Fasting has been used for ages to reverse and cure disease. Centuries ago, physicians like Hippocrates and Paracelsus customarily prescribed prolonged fasting to treat stubborn health conditions. While it’s highly unlikely that today’s physicians would recommend fasting for any condition, most all of them have become very familiar with the med-school refrain that “the solution to pollution is dilution”. This is just one of the reasons fasting works for such a broad array of conditions; having been used to successfully treat autoimmune conditions, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Kind of makes you wonder why it isn’t included in every doctor’s training, doesn’t it?
The classical definition of a fast is the “complete abstinence from all substances except pure water, in a totally relaxed environment”. It’s important to note that while juicing has incredible benefits, it is not considered a true fast and for that reason, I will discuss it separately in an upcoming post.
True fasting lasts a minimum of three days, and MOST people (check with your doctor) can safely do this without a physician’s help. Just be sure to clear your calendar, and plan on doing very little to exert yourself. Longer-lasting fasts should only be done under a doctor’s supervision.
3-day Fast tips:
1- Ease into your fast… consuming only vegetables (and a little bit of fruit) for a 2-3 day period. Juicing is permitted.
2- Slow down. Sip on 10-12+ glasses of pure distilled water each day. If you’re feeling up to it, a 10-15 minute lazy stroll in the sunshine will do your body good. The remainder of the time can be spent reading, meditating, performing breathing exercises, and plain chilling out!
3- Ease out of your fast… consuming only vegetables (and a little bit of fruit) for a 2-3 day period. Juicing is permitted.
4- During what’s called the refeeding period… you may add raw nuts, seeds and a small amount of oils. Consume small meals until you return to your regular diet over a period of 2-3 days.
* Depending upon the reason you’ve chosen to fast, you may want to exclude common allergens like peanuts, eggs, dairy and wheat by reintroducing each of these foods one at a time per week. If there is no reaction, you may add that food back into your diet.
How fasting works to detoxify your body:
1- Initially, glycogen from the liver is quickly broken down (and depleted) for energy.
2- The body then breaks down fat stores into fatty acids for energy; small amounts of glucose are still required to fuel the brain and red blood cells.
… the brain’s huge appetite (80%) for glucose requires a quick solution. From day 2 onward, the body starts to get creative…
3a- Small amounts of glycerol are pulled from fat tissue.
3b- Some muscle tissue is then broken down to release stored glucose.
… this process is not sustainable for very long, as the body requires that
1+lbs. of muscle are broken down daily to meet its glucose requirements!
4- By day 3, the liver starts to generate tons of ketones, which compete with
glucose as an energy source. The body’s internal survival mechanism has the remarkable ability to then shift gears, and begin using only ketones for fuel/ energy.
BIG PAYOFF: It is during this stage that fatty tissue is broken down, accumulated toxins are removed, and artery-blocking debris is chipped away at phenomenal rates!
Results of a joint study (Goldhamer A, Lisle D, Parpia B, Anderson SV, Campbell TC,- The Center for Conservative Therapy and Bastyr University,-June 2001 The Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics) revealed that 174 hypertensive subjects were able to safely achieve normal blood pressure at the end of a 21-day fast. All subjects who were previously on blood pressure medication were able to discontinue medication by the end of the fast.
Autoimmune conditions/ inflammation-
In 2002, a group of doctors published (Fuhrman J, Sarter B, Calabro D July/ August 2002, vol. 8, no. 4 issue- Alternative Therapies) a study of 6 case reports in which a water-only fast of 1-3 weeks, followed by a nutrient dense vegan diet achieved remission in patients with conditions ranging from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, Lupus, and Fibromyalgaia. All patients remained symptom free months and years later, until they lost touch with the doctors; after which progress could no longer be confirmed.
In a 1982 study (Bjorntorp, P & Yang, M -American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 36: September 1982), fasted a group of rats ( L ) for a 65 hour period. The study found that the fasted rats, compared with the control group, reaped the benefits of energy conservation well after the fasting period had ended, by producing less body heat during the refeeding period. The conserved energy was then available to utilize in accumulating protein, fat, and glycogen; resulting in a FIVE-FOLD increased rate of food intake efficiency!
Bottom line: the fasted rats were able to get by on MUCH LESS food post-fast!