I recently started fasting one day a week — either a juice fast or a 24-hour water fast.
Intermittent fasting is becoming popular, especially in bodybuilding circles. Why? Because intermittent fasting gives bodybuilders an edge; they find that they recover faster and they achieve a leaner body with just as much muscle mass when they include some intermittent fasting in their routine.
Fasting one day a week has been a part of many traditions; taking one day a week without food is not new.
Typically, during a fast (a water fast, that is), your body will eliminate toxins and burn fat, but this only happens after you’ve been fasting for a couple of days.
During the first 24-72 hours of fasting, your body is still feeding off its immediate energy reserves; you’re still thriving on the food that is being digested in your intestinal track. You still have glycogen reserves in your muscles and liver. Once those immediate reserves are used up, the body shifts its metabolism to a fasting metabolism; it will use ketones for energy production instead of glucose, and those ketones are produced by burning body fat.
The Two Phases of Fasting
In the first phase of a fast, you’re still in glucose metabolism. In the second phase, you shift to ketone bodies metabolism, when you shift to burning off body fat as a source of energy.
When you shift to ketone metabolism, it’s very difficult to keep up your energy, your thinking is alterned, you don’t feel like yourself, and you may have bad breath or other symptoms. However, the benefit of ketone bodies metabolism is that you’re burning off body fat and eliminating all of the toxins that might be stored in that fat.
Fasting one day per week will not put you in that second phase.
With a weekly fast of 24 to 36 hours, you’ll still be in glucose metabolism; you’ll still feel quite normal, but you’ll be hungry.
The benefits of a weekly fast are that it’s a true digestive rest. Weekly fasting gives your body a break from digesting. And there are some immediate detoxification benefits as well.
When feeding our bodies meal after meal, especially delicious, well-seasoned and sometimes heavy meals, we sometimes need a break.
A weekly fast can do that.
I recently started following a weekly juice fast and occasionally a water fast.
In a weekly juice fast you still consume calories. When I juice fast, I consume roughly 1,600 calories, which is about 900 calories less than what I normally eat. Also, because I only consume liquids during that day, it is a form of digestive rest. When I juice fast, I break the “fast” the next day, in the morning. So it is a 36-hour juice fast.
A 24-hour water fast is more difficult, but can also be rewarding. It’s not for everybody, but many people find that it helps them stay more balanced. It’s been shown that the benefits are actually achieved after 16-20 hours; you could end a little early.
A 36-hour fast is not recommended weekly because it puts more stress on the body. This is where you stop eating on Sunday night and resume eating on Tuesday morning, for example.
All forms of fasting can bring tremendous health benefits but they’re not for everybody. Ask your health professional about it first.
But most people can benefit from a weekly fast or even a monthly fast. The best way to see if it can work for you is to try it, but like I said, start with something simple like a juice fast.
What Happens During a Short Fast?
A short fast (with juices or not) is easier to follow than you might think. I recommend doing it on a day when you’re very busy. I always fast on a Monday because I usually don’t plan any social activities then and I have lots of things to do.
A Monday is an ideal day for most because you’re busy: you’re back at work, so you’re not going to plan a night out with friends or go to a restaurant, so you can focus on your work and not have to think so much about food. You will get hungry because your body is used to eating at certain times, but the first time you get hungry it will be false hunger, not true hunger. It will pass within an hour or two.
Around noon is when you will feel truly hungry, and at that time is your hour of glory. This is when you can decide to pursue the fast even though you don’t feel like it. This hunger will also disappear, but it might actually get a little stronger in the evening.
Of course, if you’re doing a juice fast, your hunger is relieved every time you drink. You might find yourself tired earlier than usual. This is normal because your body is dealing with the stress of not eating. Go to bed early. There is an old saying in French that roughly translates as, “who goes to bed has dinner,” which means sometimes the best way to deal with hunger is to go to bed.
You might experience headaches during your day of fasting. This is usually caused by caffeine withdrawals. If you haven’t given up caffeine completely and you’re starting to get serious headaches that impair your ability to work, have a little bit of caffeine. This is not going to affect the other good results you’ll get from your fast, but will get rid of your caffeine headaches. Think about ways you can reduce or eliminate your caffeine intake so that next time you fast, you will not get a caffeine withdrawal headache.
