Why do people fast?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

In some religions and spiritualities, fasting is a way to cleanse and purify the body, and is considered an act of sacrifice. Fasting can also be used to lose weight in cases of morbid obesity. Some individuals use fasting as a means to detoxify their body. Other times, medical testing or surgery may be necessitate a period of fasting before the procedure.

Marisa Moore
Nutrition & Dietetics

People fast for a variety of reasons including

  • Religious or spiritual obligation.  Some people fast as part of their religion to strengthen their faith, increase patience and humility.  
  • Mental clarity. Some people find that when they fast they are able to think more clearly and become more disciplined. 
  • To cleanse the body. Some people use fasting as a way to "detoxify" the body. They may eliminate some or all food types in an attempt to cleanse the body. 
  • For a medical procedure. To get accurate lab results or to prepare the body for certain surgical procedures, it may be necessary to abstain from food, caffeine and other substances. 

It's important to note that not all of the reasons or ways that people fast are based on science. It is a personal choice.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.