We Indians are prescribed to fast periodically. Although our dharma prescribes it, we mock it and ignore.
Take for example:
Ekadashi fast – must for all married couple.
Chauth – must for all married couple
And now we have evidence which suggests that periodic fasting helps reprogram pancreatic cells! And restores insulin production!
First, let us understand Ekadashi in shashtric perspective:
As far as fasting is concern, Ekadasi is most important tithi of the Hindu Calendar. A voluminous literature has grown around Ekadasi fasting in Puranas. Even there are separate treatises on Ekadasi by Sanskrit scholars. For example: Ekadasi Viveka of Sulapani and Ekadasitattva of Raghunandan. 100s of pages in Sanskrit literature are dedicated to Ekadasi.
In some Purana, complete Upavasa is prescribes, whereas at some other places Vrata is prescribed (controlled planned dedicated diet).
Naradiya Purana states: “All sins whatever and sins equal to brahman-murder take resort to food on the day of Hari (Ekadasi). One who partakes food on Ekadasi incurs those sins. Purana again and again loudly proclaim:
“One should not eat food, one should not eat food, when the day of Hari Comes”
Matsya Purana says:
“When a Man fasts on the 11th and partakes of food on the 12th, whether in bright or dark half, that is a great Vrata in honor of Visnu.”
“Men who are devoted to Visnu and who look upon Visnu as their highest goal should always fast on ekadasi in each paksha(fortnight).
Who is Visnu? He is sustainer. The elemental fire of the universe (MAcro world) and the body (micro world) that sustains our existence. Ever 11 days, body needs to regenerate self. जठराग्नि needs rest and restore.
Such is the importance of Ekadasi fasting! I am planning entire series on Ekadasi as I understand and experiment.
Now, let us see what modern research suggest:
Fasting-mimicking diet may reverse diabetes
Periodic cycles of fasting reprogram pancreatic cells and restore insulin production, USC researchers find
A diet designed to imitate the effects of fasting appears to reverse diabetes, a new USC-led study shows.
The fasting-like diet promotes the growth of new insulin-producing pancreatic cells that reduce symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in mice, according to the study on mice and human cells led by Valter Longo, director of the Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.
“Cycling a fasting-mimicking diet and a normal diet essentially reprogrammed non-insulin-producing cells into insulin-producing cells,” said Longo, a professor of biological sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
By activating the regeneration of pancreatic cells, the researchers were able to rescue mice from late-stage Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. They also reactivated insulin production in human pancreatic cells from Type 1 diabetes patients.
The reprogrammed adult cells and organs prompted a regeneration in which damaged cells were replaced with new functional ones, Longo said.
The study published on Feb. 23 in the journal Cell is the latest in a series of studies to demonstrate promising health benefits of a brief, periodic diet that mimics the effects of a water-only fast.
Reversing insulin resistance and depletion
In Type 1 and late-stage Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas loses insulin-producing beta cells, increasing instability in blood sugar levels. The researchers simulated Type 1 diabetes in mice by administering high doses of the drug streptozotocin— killing the insulin-producing b-cells — and studied mice with Type 2 diabetes, characterized by insulin resistance and eventual loss of insulin production, which have a mutation in the gene Lepr.
The study showed a remarkable reversal of both types of diabetes in mice placed on the fasting-mimicking diet for four days each week. They regained healthy insulin production, reduced insulin resistance and demonstrated more stable levels of blood glucose. This was the case even for mice in the later stages of the disease.
The diet cycles switched on genes in the adult mice that are normally active only in the developing pancreases of fetal mice. The genes set off production of a protein, neurogenin-3 (Ngn3), thus generating new, healthy insulin-producing beta cells.