My first health mentor, Albert Mosseri, said that if someone has trouble following a natural hygiene diet and often tends to cheat, a weekly fast will correct those mistakes. It will help maintain their equilibrium.
But fasting is not about eating junk all week and then”detoxing,” it is supposed to be part of a healthy lifestyle — but only if it makes sense for you.
I can only speak from my experience:
I’ve found short fasts extremely beneficial for me. They tend to improve my mood. On my fasting day, I feel more optimistic. I feel better. I feel more at ease. In some cases, it even increases my energy (especially a weekly juice fast.) I find that it’s just a great way to start the week and it also helps me eat better the rest of the week. Fasting is great to restore your taste buds — after a short fast, you naturally feel like eating healthy foods.
Have you ever experimented with short fasts?
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.
Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.
From an alimentary point of view, fasting means not eating and not drinking anything at all. Not eating anything and drinking just water is also considered fasting. However, some experts question this statement, as they claim that fasting in a proper way means that one shouldn’t eat or drink anything.
When the body is deprived of food, there will be a systemic cleaning, except vital tissues.
Fasting is an important part of many religions and some experts believe that fasting can do wonders for people’s health.
How does it work?
From a technical standpoint, the body reacts to fasting after the first 24 hours, but chemically, food shortages determine the use of carbohydrates reserves as an energy source.
Due to lack of energy from food, the body will use its own resources (function called autolysis). Autolysis requires the fat deposits in the body to produce energy. The liver is responsible for converting fat into a chemical substance called ketone (the substance that results from the metabolism of acetic acid and beta-hydroxybutyric acid) and then it distributes these organisms throughout the body via the bloodstream.
When fat is used this way, free fatty acids are released into the bloodstream and are used by the liver as an energy source. The more a person eats less, the more the body pushes these fatty deposits and creates more ketones (accumulation referred to in ketosis’ case).
The starvation issue only arises when the body will be forced to use as vital tissue to survive.
Fear related to muscle fibers decrease due to protein catabolism is unjustified. Even after a long fast, the number of muscle fibers remains the same. Although size and strength of healthy cells can be reduced, they are not affected.
Fasting is an alimentary therapeutic method practiced in specialized clinics in several countries around the world. There are many renowned clinics in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, Britain, Russia, USA, Japan, and China.
Patients are assisted by doctors, and the program is rigorous. The duration varies according to the disease, between three to five weeks, even 40 days for cancer patients. In clinics around Germany alone there are between 5,000 and 10,000 patients treated every year.
Dr. Guelpa from France is known worldwide for his success in treating illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, bronchitis, stomach diseases and arthritis through fasting. Physicians E. H. Dewey, Sigmund Meier, and Adolf Muller followed the same path. Many patients were cured of the liver, gall bladder and heart diseases and even some psychiatric disorders.
Over the years, doctors have used various types of fasting: only with water, fruits, fresh juices or rice. All these methods were effective because they have activated the body in order to heal itself. Those who try this therapy for the first time require a minimum preparation, as they may experience dizziness, headaches, and faintness, but all these symptoms will disappear in time. Doctors say that these symptoms are normal and they prove that the person has accumulated a lot of impurities in the body
Personally, I have experienced fasting several times, during which I have to drink only water for 3 days. Other times, I would just eat fruits for 10 days at a time. I have to admit that being a vegan for more than 8 years has helped me considerably during the fasting period. In my case, this experience has given me an energy boost, with an increased physical endurance.
In my opinion, fasting is a good way to start a purification and healing process.
Here are 12 health benefits of fasting one day a week:
Even if you are healthy and have a good digestion, there are stored food residues in your intestines that decay, flooding your blood with toxins. In time, you may experience headaches, fatigue, and drowsiness without a specific cause. If you have these symptoms, maybe it’s time to start a fasting period.
2. Refreshing sleep
I have experienced this benefit to the full during my fasting period. I always woke up energized and eager to work. The explanation is quite simple: in addition to eliminating toxins, the digestive system had nothing to process overnight, hence it rested. The energy that would have been invested in digestion was used in other ways or was simply preserved, thus improving my wellbeing in the morning.
