Saturday, 1 September 2012

Fasting Experiments: Eat, Fast and Live Longer. Alternate Day Fasting and the 5:2 diet. Appetite Suppressant pill. Religion and Fasting. Hunger Strikes: Bobby Sands and Nelson Mandela. Forest Mere Spa, Hampshire.

Fasting has been in the news recently, after a BBC Horizon TV programme Eat. Fast and Live Longer, during which two methods were tried by presenter Michael Moseley: Alternate Day Fasting - ADF - and the 5:2 diet. Both involved only 500-600 calories on days of fasting, either every other day or for two days out of five.

Moseley found the latter the easiest, and lost a stone in five weeks with it - “during which time I lost nearly a stone and my blood markers, like IGF-1, glucose and cholesterol, improved. If I can sustain that, it will greatly reduce my risk of contracting age-related diseases like cancer and diabetes.”

 A new pill to stave off hunger has had successful trials but we may have to wait five years for it. It is called OAP-189  and has been developed by Professor Stephen Bloom at Imperial College London. Canny Pfizer, which markets Viagra, is still in the early stages of its development. 

Fasting of whatever kind is generally accepted as being good for the body and mind. It has long been practiced in many religions. A true fast means giving up food and drink. Moses in the Mount survived forty days and forty nights: “I did neither eat bread nor drink water”. Deuteronomy  9:7–21. Jesus too fasted for the same length of time in the wilderness. Matthew :2

Therapeutic fasting has beneficial effects on the mobility of sufferers from rheumatism and similar conditions, and the Buchinger Clinic in south Germany is known for good results.  Therapeutic fasting is good for almost everyone bar expectant mothers and careful monitoring by doctors is always carried out during the fast.
Falls Rd, Belfast. Iconic mural of Bobby Sands
Hunger strikes are another way of fasting, sometimes to death, as in the case of prisoners Bobby Sands and nine others while refusing food in 1981 in order to better conditions in the Maze Prison, Northern Ireland. Conditions were indeed dreadful there according to many outside witnesses.

A political prisoner but without political status, IRA Republican Bobby Sands lasted for sixty-six days before he died in the Maze Prison Hospital, during the Troubles. “I shall not settle until I achieve liberation of my country, until Ireland becomes a sovereign, independent socialist republic”.

Maze Prison, Long Kesh, N. Ireland
After his death, there was a global reaction, and protest marches were held against the British government. Interestingly, Nelson Mandela was inspired by Sands to lead a hunger strike on Robben Island, also to improve prison conditions.
Swimming Pool, Forest Mere

In 2002 Rambulation went to a health spa with daughter  Dominie to Forest Mere, Hampshire, in the full and happy expectation of being starved and losing weight over a four-day-long weekend. The programme of things to do was encouraging, with fitness classes, line dancing, swimming, cycling, pampering facials, massages etc. A brand-new, luxurious fluffy Persil-white robe added  to  the feeling of well-being,  and  everyone  wore them like a kind of uniform. The pool and aqua programmes were terrific, and so were the various exercises.

However, all the exertion from the physical jerks came to naught.  
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on one’s point of view, this wonderful spa was franchised to Gary Rhodes at the time. The food could not have been more delicious or more plentiful, and it would have been a crime not to have eaten everything on offer.
Now power walking, boot camp, a vibro-gym, Nordic walking and many more activities have been added. Gary must have gone, as customer complaints about the food can be seen on the website. Presumably people are losing weight.