Contributed by: Priyaish Srivastava
Navratri is a nine day festival and the start of the festival season in India. During this time, people show their devotion by fasting and worshiping all nine forms of the goddess Durga for nine days.
Fasting for nine days helps detoxify the body. The length of fasting varies from person to person as some people fast every nine days while others fast only on the first and last day.
This nine-day fast is extremely beneficial because the foods allowed during the fast are light, easily digested, and very nutritious. If the rules of fasting are followed properly, it can even help shed extra pounds and revitalize the system.
This article will tell you what to eat and avoid while fasting and the risks associated with fasting.
The basic concept of fasting is to eat less and eat right. However, some people revere and defeat the basic idea of fasting. Based on some research studies, here is a quick rundown of the benefits of fasting when done right.
- Improves heart functions
- Helps regulate and maintain healthy blood pressure
- Helps in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels
- Helps in the treatment and prevention of thyroid disease
- Maintains a healthy body weight
- Reduces the production of inflammatory substances
- Maintains healthy blood sugar levels and treats diabetes
- Reduces high blood pressure
- Improves digestion
- Strengthens immunity
Diet tips when fasting
Avoid regular flours and grains
People shouldn’t eat common grains like wheat and rice while fasting. Some healthy alternatives to these grains are:
- Buckwheat flour (Kuttu ka atta): It is high in fiber and increases the rate of metabolism. Eating buckwheat flour has several other benefits, such as maintaining a healthy weight, promoting bowel health, improving bone strength, and improving hair and skin health. People who suffer from diabetes can include buckwheat flour in their regular eating habits as it helps maintain healthy insulin levels.
- Water chestnut flour (Singhara ka atta): It is rich in nutrients such as protein, fiber, manganese, potassium, vitamin B6, copper, iron, calcium and zinc. Thus, consuming water chestnut flour helps maintain a healthy weight, strengthens immunity, nourishes the body, and keeps you energized for a long time.
- Amaranth flour (Rajgira aata): Amaranth flour is a great source of nutrients like protein, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, folic acid, and selenium. Eating amaranth flour offers several health benefits including weight loss, protection from cancer, fights inflammation, promotes bone health, builds muscle strength, improves digestion and Heart health.
- Chicken millet (Samak ke chawal): Millet is a great source of easily digestible protein and contains fewer calories than regular white rice. It’s high in fiber, iron, gluten-free, and has a low glycemic index, which makes it good for people with diabetes.
Eat more fruits
Fruits come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are rich in numerous nutrients. All kinds of fruits and nuts can be consumed during the fast, however Fruits of the season are more beneficial than non-seasonal ones.
Vegetables that can be eaten during the Navratri fast are potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, arbi, raw banana, raw papaya, bottle gourd (lauki), tomatoes, ginger, lemon, elephant yam (suran), cucumber and carrots. This vegetable is rich in numerous vitamins and minerals and promotes general well-being. Vegetables to avoid during Navratri include onion, garlic, leek (green onion), and mushrooms.
Milk & dairy products
People who fast can also consume dairy products such as milk, paneer, white butter, clarified butter (ghee), khoya, yogurt, and buttermilk. Dairy products are rich in nutrients like calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein and help build and maintain strong bones.
Salt & spices
Table salt (white salt) is prohibited during the Navratri. An alternative to table salt that can be consumed during fasting is rock salt (Sendha Namak). Some other spices such as cumin, ajwain, cinnamon, green cardamom, cloves, black pepper, red chili powder, and dry pomegranate seeds can also be consumed during the Navratri fast.
Fasting has several general well-being benefits, however there are several risk factors associated with fasting, including:
- Diabetes patients who take insulin may have severely low blood sugar levels
- Some people fast without water, which can lead to complications such as severe dehydration, exhaustion, electrolyte imbalance, heat stroke, headache, etc. Kidney disease
- Fasting can also trigger migraines
Navratri is an auspicious occasion that is celebrated with great joy across the country. Most of the people who celebrate the occasion show their devotion by staying quick and worshiping the goddess Durga. The above foods that people typically eat while fasting offer several health benefits such as boosting immunity and detoxification.
But fasting can be quite harmful for people with existing health complications like type 2 diabetes. If you have health complications, we therefore recommend that you consult your doctor before fasting in order to avoid further health complications. In addition, regular preventive examinations give you a comprehensive insight into your general well-being and can thus take preventive measures for a healthy and fulfilling life.
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