3. Feeling connected to others
It’s rather difficult for me to put this feeling into words. It’s the kind of feeling I started experiencing after a day or two during the fasting period. This connection leads to the next benefit in my list.
4. Kindness to others
Not eating anything or drinking water changes the body’s vibration. You will not resonate with negative behaviors and low vibrations, instead, you will feel the need to appreciate every “thank you”, “excuse me” or “please”. You will be more grateful for things you never thought capable of arousing these feelings.
5. Increased ability to concentrate
I have heard many people say that when they are hungry they cannot be productive, cannot learn effectively, cannot work etc. This is just a wrong impression. It is scientifically proven that when the digestive system works, the brain is slower. Try to remember how you felt after your last big meal. Immediately afterward you became sleepy, you didn’t feel like doing anything, and perhaps you even wanted to sleep.
If you coddle the digestive system, all the energy will be directed to a more efficient functioning of the brain and the immune system. I have managed to fulfill my daily tasks without any discomfort, even with joy and surprise regarding my ability to focus on a specific task extended periods.
6. Increased healing process
Another benefit of fasting is that it stimulates the healing processes of the body. Unlike metabolism and immune system, the digestive system is less strained during the fasting period.
Development of abnormal formations or tumors in the body is slowed down due to the body’s involvement in the autolysis process. In addition, there is a more effective process of replacing damaged cells, because there are fewer mistakes resulting from the RNA / DNA genetic checks.
Following an efficient synthesis of proteins leads to healthy cells, tissues, and organs. This is why animals don’t eat when they are injured and people lose their appetite when suffering from the flu. Hunger sensation is absent during illnesses such as gastritis, tonsillitis, and colds.
During fasting periods body temperature drops. This phenomenon is the direct result of slower metabolism and body functions. As a consequence of low blood sugar and use of glucose reserves found in liver glycogen, basal metabolic rate is reduced in order to preserve as much energy as possible from the body for later use.
7. Protects us from cardiovascular illnesses
Recent studies have shown that fasting reduces the chance of cardiovascular diseases. Scientists have discovered that this type of diet helps lower triglycerides, weight, and glycemia and thus keeping heart diseases away.
8. Improvement of the immune system
The truth is that many people have a poor immune system. This is primarily due to improper nutrition. Big stores are full of food that is soaked with chemicals, designed to make it last longer and look good. If you’re not careful and eat these products, your body will have to devote a lot of energy to eliminate substances to which it’s not accustomed to.
It will take the energy it needs from anywhere possible, but consider that it protects you, it will choose to take the energy assigned to the immune system. This makes you more susceptible to viruses, and the most common effects are the cold outbreaks.
As such, during fasting, there is a redirection of energy normally used by the digestive system, in order to activate the immune system.
The discovery of scientists from the University of South Carolina has been described as “remarkable”, informs Top Sante. According to experts, the immune system can be renewed after only three days of fasting. The starvation the body feels during the 72 hours stimulates cells to produce new white blood cells.
This could help the elderly, whose immune system becomes less efficient, leading to a weaker defense against infections, even the minor ones.
“The good news is that the body is not satisfied just to produce new white blood cells. During fasting, the body discards the old or damaged cells. During each cycle of fasting, this afflux of new white blood cells leads to regeneration of the immune system “, states prof. Valter Longo.
9. Weight loss
If you have a few extra pounds, fasting will help you lose weight. There is nothing to worry about. First cells attacked are those that hurt you. The body will not touch the healthy cells, instead, it will attack the ones you wanted out of your body anyway and it will disintegrate them, thus gaining specific energy requirements.
There are scientifically proven facts that during fasting the body begins to disintegrate diseased cells that harm you. Under the guidance of a Romanian called Valeriu Popa, many people have been cured of cancer by fasting. The same treatment is applied to patients who appeal to Gerson clinics.
10. Slowing down the aging process
Studies have shown that fasting stimulates the secretion of the anti-aging hormone, but also growth hormone. The only way to slow down aging in mammals discovered so far is underfeeding.
