The virtues of fasting are extolled in all the major religions, and can even improve life expectancy, according to a report published in Nature last year that showed how, in mice, occasional fasting switches on a gene that delays ageing. But fasting can be spiritual too, as it is a sacrifice – the relinquishing of something you want on the altar of something higher, which means it’s not the same as dieting, nor is it advised for anyone whose relationship with food is complicated, medically speaking. (If in doubt, consult your doctor or dietician.)

Fasting is a powerful practice because it engages ...


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