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By Mayukh Saha,
Controlled fasting is considered by some as a safer and effective substitute for many medicines. It is believed to be a cure for a host of ailments as it negates the ill effects of our constant obsession with eating unhealthy foods. Will Smith was on a downward spiral as he went on vodka and high-carbs induced binge-diet. His family member disparagingly began referring to him as “pudge muffin.” He decided to tackle his problems head-on and even got his family together for an unscripted meeting to discuss his weight issues.
The 50-year-old actor decided to try out a systematic plan of fasting for 10 days after he reached an imposing 225 pounds (over 102 kilograms).
Talking on Facebook in, “Red Table Talks,” he revealed that during a recent family vacation he went a bit crazy and started having 4 to 5 muffins for breakfast. Back from his vacation, the star of “Gemini Man” went on his 10 days fast.
Will Smith believes that his controlled and methodical fasting routine lowered his pressure sufficiently for him to even give up on his BP medicine, something he had never done in his 10 years of medication.
A cardiologist had mixed feelings about the efficacy of fasting. He said while maintaining blood pressure is a prerequisite for good health and longer life span, fasting is not always the ideal solution. Instead, he recommended a balanced lifestyle, taking in all factors that affect our health.
Will smith’s fasting routine was unclear as he didn’t elaborate much. But it can mean anything from skipping certain meals, a liquid-only diet, or complete fasting without water and food. Four days into his regime the actor noticed a considerable fall in blood pressure. It was significant enough to encourage Will Smith to give up his medication, something he has never done in a decade.
Fasting does lower pressure but it is not the sole indicator of the heart’s health. BP indicates the pressure required to pump blood throughout the body. It indicates how elastic is the circulatory system -the veins, arteries, etc. Stiffness or blockage in the vessels makes the heart work harder says Dr. Joshua Yamamoto, medical director at Foxhall Foundation and a cardiologist.
Blood pressure isn’t a disease but indicates how well the circulatory system that transmits blood through your body is working. But high pressure puts an additional strain on your heart muscle and that can be the cause of irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia), clotting, heart failure and can eventually lead to a stroke.
While fasting does lower blood pressure, so does dehydration and starvation, neither of which is healthy for the body. Dr.Yamamoto says the blood pressure should consider the overall health of the patient.
What actually contributes to a healthy heart and normal blood pressure is a healthy diet comprising fresh fruits and vegetables, sufficient exercise, a stress-free life, low consumption of alcohol and no tobacco products.
The influence of fasting on health is still not totally clear to medical science but any fasting schedule should be monitored. There is sufficient evidence that certain types of fasting can help to reduce the chances of chronic health issues like heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes.
Fasting can also mean limiting fasting at set intervals and in measured quantities. 8:16 fasting is one popular variant where you are supposed to eat all your meals within eight hours in a day and fast for the other 16.
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There are other benefits of fasting. Dr. Miriam Merad, director of the Precision Immunology Institute at Mt. Sinai Scholl of Medicine mentioned that fasting reduces inflammation. Dr. Merad believes that eating twice a day should suffice and be quite beneficial to our health.
Fasting for long can even destroy the immune system. Lack of food can make us too weak and so vulnerable to infection. The difference between fasting and starvation should be understood. Any form of fasting should be monitored by an expert; a doctor or a dietician. And people with certain conditions like eating disorders, mental problems, and pregnant women should not fast.
More research is definitely needed on fasting before we can arrive at a proper conclusion on the effect of fasting in the long haul.
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Fortunately, the Swiss National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics (NEK, President: Otfried Höffe) critically commented on the use of the ADHD drug Ritalin in its opinion of 22 November 2011 titled Human enhancement by means of pharmacological agents: The consumption of pharmacological agents altered the child’s behavior without any contribution on his or her part.
That amounted to interference in the child’s freedom and personal rights, because pharmacological agents induced behavioral changes but failed to educate the child on how to achieve these behavioral changes independently.
The child was thus deprived of an essential learning experience to act autonomously and emphatically which “considerably curtails children’s freedom and impairs their personality development”, the NEK criticized.
The alarmed critics of the Ritalin disaster are now getting support from an entirely different side. The German weekly Der Spiegel quoted in its cover story on 2 February 2012 the US American psychiatrist Leon Eisenberg, born in 1922 as the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, who was the “scientific father of ADHD” and who said at the age of 87, seven months before his death in his last interview: “ADHD is a prime example of a fictitious disease”.