11. Extension of life expectancy
Finally, most studies have proven that after fasting periods people feel rejuvenated and have a long life expectancy. In part, this phenomenon is caused by the benefits mentioned above.
A slower metabolic rate, intensive production of proteins, an improved immune system and stimulation of hormone production (growth hormone and anti-aging hormone) are long-term benefits of fasting.
12. Emotional balance
Another effect of fasting is unleashing, the release of negative experiences that are to blame for all kinds of serious illnesses of our body.
Other benefits of fasting include – increased pleasure of eating (food will taste better), fasting often gives a sexual force, also more spare time since you don’t have to waste hours shopping, cooking or eating.
Regardless of the type and duration, therapeutic fasting rarely has contraindications. There are however special cases that need special attention. Therefore, persons who are included in any of the categories below should wait until they are no longer included in those specific categories or until they will receive specialist’s supervision.
It is forbidden to:
- Persons who are not 18 years of age;
- Pregnant women;
- Women during confinement and breastfeeding period;
- People who suffer from eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, etc.);
- People with severe anemia;
- People with a very low vitality, low blood sugar or in recovering;
- People with type I diabetes, insulin dependent;
- Anyone who has suffered a heart attack;
- People who suffer from Porphyria (a genetic metabolic defect);
- People with rare genetic defects that prevent adequate ketosis;
- Those who suffer from mental disorders because they may not get through the stage of detoxification of fasting without proper medical supervision.
- Returning from fasting
- You must be careful when returning to your regular diet after cessation o the fasting period, be cautious and eat progressively, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
- The return period should last about as many days as the fasting period and it should be done slowly. Moreover, try to eat food without salt or sugar, which may not be very appetizing, but it facilitates a gradual transition from fasting to a regular diet.
Fasting cure is a biological treatment, a detoxification, and purification of both body and mind. There seems to be plenty of reasons to consider fasting a benefit to our health.
However, doctors emphasize the importance of medical supervision during prolonged fasting periods. Also, people who are ill should receive the doctor’s approval on food deprivation.
Please share your thoughts and fasting experiences.
“Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.” ― Hippocrates.
One day (24-hour) water fasts have become a popular way to maintain health and vigor. Fasting uses the self-healing properties of the human body. Health improvements happen when the digestive system is given rest and the organs get ample time to repair and heal themselves.
A regular practice of a fasting can improve digestive efficiency, increase mental clarity, increase physical and mental vigor, remove toxins, improve vision and give a general feeling of well being. A 24-hour fast, once a week, is a common religious practice in many communities.
How to prepare for a One day water fast?
Those who are experienced in fasting do not need any external advice, as they have studied the reactions of their own body during the fasting period. A one-day fast is pretty simple for them. But for beginners, a little more care is required.
Beginners should choose a day that is stress free, with relatively less activities planned. Do not consider any heavy work or excessive travel during that day. Light activities, like reading, slow yoga movements, working on your computer, walking in the woods, meditation, watching television, driving short distances, etc., are acceptable. But avoid stressful activities, like heavy exercises, going to the gym, lifting heavy weights, running long distances, etc., as these consume a lot of calories and will make you unnecessarily hungry.
A normal human body can go for weeks without food. Hence, a one-day fast is relatively easy to do. Once one starts doing it, one will experience great health benefits. Those with serious medical conditions can also fast under the supervision of an expert. If one has a serious illness, it’s important to consult a physician first before attempting to fast.
How to do a One day water fast?
In a one-day fast, one must drink only water for 24 hours. No solid food or other liquids that contain nutrition (like fruit juice, milk, etc.) are allowed. Simple pure mineral water is the best. One can also use boiled and cooled water. Do not add anything in the water during boiling. One may drink about 1 ½ liters to 3 liters of plain water in one full day, according to ones capacity. There is no harm in drinking even more, if need be.
The best time to start the fast is during early morning. After getting up from bed and brushing the teeth, drink about two glasses of water. This will also help with bowel movements. The rest of the day, one can drink water any time. There is no restriction on the quantity of water to drink each time or the number of times to consume water. Continue this for a whole day, till the next day morning.
