Medical experts have advised Nigerians against prolonged or long fasting, saying it has negative implications for their health.
According to Dr Noel Dokun, a general medical practitioner, fasting in moderation is beneficial to health, but prolonged fasting is harmful to the body.
Dr Dokun, who is also the immediate past national president of the National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMDP) said, “Prolonged fasting is harmful to the body. The reason it is harmful is because, firstly, there are proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the body.
“So when we go into prolonged fasting, rather than the carbohydrate to be broken down like when you have short fasting, the body begins to mobilise other resources, that is the proteins and fats and begins to break them down into the various components and this makes the liver to overwork.
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“This deprives the brain of glucose, and at the end of it all the person engaged in the long fasting could go into a coma, experience a breakdown of the liver, or lose weight and become emaciated.”
The expert said there are other free radicals that are released by the body aside from the breakdown of the ketone bodies and lactic acid in the body, adding, “And all these will cause metabolic derangements that are very harmful to the body. So prolonged fasting is not recommended.”
Also, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said long fasting with little or no water causes kidney and liver problems, and also affects other organs of the body.
The director general of the agency, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said it is important for people to “fast with common sense.”
She said, “We are a very religious country. Muslims and Christians fast a lot and it is contributing to kidney problems in the country. Your body needs to have homeostasis balance, meaning that the water level in your body must be enough to make your organs to function.
“Some people will fast for 10 or 20 days and maybe drink only a little water. The kidney is being punished. Now, if you put chemicals in it, it triples in an exponential manner, it damages the kidney because the kidney doesn’t have water to dilute and filter.
“That is what all of us should know. I fast, but I fast with common sense. We have to fast with common sense, if not we will pay it with our kidney,” she added.
Gurama A. Gurama a pharmaceutical microbiologist and biotechnologist at the Gombe State University, Gombe State, said some health benefits have been associated with proper fasting or that done in moderation.
He said studies have also found that restricting food intake during the day can help prevent health problems such as high cholesterol, heart disease and obesity, as well as improve mental health and well-being.