Page 40 - April 2021
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         India’s Ancient Wisdom Repackaged for Modern Times
The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine recognised immense health benefits of fasting or upavas, a practise observed by Hindus since time immemorial
Upavas or fasting along with yoga and meditation have central position in the Hindu way of life. This helps in rejuvenation and fight against diseases by strengthening im- munity. This Indian knowledge system has received respect from the West when scientific research coined the term ‘inter- mittent fasting’ for which the Japanese
cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2016.
Ohsumi’s work elucidated the meth- od by which cells recycle and renew their content though a process called autoph- agy. His main finding was that during fasting, autophagy is activated, which helps in slowing down the aging process, has a positive impact on cell renewal, improves body immunity, and even helps in weight loss.
Most of the religions in the world follow fasting of different styles. For ex- ample, Muslims and Christians follow fasting for one month during one year. However, in Hinduism, there are dif- ferent types of fasting in a week, such as fasting on Mondays by women, fast-
ing on Thursdays, Saturdays, on full moon days, etc, as prayer to particular gods, in which regular meals are taken only once a day except a few snacks in between, and avoiding food at night. The duration of fasting varies from 12-20 hours, depending on the days’ importance.
Ohsumi termed the observance of fasting as intermittent fasting. He discov- ered that degraded parts of cells are re- cycled and cell contents renewed through a process called autophagy.
Hindus have been observing fasting, or upavas, from time immemorial as a sacred religious practice, formulated by insights of spiritual leaders and rishis of India. Such practices have attained
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