Body reactions during a One day water fast
During the one day fast, one will notice a few reactions in the body, which is considered normal. As a habit, the body is used to consuming food many times a day. When there is sudden lack of food intake, one may feel weakness, dizziness, nausea, etc. There may be also a drop in blood pressure and slight headaches. One need not get frightened by these reactions. These are quite normal during a one-day fast. Those who fast regularly won’t even feel these symptoms. But beginners should just take rest or lie down whenever these symptoms become intense.
One may even feel a sudden bout of hunger. Just take one or two glasses of water to dilute the gastric secretions. Then lie down and take rest. The hunger should go away in a short time.
How to break a One day water fast?
Learning how to break a fast is very important. During the fasting period, there is hardly any digestive activity. One should be gentle on the stomach when breaking the fast. Do not overload the stomach. The best way to break a fast is with lime juice or orange juice.Half a spoon of honey may also be added to the juice. If needed, even fruits can be taken, as they are easy to digest. Boiled vegetables are also fine. Use little or no spice with vegetables as it can irritate the linings of the stomach.
The second meal of the day can be normal.
Benefits of a One day water fast
- A one-day fast (once every week) will give tremendous health benefits. Our digestive system works without any rest, day and night. A fast will give the much needed rest to the entire digestive system to repair and heal itself. The human body has self healing abilities. Even animals instinctively take to fasting when they are sick. Animals are guided by their natural instincts, while as humans we tend to ignore them, and thus aggravate our sickness.
- It gives improved energy and vigor.
- It removes many mental blocks and gives clarity of mind.
- It eliminates toxins from the body and can go a long way to prevent future illnesses.
- It can give slight improvements in the eye sight, though this effect is seen more during long term fasts.
- Fasting can improve immunity and has anti-aging benefits.
- It gives an overall sense of well being.
- Fasting is the easiest way to lose weight. Those who do intermittent one day water fasts can benefit more by integrating yoga into their lifestyle. See articles – Obesity and Yoga Management & Pranayama for Weight Loss.
- One-day fasts have been followed, for thousands of years, for their spiritual benefits. Hindus follow the fast on ‘Pradosham’ days, which come on the 13th day of the lunar cycle (‘Triyodashi’). It is said to remove sins or bad karma, which limits our life energies. ‘Ekadashi’ fasting (on the 11th day of lunar cycle) is done by worshippers of Vishnu. Some fast on Saturdays to alleviate the problems due to Saturn in their planetary chart, while some fast on Tuesdays to remove problems due to afflicted Mars. Fasting is an ancient spiritual practice known to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and almost all known religious faiths throughout the world. Fasting gives inner strength and confidence. It makes one feel that one is the spirit and is not limited to the body alone.
Contraindications for a One day water fast
- Those suffering from any chronic medical condition, terminal illness or mental illness should first consult a doctor before taking up a one-day water fast.
- Pregnant women should not take up long term water fasts, though a one day water fast can be taken up with doctor’s advice.
- Children below 18 years are advised to take parental consent and medical advice before attempting water fasts.
- Those with kidney and Liver problems should consult a doctor before attempting it.
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An Introduction to the Benefits of a Professionally Supervised Fast
When the body is provided with the requirements of health, including appropriate diet, environment, activity and psychology, optimum health can be maintained. If these requirements are not adequately provided, health will be compromised.
Often, the best means of facilitating the restoration of health is therapeutic fasting. It allows the body to create a unique physiological healing response that is unparalleled.
Therapeutic fasting is defined as the complete abstinence from all substances except pure water in an environment of complete rest.
There are no substitutes. When therapeutic fasting is indicated, nothing else can be considered “just as good.”
Going without food, even for a few days, while working, exercising, worrying, etc. is not therapeutic fasting. A noisy, high stress and/or non-supportive environment will not provide the body the opportunity to maximize the self-healing mechanisms. To maximize the benefits of therapeutic fasting, complete rest is essential.
Eating only certain foods or drinking only juices is not therapeutic fasting. The physiological and clinical impact and benefits are different. This is not to say that juice diets or so-called elimination diets do not have a role. But they are not the same as therapeutic fasting.
