Benefits of Fasting

Fasting is the oldest form of health care. Modern thinking has developed this mentality that when we are sick, eating produces strength. But nothing is further from the truth. If a sick person will fast, more energy will be available to fight the illness because the body is relieved from the labor of digesting foods. The energy required for digesting food is very high, particularly animal fats and proteins (including chicken soup.) We have been advised to avoid swimming after eating or suffer cramps in the water because muscles in use require energy, which produces lactic acid. Lactic acid is also produced in the process of digestion. Combined, these can be overwhelming to the muscles.

Another example is during festivals like Thanksgiving where people eat like it’s their last meal. After a huge amount of food, do you feel energized or tired? You feel tired because the body is busy using all of its energy for digestion. If you eat heavily before sleep you will wake up feeling tired because your body cannot go into rest mode while it is busy digesting. Digesting food requires tremendous amounts of energy…and it’s not the kind that burns calories!

When you fast, the freed energy can then be directed towards the elimination of toxins in the body. The process of fasting normalizes glandular, metabolic and nervous-system functions; speeding up the elimination of morbid accumulations, toxic wastes and dead cells; accelerating new cell and tissue generation and enhancing cell-oxygenation. Unfortunately, only animals and babies retain their natural instinct when sick and refuse food.

What is Fasting?
Fasting commences within the first twelve to twenty-four hours of ceasing to eat ANY substance. A fast does not chemically begin until the carbohydrate stores in the body begin to be used as an energy source. The fast will continue as long as fat and carbohydrate stores are used for energy, as opposed to protein stores. Once protein stores begin to be depleted for energy, a person is technically starving. You do not want to reach this point as it is unhealthy and will result in loss of muscle mass. A fast is defined by the lack of digestive response. Lack of chewing is not fasting. Some believe that if they blend foods and drink them, they are fasting. No, that is just your teeth on vacation. Technically, fasting means nothing is consumed except for water, perhaps mixed with a little unsweetened apple or grape juice. These do not require digestion, particularly the apple juice, so the technicality of the fast is preserved.

Fasting Induces Detoxification
Detoxification is a normal body process of eliminating or neutralizing toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph glands, and skin. This process is precipitated by fasting because when food is no longer entering the body, the body turns to fat reserves for energy. These fat reserves were created when excess glucose and carbohydrates were not used for energy or growth, not excreted, and therefore converted into fat. When the fat reserves are used for energy during a fast, it releases the chemicals from the fatty acids into the system which are then eliminated through the mentioned elimination channels. Chemicals not found in food but absorbed from one’s environment, such as DDT, Novocain (dentist and epidurals), many vaccine preservatives, etc., are stored in fat reserves that can be released during a fast. One fasting advocate tested his own urine, feces and sweat during an extended fast and found traces of DDT in each. Keep in mind that the body will always use glucose sources for energy first, then fat stores when there is no longer glucose available. That means that for your body to release any of the toxins stored in fat, you have to fast long enough to use up the glucose reserves. That takes 1-3 days for most people. We will discuss how long one should fast shortly.

During a fast, energy is diverted away from the digestive system due to its lack of use and towards the metabolism and immune system. The healing process during a fast is precipitated by the body’s search for energy sources. Abnormal growths within the body (polyps, cysts, fatty tumors and malignant tumors), do not have the full support of the body’s supplies and therefore are more susceptible to autolysis (self digest). The liver is in charge of converting fats. This is called autolysis or gluconeogenesis. When this fat utilization occurs, free fatty acids are released into the blood stream and are used by the liver for energy. The less one eats, the more the body turns to these stored fats and creates ketones, the accumulation of which is referred to as ketosis.

Dietary ketosis is often confused with Ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition most often associated with uncontrolled insulin-deficient Type 1 diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, a lack of insulin leads to a toxic build-up of blood glucose and an excessive break-down of fat and muscle tissue. Ketoacidosis doesn’t occur in individuals who have even a small amount of insulin, whether from natural production or (if diabetic) artificially administered. In fact, far from causing health problems, dietary ketosis for intentional weight loss may be beneficial for health, as it can produce a range of benefits, such as: rapid weight loss, decreased hunger and fewer food-cravings, improved mood, increased energy and, providing protein-intake is adequate, protection of lean muscle tissue.

