Researches support and confirm that certain diets could offer genuine health benefits. As we celebrate the start of Lent, let us look at the health benefits that comes with the different practices we have in observing Lenten traditions.
The practice of refraining or limiting the consumption of food or drink for a period of time is observed during Lenten season. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting, but unknown to many, the digestion process has its disadvantages for the human health. According to the Harvard Medical School, the practice of fasting provides our body a rest from taking in toxins found in food and helps in significant weight loss if practiced properly.
Fasting has two common types. Regular, also called full fast, wherein only liquids are consumed, and partial fast, wherein consumption of solids is limited. The norm during this season is the partial fasting wherein an individual decreases food intake by eating one full meal or two smaller meals that are not equal to a full meal in a day.
A word of caution from doctors, if you consider fasting this Lent, make sure that you have no preexisting conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure, as fasting causes electrolyte abnormalities.
Abstinence from meat
Abstinence from eating meat such as beef, pork, and chicken is observed during Fridays and Saturdays of Lent. Instead, fish and vegetables are chosen as substitutes. Fish such as salmon and tuna, is a good source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids that promote heart health.
Research proves that eating 1-2 servings of fish per week could help cut the risk of dying from heart diseases by 36%. By cutting down the consumption of red meat and processed meat, the risk of taking in less-beneficial fats and high sodium meat is also lessened.
Another popular substitute for meat is egg. An egg contains vitamins A, B, and D and a little saturated fat, which is about 1.5 grams . Nutrients found in the egg such as lutein is good for the eyes and choline good for the brain and nerve health.
According to Harvard Medical school, consuming an egg a day is safe for people without preexisting conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. When eating scrambled eggs or omelets, opt for healthier choices to add to your eggs such as spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Always remember that the saturated fat in butter, cheese, bacon, sausage, and bread could raise your blood cholesterol much more than the cholesterol present in your eggs.
Other protein sources, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds could lack one or more fatty acids, so maintaining a proper balance and variety of alternative sources of protein is recommended.
Lenten season is not only a perfect time to take care of our spiritual health, this is also a perfect opportunity to focus on our physical health. With a positive attitude towards sacrifice and devotion, a healthier body and healthier relationship with the Almighty is within reach.
Written by Reuben Andrew R. Razal