When properly applied and conducted, therapeutic fasting is one of the most potent tools available for assisting the body in healing itself. When abused or applied injudiciously, harm can result. The most important advice I can give anyone regarding fasting is this. If you are going to undertake a fast, do it right or don’t do it.
Is Fasting Indicated?
The most clear cut indication for therapeutic fasting is the lack of appetite that characterizes acute disease. When the body generates a healing crisis in acute disease, it is generally best to eliminate the intake of food until the crisis has resolved and hunger returns. That might mean skipping a meal, or two. It might mean skipping many meals.
Fasting is extremely effective in helping the body to quickly resolve the problems that create the need for the symptoms that we know as acute disease. These symptoms include things like fever, inflammation, pain, etc. It is in acute disease that we see the most dramatic results from short term fasting.
Fasting is also effectively utilized in chronic disease. Chronic disease often has its origin in acute diseases that never resolved or were suppressed. Fasting allows the body an opportunity to generate an acute response in a chronic condition.
It is in the fasting state that the body is given the opportunity to purify its tissues, to eliminate undesirable tissue accumulations, growth, etc. It also allows the body an opportunity to let stressed and abused tissues heal.
The scientific and medical literature contains literally hundreds of papers dealing with the therapeutic use of fasting. It has been extensively used in the treatment of a variety of conditions, including obesity, diabetes, epilepsy, atherosclerotic vascular disease, congestive heart failure, cancer, autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, and as a desensitization tool in the treatment of hypersensitivity and allergies.
Fasting is also used for what might be termed rejuvenescence. It provides an opportunity for the organism to “clean house,” physically and mentally; for accumulated debris to be eliminated; and to allow for the introspection that is so often lacking in the rush of modern day life.
There are individuals who are not good candidates for therapeutic fasting. But there are few conditions per se that contraindicate its appropriate use.
The greatest contraindication to fasting is fear. A lack of understanding of the fasting process can present insurmountable problems. Extreme weakness in various diseases associated with muscular wasting may also contraindicate fasting.
There are numerous medications that can complicate the fasting process. Inadequate nutrient reserves would be another potential contraindication to fasting. Certain types of cancer and severe kidney disease may also make an individual a poor fasting candidate.
With proper supervision and careful clinical monitoring, therapeutic fasting is safe and effective as a means of helping the body heal itself. But as with any activity there are inherent risks. I advise anyone contemplating a therapeutic fast to consider utilizing a certified IAHP professional who is trained in its use.
The International Association of Hygienic Physicians is an association made up of primary care physicians who specialize in the supervision of therapeutic fasting. Each certified member is a licensed medical doctor, chiropractor or osteopath who has completed a minimum six-month residency program in an accredited institution specializing in therapeutic fasting.
The IAHP has established standards of practice for fasting supervision and is currently conducting fasting research. With the recent increase in number of certified professionals, a safe and effective fasting experience is more readily available than ever before.
Where to Fast
Whatever the indication for therapeutic fasting, it is essential that the individual be placed in an environment conducive to complete rest. The body needs to adjust to the fasting physiology. The importance of rest should not be underestimated. Unnecessary mobilization of nutrient reserves must be avoided.
Here again we see the benefits of fasting in a Natural Hygiene facility under the supervision of a certified IAHP professional. You will be in a setting that is designed for the purpose of providing a quiet, peaceful and emotionally supportive environment in which to fast. You will be separated from the well-meaning interference of friends and family. And you will have 24-hour access to a doctor trained and experienced in the use of fasting.
Before therapeutic fasting is undertaken, a pre-fasting evaluation should be completed. This includes a complete health history, including an evaluation of previous illnesses, injury and treatment. An assessment is made of the current symptoms and current treatment being undertaken. A family history is also of interest.
Next, a comprehensive physical exam should be performed. Appropriate laboratory procedures such as the utilization of urinalysis or blood evaluations should also be performed.
These procedures provide the practitioner with the information needed to determine if therapeutic fasting is indicated as well as providing a base line that can be used to establish each individual’s norms.
Without a good base line, it can be very difficult to differentiate a positive healing crisis from a physiological compromise. For example, a person who develops an arrhythmia on the fourteenth day of a fast might be treated very differently from an individual who starts the fast with the same condition.
