How Do You Break a Fast?

MANY OF us know the images of the Allied forces liberating prisoners from concentration camps in 1945. We are also no strangers to images of malnourished children in many African countries. The urge to feed and nourish a starving person is instinctive, yet there can be severe consequences when this is done too hastily.

There is a potentially fatal condition called refeeding syndrome, where sudden changes in body chemistry can trigger various causes of death. Basically, in response to starvation your body adapts by making changes to it’s chemistry in order to survive. When you start eating again, a wave of fluid and electrolyte shifts take place, increased insulin production being one of them. So it’s not that you can no longer digest food, but that your body needs time to readjust.

With the promise of a gradual easing of lockdown in many countries around the world, including here in South Africa, the question in my mind becomes “how do you break a fast?”

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