When we burn a larger amount of fat than is immediately needed for energy, the excess ketones are discarded in the urine. Volatile ketones (like, acetone) can be expelled through the lungs. Diabetics are sometimes mistaken for being drunk by the odor on their breath. Ketones give the breath a sickly, fruity odor like nail-varnish remover or pear-drops. If you get breath like this, you need more complex carbohydrates in your diet. If you do not add carbohydrates, you will probably loose weight very quickly, which might be your goal, but it will soon make the blood very acid and this can be very dangerous. You can buy keytone test strips for testing urine and keep your levels monitored if you wish to maximize metabolic success without crossing into a health hazard.

In addition, production of protein for replacement of damaged cells (protein synthesis) occurs more efficiently because fewer “mistakes” are made by the DNA/RNA genetic controls which govern this process. A higher efficiency in protein synthesis results in healthier cells, tissues and organs. This is one reason that animals stop eating when they are wounded, and why humans lose hunger during influenza. Hunger has been proven absent in illnesses such as gastritis, tonsillitis and colds. When the body looses hunger, there is a reason. Generally speaking, listen, don’t eat! …not even chicken soup. Your body is trying to heal. We think we need food for energy to grow, but did you know that growth hormones are also released during a fast, due to the greater efficiency in hormone production?

Science of Fasting
The most scientifically proven advantage to fasting is the feeling of rejuvenation and extended life expectancy. The surest way to increase the life span is by cutting down the amount of food eaten, which is interesting since one of the signs of success in most societies, is lots of food. Part of this phenomenon is caused by a number of the benefits mentioned above. A slower metabolic rate, more efficient protein production, an improved immune system, and the increased production of hormones contributes to this long-term benefit of fasting. In addition to the Human Growth Hormone that is released more frequently during a fast, an anti-aging hormone is also produced more efficiently. The only reliable way to extend the life span of a mammal (human) is under-nutrition without malnutrition.

A study was performed on earthworms that demonstrated the extension of life due to fasting. The experiment was performed in the 1930s by isolating one worm and putting it on a cycle of fasting and feeding. The isolated worm outlasted its relatives by 19 generations, while still maintaining its youthful physiological traits. The worm was able to survive on its own tissue for months. Once the size of the worm began to decrease, the scientists would resume feeding it at which point it showed great vigor and energy. The life-span extension of these worms was the equivalent of keeping a man alive for 600 to 700 years. I don’t know if it means anything, but after Noah’s flood in the Bible, man was allowed to eat many foods which were previously forbidden. Most of the meat delicacies in the world today are foods that were on that forbidden list, and still are for Jews.

Dr. Clive McCay, at Cornell University took laboratory rats and cut the rat’s food intake by half. It doubled their life span. Another study at the University of Texas involving three groups of rats is also interesting to note. One group eats as much as it wants, a second has its food intake cut by more than half, and the third eats as much as it wants but it’s protein intake was cut in half. After more than 2 years, only 13 % of the rats in the first group are still alive. Of the second group which has its food intake cut by more than half, 97 % are still alive. The third group sees only half remaining. The message is simple, Eat less = Live longer.

Fasting To Resolve Addictions
Most people are surprised at how easy it is to quit smoking or drinking with the help of fasting. Addictions are signs that we have lost awareness of ourselves in terms of our ability to process feelings. Addictions are simply methods of covering up emotions we don’t know how to deal with. It is often subconscious, so we aren’t even aware of what our “issues” are. This is part of being unaware of ourselves. When I say the word addiction, you probably think of things like alcohol, cocaine, nicotine and caffeine, but food, work, the drive to make money, sex (pornography), or anything that we have a hard time controlling our desire for, is an addiction. It is this very attribute that gives fasting a spiritual nature. Modern diets are addictions to many people. The addiction to what people believe to be yummy foods, are actually artificial colors, preservatives and additives. Fasting will often shorten the time it takes for an individual to make the transition from a modern diet and lifestyle to a healthier food choice and lifestyle. People say that after fasting healthy foods taste better, they are drawn to them and they lack desire for some of the junk they previously craved. Why? The awareness has begun to return. The body is able to communicate better, you can once again be intuitive with your body. NOTE: It is extremely counter productive to have blood sugar issues when a person already has addictions, so be sure to choose the kind of fast that will keep blood sugar stable if success is desired.

