The most vehement objections to fasting are made by those who have never missed a meal in their lives.
– Dr. Herbert Shelton (1895-1985)
In the past couple of days I’ve been reading up about fasting, specifically water fasting, with much interest. I intend to try a water fasting experiment myself starting February 26 (Sunday) until March 3 (Saturday). I’ve just recently finished my 7-day David Prayer and Water Fasting. This fasting allows a person to eat only one meal a day composed of fruits and vegetables, but you could drink all the water you want. And you pray for strength. In my case, I’m not the one who prays to talk to God, my religion has always been centered on the idea of “being good to others”. So, whenever I pray, I talk to the Being, I meditate and I reflect on the things happening to me and the actions I’ve done in my life. I also included tea on my fasting because I have had problems with my digestion and elimination so I have to drink herbal tea every night to eliminate all the waste from my body the following morning.
Fasting is very much like being a vegan. Earlier this year, I’ve quit on eating meat. There may be occasional cravings sometimes but whenever I think of the purpose, everything just becomes easier to avoid. I have done 1-day water fasts several times. There is growing evidence for the health/life extension aspects of fasting. What bothers me though are the repercussions on muscle mass from fasting.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is a period of abstinence from all food or specific items. In water fasting, you don’t get to eat but you are free to drink as much water as you want. A popular form of fasting is juice fasting, where you consume nothing but juices (greens or fruit juice).
Fasting shouldn’t be confused with starving, where one suffers from severe lack of nutrition, vitamins and minerals. During fasting, your body burns your fat reserves (adipose) for energy. The person does not suffer any deficiency of protein, vitamins, minerals or fatty acids. Starving happens when a body has no reserve fat fuels to burn (happens for anyone with body fat from 7%-10%) and starts eating into its own muscles and organs for energy instead.
Fluids are consumed in sufficient quantity to satisfy thirst and physiologic requirements. During the absence of food, the body will systematically cleanse itself of everything except vital tissue. Starvation will occur only when the body is forced to use vital tissue to survive. Although protein is being used by the body during the fast, a person fasting even 40 days on water will not suffer a deficiency of protein, vitamins, minerals or fatty acids. In the breakdown of unhealthy cells, all essential substances are used and conserved in a most extraordinary manner. There is an unwarranted fear of fasting that strength diminishes from the catabolism of proteins from muscle fibers. Even during long fasts, the number of muscle fibers remains the same. Although the healthy cells may be reduced in size and strength for a time, they remain perfectly sound.
A. J. Carlson, Professor of Physiology, University of Chicago, states that a healthy, well-nourished man can live from 50 to 75 days without food, provided he is not exposed to harsh elements or emotional stress. Human fat is valued at 3,500 calories per pound. Each extra pound of fat will supply enough calories for one day of hard physical labor. Ten pounds of fat are equal to 35,000 calories! Most of us have sufficient reserves, capable of sustaining us for many weeks.
Rest is understood to be a big factor in enhancing recovery, as it is when the body is at rest that it is able to direct the most energy towards the various chemical and mechanical processes of detoxification. When fasting, a person experiences recovery at a rate that is swifter than normal. He is ridding his body of toxins and excesses; allowing the body to use its own wisdom to healthfully reorganize itself from the atomic level. As the toxic load is reduced, the functioning of every cell is enhanced. In the same way that vital nerve energy is accumulated during a night’s sleep, the faster builds nerve energy through rest, sleep, and detoxification.
The human body has many ordinary modes of achieving elimination: the liver, lungs, kidneys, colon, etc. When these are overloaded, the body will resort to “extra ordinary” methods of elimination: boils, mucous and other discharges, sweats, vomiting, diarrhea, and many others. Should elimination be impossible or uneconomical of body energy, the toxic overload will go into storage forms in the joints, vessels, muscles, organs; almost any tissue in the body. While fasting, the body is highly conservative of its energy and resources. During this deep and profound rest, toxin intake and production are reduced to a minimum while autolysins and elimination proceed unchecked. Anabolic processes such as tissue and bone healing also proceed at a maximal rate during the fast.
In the body, the first stage of cleansing removes large quantities of waste matter and digestive residues. The first few days of a fast can be rough due to the quantity of waste passing into the blood stream. The tongue becomes coated and the breath foul as the body excretes waste through every opening. After the third day of the fast, there is little desire for food. The second stage is the cleansing of mucous, fat, diseased and dying cells, and the more easily removed toxins. As the fast continues, the cleansing process becomes more thorough. The last stage is the cleansing of toxins that have been accumulating in your cellular tissue from birth, and the microscopic tubes that carry vital elements to the brain. Cleansing of the last layer is only possible through a combination of juice fasting, water fasting, and a healthy diet high in raw foods. To overcome a severe disease like cancer, it is important to continue through a series of fasts, to the point where the full scouring action of catabolism removes the disease from the tissue.
