People engage in fasting for various reasons; to lose weight, decrease the rate of aging, improve brain functions, follow health instructions, etc. Yes, indeed, several pieces of evidence attest to the fact that fasting is beneficial for our health.
There are several forms of fasting, with every type having its peculiar guidelines. The question about drinking water while fasting is not one that can be answered directly.
Water is an absolute necessity for normal metabolic and physiological body functions. But, when it comes to fasting, drinking water is allowed for some kinds of fasts, and not advised in others.
To find out all you need to know about water and fasting, sit back and stay glued to this article, till the very end.
Fasting is the voluntary abstinence from certain or all foods, water or both for a period of time. This is done following a doctor’s recommendation or for other purposes.
There are various types of fasting, ranging from dirty fasting to water fasting, and each type has its unique guidelines and benefits.
The beautiful thing about fasting is that if the physician’s guidelines are carefully followed, then the expected results are mostly seen.
As stated earlier, drinking water while fasting depends on the type of fast, and also, the reason for fasting.
Let’s have a look at some types of fasts.
- Dry fasting.
This type of fasting involves total abstinence from all forms of food and drinks, including water. It is mostly engaged in for religious purposes.
It is important that one is certified healthy to engage in such a fast by a health practitioner first, because dry fasting can lead to dehydration and other health complications.
Thus, this kind is only done for a limited period of time.
Dry fasting can also be done as a separate kind of fast, or during intermittent fasting. When it is incorporated into intermittent fasting, all forms of food and drinks including water are shunned during the fasting periods.
- Intermittent fasting.
As the name implies, intermittent fasting is a type of fast that involves skipping meals for a number of hours, and at most two days at a stretch. In the remaining hours or days, one is free to eat.
There are different types of intermittent fasting; the 16:8 method, the 5:2 method, the whole day fasting method, the eat-stop-eat method, the alternate day fasting, the 10:8 method, etc.
The major aim or reason for engaging in this type of fast is to lose weight. Another reason is to prevent diabetes. During the hours of fasting, the body is deprived of glucose, and thus provides energy via gluconeogenesis. This is the basic mechanism by which intermittent fasting works.
Since water imparts no form of glucose to the body, one can drink water while on this type of fast.
- Fasting prior to surgery or other medical procedures.
Physicians usually advise patients to avoid meals and drinks from about 8 to 12 hours before surgery or any other medical procedure involving anesthesia.
During general anesthesia, the patient is unable to carry out even reflex actions. So, the presence of food or drinks in the gastrointestinal tractor (GIT) can easily cause aspiration and vomiting.
Staying off food for that period of time is so important that a surgery can be postponed if a patient fumbles.
However, in some procedures, the physicians can allow the intake of water, but only until about 2 hours prior to the surgery. This is because water is quickly digested and will pose no problem by the time of surgery.
For children especially, drinking water 1 to 2 hours before surgery helps to improve overall physiological and metabolic state, making them more compliant.
In essence, this is another type of fasting where drinking water may not be allowed.
- Fasting prior to certain fasting blood tests.
Some categories of blood tests require the patient to have empty stomachs before samples can be taken, for the purpose of accuracy. These tests are usually done early in the morning, from about 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM, and require patients to have an overnight 8 to 10 or 8 to 12 hours fast.
- Fasting blood sugar test.
- Liver function tests.
- Renal function panel.
- Vitamin B complex test.
- Cholesterol test.
- Basic metabolic panel.
- Triglycerides measurement test.
- Serum tests.
- Lipoprotein panel, etc.
For these types of blood tests, drinking water while fasting is generally allowed, except the doctor advises otherwise.
- Water fasting.
From the name, it looks like this type of fast prohibits water intake, but the reverse is the case. Water fasting is rather, a type of fast where one is not allowed to take anything else apart from water. It is usually done from 24 to 72 hours at most.
The major reason people engage in this type of fast is to promote health and prevent certain diseases. Although it has been shown to promote autophagy and to some extent, prevent the risk of heart diseases, it is, however, inadvisable to engage in such without the doctor’s consent.
Water is life, goes the usual saying, and this is true because the benefits of water to the body system are enormous. Little wonder the question about drinking water while fasting is in the hearts of many.
As we have seen thus far, drinking water while fasting depends on the reason for fasting in the first place and the type of fast engaged in.
Drinking water is not allowed in dry fasting, and fasting prior to some medical procedures like surgeries. However, it is permitted in intermittent fasting, fasting before certain blood tests and water fasting.
Another point worthy of note is that, during some fasts, certain drinks other than water can also be taken.
Before undergoing any type of fasting, it is very important to have the doctor’s backing and also to follow their instructions in the course of the fast.