What Is The Best Fast?
According to the purists, fasting means only water – a juice fast is not a real fast. The religious purists assume that Jesus did a water fast, but there is no way to prove this. The Swedish Dr. Ragnar Berg, long considered an authority on nutrition and biochemistry stated, “During fasting, the body burns up and excretes huge amounts of accumulated waste. We can help this process by drinking alkaline juices instead of water. Juice fasting is therefore the very best form of fasting.” Furthermore, certain herbal combinations cleanse the entire gastro-intestinal tract, assure the elimination of toxins and the balancing of the entire body.

Most people have blood sugar imbalances (hypoglycemic tendencies). It is unproductive and even counterproductive to create blood sugar imbalances in the body, both on a physical, mental and emotional level. For this reason, juice fasting is both gentler on the system and easier on the mind. In a juice fast, the body is not starved of nutrients. Spending time taking in juices, herbal cleansing teas and because your taste buds are being satisfied by the juice, a juice fast feels less frugal than a water fast. The juice has an alkalizing effect on the blood, which reduces symptoms of detoxification. There are fruit juice and vegetable juice fasts.

The fruit juice fast is going to be more effective in detoxification, particularly if you use organic, unsweetened apple juice. Those who have issues with apple juice can use organic, unsweetened grape juice (Kedem in the glass bottle may be the absolute best, but hard to find). Apple juice contains pectin, an enzymes which induces further detoxification of the liver, gallbladder and even the stomach and small intestine. Both of these fruits are low glycemic fruits, which means they don’t have a high reaction to insulin response; i.e., your blood sugar doesn’t go all over the place. A fruit juice fast should contain no concentrations of juice, but a mixture of organic juice and water at a 50/50 ratio or more in favor of water.

If the body is already weak before beginning a fast, it is wisest to begin a vegetable juice fast rather than a fruit juice fast. While fruits have cleansing attributes, vegetables have more building attributes. Drinking freshly made vegetable juice allows a person who is weak to fast for short terms and gain the effects of fasting without creating further weakness. Carrots are the typical staple item in a vegetable juice fast. Any juicer will work to make your juice, but the juice needs to be used no more than 20 minutes after making it or it begins to loose essential nutritional components. The only exception might be the Greens Plus Juicer as it claims to keep nutrients for much longer.

How Long Should A Fast Last?
Fasting should not continue if the body begins to eat its own muscle (often evident if extreme hunger pains occur), if ketosis becomes a problem or there is mental impairment. You should always begin with a short fast. One day is a good start. If you feel stress at the very thought of fasting, begin by simply eliminating an important food group from your diet. This process prepares the mind for a day with no food. Once you know you are fine with one day, try to go three days. Some of the experts in cleansing state that the body does not dump the deep toxins until at least day 7, or even 10 days for some. Once you know you can do it, a fast of 10-40 days has been achieved by many. DO NOT get yourself in a health crisis though. If you feel severe hunger pains, or begin to get great mental confusion, please stop the fast.

When Is Fasting Harmful?
Fasting should not be considered without professional supervision if a person is pregnant, nursing, has eating disorders, or is excessively thin or malnourished.

How To Break A Fast
The greatest benefit may be lost, followed by harmful after effects, if the fast is not broken in the right way. George Bernard Shaw said, “Any fool can fast, but it takes a wise man to break a fast properly.” In fact, the best effects of a fast depend upon the dietetic management after it is broken. The longer the fast, the more care must be taken in breaking it. Raw fruit and vegetables should be the order of the next three days. If you need something more, a boiled or baked potato without butter can be introduced on the second and third day. The greatest danger lies in eating too frequently and too much at a time. After a long fast the digestive organs are in a condition of complete inactivity, and to overload them suddenly with a large amount of food may provoke acute attacks of indigestion and produce many other kinds of serious disturbances. The organs must be trained to return to normal activity gradually, beginning with very small quantities of light food.

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2 Responses to Benefits of Fasting

  1. CraigGraves says:

    Fasting is tough the first couple times but it gets easier. Great post!

  2. Mj says:

    I am considering a water fast, however I am on several medications…birth control, a small dose of steroid, depression, anxiety, and mood stabilizing medications. I cannot find any information on whether or not I should wean off these medications before starting a fast? Or if it is okay to continue taking them during a fast? Please help!