During extended fasts the body removes: dead, dying and diseased cells; unwanted fatty tissue, trans-fatty acids, hardened coating of mucus on the intestinal wall; toxic waste matter in the lymphatic system and bloodstream; toxins in the spleen, liver and kidney; mucus from the lungs and sinuses, imbedded toxins in the cellular fibers and deeper organ tissues; deposits in the microscopic tubes responsible for nourishing brain cells and excess cholesterol.
Nearly everyone who fasts, discovers the same thing, that when they fast they actually have no hunger and more energy than they normally have. It is indeed liberating to find out that if we let go and trust that we will be taken care of. Fasting is the simplest, easiest and most effective way to find out that we do indeed have the power and freedom to heal and take control of our bodies.
Why Fast? (Benefits of Fasting)
Probably the most important reason is that the body uses quite a bit of energy to digest food, and when fasting this energy becomes available for other uses. In the fasting state, the body will scour for dead cells, damaged tissues, fatty deposits, tumors, abscesses, all of which are burned for fuel or expelled as waste. The elimination of these obstructions restores the immune system functionality and metabolic process to an optimum state. Fasting restores good digestion and elimination, and peristaltic action is quickened. Fasting allows a deep, physiological rest of the digestive organs, and the energy saved goes into self-healing and self-repairing. By eliminating obstructions, by cleansing, detoxification, and purifying the intestines, the blood, and the cells, we can overcome many of our physical ills or handicaps as well as getting a boost in energy. Fasting not only removes obstructions and helps the body to heal itself, it is also rejuvenating and life-extending. These resulting benefits can have lasting affects in your mental and emotional health.
The other very important aspect is that your self-awareness will be elevated. If you are sick and depressed, then this might be the most important thing you can try in your healing program, because it gives you immediately an energy boost and increased awareness which might allow that you see things more clearly, allowing you the first step out of your sickness and onto the path of recovery. While fasting you become more aware of your body process, your life and with everything you are doing. It becomes a period where you can evaluate all that you’re doing more objectively, and you naturally have more time for contemplation because you aren’t using time amassing, preparing, eating, eliminating and cleaning up all which is used to prepare food. You become more aware of what your body likes and doesn’t like when you start to eat again. You gain self-confidence in your ability to control your life process, to set a goal and carry out an intention.
- Fasting enhances mental acuity
Perhaps the most instructive testimony as to the acuteness of mental powers during fasting comes from Dr. Herbert Shelton who supervised the fasting of more than 40,000 people over a period of fifty years. His message is that the freer the body is of toxic materials flowing through the blood and lymphatic system, the clearer is the ability to think.
These facts are due to physiological causes. Large amounts of blood and nervous energies have to be sent to the digestive organs to digest a meal. If these energies are not required there, they may be used by the brain for better thinking. This increase in mental acuity doesn’t usually happen until after the first few days of a fast, because the body is busy cleaning out excess toxins and substances and so the first few days can be a period of depression, with headaches and various pains as this process is underway. This makes the first stage of fasting difficult but after the body has thrown off it’s load of toxins, then the brain is fed by a cleaner bloodstream and the mental powers and clarity of thought are extraordinarily increased and the other senses also become more acute.
One’s mind becomes clearer and one’s ability to think and solve intricate problems is enhanced. One is simply more alert, and one’s mind seems to open up into new fields. The mental and physical senses are heightened, and often there can be a feeling of euphoria, especially during longer fasts. Some, for the first time, will experience emotional stability. The reasons for this are multifold – the elimination of the emotional dependence on food, exclusion of stimulating foods like caffeine, processed sugars, recreational drugs, tobacco and trans-fatty acids, all of which can have a devastating effect on delicate emotions.
Dr. Ehret stated an amazing fact at the turn of the 20th century. He said that, for a water fast to awaken the higher mind functions, it had to be longer than 21 days. Fasting has a history of awakening intuitive senses, creativity, and deeper spiritual questions in those with enough determination to get past the 21 day mark.
During a fast, a metamorphosis occurs. The body undergoes a tearing down and rebuilding of damaged materials. For this reason, fasting is famous for its ability to rejuvenate and give the body a more youthful tone. Why does fasting have such a powerful effect in healing the body? Fasting dissolves diseased cells in a systematic manner, leaving healthy tissue. The result is a thorough cleansing of the tube, membrane and cellular structures. There is a remarkable redistribution of nutrients in the fasting body. It hangs on to precious minerals and vitamins while catabolizing on old tissue, toxins and inferior materials.
Each cell of your body is a complete living entity with its own metabolism. It needs a constant supply of oxygen and sufficient nourishment. When due to nutritional deficiencies, sluggish metabolism, sedentary life, overeating and consequent poor digestion and assimilation of food, lack of fresh air and sufficient exercise and rest, our cells are deprived… they start to degenerate… the normal process of cell replacement and rebuilding slows down and your body starts to grow old, its resistance to disease will diminish and you become ‘sick’.
