponder.

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