How Long to Fast
Once the evaluation has been completed and it is determined that fasting is in fact indicated, the next question usually concerns the duration of the fast. How long will it last?
It should be understood that the fast itself is an important diagnostic tool in determining duration. The signs and symptoms that occur during the fast provide the trained observer with important information about the nature of the underlying conditions.
Although an experienced practitioner can estimate the length of a fast needed, none of us have crystal balls. It is important to go into the fast with a willingness to allow the body to tell us what is indicated. The idea is to fast as briefly as possible, but as long as necessary to allow the body to generate and resolve any possible healing crises that might result.
In the past, the concept of fasting “to completion” was often promoted. This meant fasting until the tongue cleared and hunger returned. But experience has shown that these factors are unreliable indicators. Some people would not develop a clear tongue even if they fasted far beyond their bodily reserves. The mere absence of hunger does not ensure that adequate reserves remain.
Understanding the Fast
The physiology of fasting has been extensively studied, and three phases of fasting have been identified.
The first phase can be called the gastrointestinal phase, and lasts approximately for first six hours following the last meal. During this phase the body uses glucose, amino acids and fats, as they are absorbed from the intestinal tract.
Phase two lasts for more or less the next two days. During this time the body will use its glycogen (sugar) reserves that are stored in the muscle and liver cells. These glycogen reserves are mobilized to provide the central nervous system, including the brain, with its normal fuel, glucose. Within a few hours the body begins to convert adipose (fat) tissue into fatty acids.
Were it not for the body’s ability to switch fuels and enter phase three, where the body switches from glucose to fat metabolism, therapeutic fasting could not take place. The body’s protein reserves would be quickly depleted.
Fortunately, this is not a problem. In fact, within ten hours from the last meal approximately 50% of muscle fuel is coming from fat. Even the brain itself begins to shift over the fat metabolism. The consumption of protein reserves decreases from 75 grams per day at the beginning of a fast to just 20 grams a day by the end of the second week.
As you can see, excess activity including excess emotional stress could increase the body’s fuel needs, interfering with the optimum adaptation to the fasting state.
Body reserves differ from individual to individual. But a “typical” 155-pound male at normal weight has enough reserves to fast for between two to four months. If the fast were allowed to continue beyond the individual’s reserves, starvation would ensue and serious damage and eventually death would occur.
Breaking the Fast
As with all aspects of fasting, proper termination of the fast is a highly individual matter. The decision to terminate a fast is based on an evaluation of numerous factors, including the patient’s history, symptomatic presentation, examination results, laboratory results, as well as their psychological state and personal circumstances.
One of the characteristics of therapeutic fasting is the healing crisis. It is important to understand the healing crisis and avoid interfering with this necessary and productive process. We always try to terminate a fast during a period of stability.
Most fasts will be terminated with fresh fruits or vegetables or their juices.
After the Fast
The most important period of the fast is the initial re-feeding. Too rapid a return to food and activity can spell disaster. Materials that have been mobilized during the fast must be eliminated. Improper feeding or activity after the fast can seriously disrupt this process.
It is during the re-feeding program that good dietary and lifestyle habits are reinforced. The body must be given an opportunity to develop a preference for whole, natural foods, appropriate physical activity, etc. No matter how successful your body is at resolving problems with a fasting process, long-term dietary and life-style compliance will be necessary.
Fasting is not a cure. It is a process that facilitates the body’s healing mechanisms. It is up to each individual to ensure that the requirements of health are provided on a continuing basis.
People who succeed with Natural Hygiene are those who cooperate long enough that they feel so good that “feeling good” becomes their motivation. Lifestyle changes based on discipline alone or coupled with negative motivation such as fear of pain, disease or death will only last so long. But the ecstasy of optimal health is lasting.
Therapeutic fasting means taking pure water while ensuring complete physical and emotional rest. This unique process maximizes the healing potential of the body, allowing it to “clean house” and quickly restore a state of higher health.
Therapeutic fasting should be supervised by a properly trained hygienic doctor and should be followed by appropriate dietary and lifestyle modifications.
When properly implemented, therapeutic fasting is extremely effective in creating an internal environment in which the body can do what it does best – heal itself.