Animals will naturally fast when they are sick or injured, and when we are ill, our hunger diminishes. If we get out of the way and allow nature to take its course, we will find that we can heal from any problem. Since the dawn of recorded time, in fact since before the word “doctor” came into existence, priests provided sanctuaries where people could go to fast. Whereas modern medical practitioners admit that they have no cures, only drugs that mask the symptoms while causing yet other symptoms to appear.
“I had a medical practice for 20 years in NYC, supervised hundreds of long fasts, and I found that the physical healing or weight loss was but a pleasant side effect. What really happened is that the person got in touch with their higher self, their true self, and came to the experience that healing can take place at every level, simply by letting go and allowing Mother Nature to do her work.” – Dr. Rai Casey
Fasting has been beneficial for these conditions:
Although fasting is not recommended in every situation, (cancer of the liver is one instance where fasting is contraindicated), in many situations fasting is the only known solution. Fasting has been beneficial for arthritis, asthma, high blood pressure, lupus, chronic fatigue, colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, spastic colon, irritable bowel, cases of paralysis, neuritis, neuralgia, neuroses, and mental illness as well as many others. Fasting will also break down tumors and for this reason, many have overcome cancer with fasting.
Fasting decreases dependency on authorities
How many of us believe that when we get sick, that a doctor is going to save us from pain and death? We just assume that the technology is going to be able to repair us when we break down, by giving us a pill, a treatment or a surgery. We are so alienated from our bodies that we think that a doctor knows more about us than we do. The reality is that doctor’s don’t have the cures that we need, what is offered by the traditional system of healers is only the possibility to treat our symptoms never being able to cure us or root out the cause. When we take these kinds of treatments to suppress our symptoms then that cause, which is the underlying reason we are sick, goes unattended, then in fact our illness continues to grow. We will never be healthy until we take responsibility for our own health . We need to stop blaming the outside for making us sick, whether it is corporations, a person, our immediate environment or a government, and to recognize instead that our sickness is a symptom telling us something is inside needs to be addressed. For sure there are outside influences that we can’t control, but there is much that we can control by taking responsibility for ourselves and working to change our habits.
Benefits of Fasting
Mental clarity is improved and brain fog is lifted.
Rapid, safe weight loss is achieved without flabbiness.
The nervous system is balanced.
Energy level and sensory perception is increased. The longer the fast, the bigger increase in energy and vitality. You normally need less sleep.
Organs are revitalized.
Cellular biochemistry is harmonized.
The skin becomes silky, soft, and sensitive.
There is greater ease of movement.
Breathing becomes fuller, freer and deeper.
The digestive system is rejuvenated and becomes more effective; the peristaltic action of the intestines (the cause of a natural bowel movement) is stronger after fasting.
Fasting retrains your tasting sense back to more healthy food as acute sensitivity is restored.
Fasting can increase confidence in our ability to have control over our lives and our appetite, and that our body is self-regulating and a self-healing organism capable or establishing balance when given the possibility to do so.
Normal metabolic and cell oxygenation are restored.
Detoxification – as soon as the body realizes that it’s fasting it will begin to eliminate those things that cause disease, such as fat cells, arterial cholesterol plaques, mucus, tumors, stored up worries and emotions.
Risks and Potential Negative Effects of Fasting for Weight Loss
- Weight Loss is Mitigated
Fasting has risks, obviously, because you deprive your body of nourishment and break from your regular routine. The first step the body takes during a fast is to utilize all of the sugars it has retained. Once these are gone, your body will determine that it is in a state of relative emergency because it will realize it is not receiving any new fuel. This forces it to go into a sort of survival mode, and this causes your metabolic rate to slow down as your cells “hunker down” for a long haul.
This is expected, but is one factor which works against fasting for weight loss, since weight loss is usually better achieved with a fast metabolism.
- Muscle Loss Risk
A more serious negative effect of a longer term fast is that your body will eventually begin breaking down muscle tissue, which it does to prevent actual starvation. Those looking to lose weight through fasting should be careful, as you are not gaining any benefit by breaking down muscle tissue.
- Low Blood Sugar Risk
Another risk relates to low blood sugar levels. Fasting will lower your blood sugar, which can be dangerous if the level gets too low. People have been known to lose their lives by fasting for too long and suffering complications from low blood sugar.
In conclusion, it seems that there are many reasons to consider fasting as a benefit to one’s health. The body rids itself of the toxins that have built up in our fat stores throughout the years. The body heals itself, repairs all the damaged organs during a fast. And finally there is good evidence to show that regulated fasting contributes to longer life. However, many doctors warn against fasting for extended periods of time without supervision. There are still many doctors today who deny all of these points and claim that fasting is detrimental to one’s health and have evidence to back their statements. The idea of depriving a body of what society has come to view as so essential to our survival in order to heal continues to be a topic of controversy.
Source: PE Fasting