Fasting to enhance your overall health is an ancient practice, and it was recommended by Socrates, Plato and Hippocrates. Fasting for a prescribed period also has a rich spiritual tradition and while on a far less profound level assorted fasts or "detox and cleanse programs" are popular in certain alternative health care circles. It can be a controversial issue to some so let’s try to see what it is all about.
"Man lives on one quarter of what he eats. On the other three quarters lives his doctor."- Translated Inscription from an Egyptian Pyramid 3800 B.C.
"Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food. But to eat when you are sick, is to feed your sickness."-- Hippocrates, MD, 460-377 B.C.
"Fasting is the greatest remedy, the physician within." -- Paracelsus, 15th century physician
"Instead of medicine, fast for a day." -- Plutarch, Greek Philosopher
Fasting Your Way To Health, by Lee Bueno-Aquer, is a book written by a woman who was given a death sentence by her doctors and she refused their medications and turned to fasting and God instead. She cured herself of vascular rheumatoid arthritis, which she was told was incurable. Lee Bueno-Aguer found that God had given her a better prescription "fasting and prayer" to regain her health.
In the book, The Miracle of Fasting by Paul Bragg, N.D., he bluntly stated that it is ourselves that are to blame for our aches and pains. He makes it clear that symptoms are nothing other than Mother Nature’s way of telling us we need to make a change.
In that same book he also stated, "Poisons start to collect in various parts of the body causing you illness, aches and pains. These are Mother Nature's flashing warning signals that you are not living the healthy lifestyle that She and God intended for your body! Perhaps you blame everything and everybody for your problems, instead of analyzing your lifestyle habits for the real causes!"
Paul Bragg cured himself from tuberculosis. Throughout Paul Bragg's life he went on to help literally thousands of others reverse their so-called incurable diseases.
Isn't it amazing that both Lee Bueno Aquer and Paul Bragg, even though they had completely different diseases, were completely healed by virtually the same methods.
ENERGY INCREASED THROUGH DETOXIFICATION
"Fasting is the single greatest healing therapy I know along with detoxification, I believe it is the missing link in Western nutrition," as stated by Elson Haas, MD, a specialist in family medicine, nutrition and detoxification and author of The New Detox Diet (Celestial Arts). Dr. Haas is founder and director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin, an integrated health care facility located in San Rafael, California. Dr. Haas also says these practices help people feel much more vital, creative and very open to emotional and spiritual energies and changes.
The most stringent, said Dr. Haas, is the "water fast," which is exactly what it sounds like: no food, no juice, nothing but water and he doesn't recommend it. More than a day may in fact prove dangerous, though some spiritual disciplines continue to use it.
Safer and more common is to diet by limiting yourself to the juices of fresh fruit and vegetables (especially green, organic vegetables), as well as herbal teas. This regimen has been popularized as calorie restriction and liquid-only diets. "Fresh juices are easily digested so the nutrients they supply are quickly absorbed," he explained. "This kind of fast stimulates the body to clear wastes. Juice fasting is safer than water fasting, since it supports the body nutritionally while cleansing." Juice fasting also provides the necessary electrolytes needed to sustain life. Water fasts are dangerous in part because they dilute the body’s electrolytes and can cause sudden shock and even result in death.
MICE ON DETOX DIETS
Where previous animal studies have shown that calorie restriction boosts longevity, a recent series of research studies adds a bit of additional weight to the health claims by fasting advocates. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley tested different kinds of fasts on mice, alternating between fast days and the non-fast ("feast") days, when they could eat as much as they wanted.
According to lead researcher Krista Varady certain fasting male mice showed reduced cell proliferation rates, including prostate cell proliferation, and reduced insulin-like growth factor IGF-1, which has been linked to various forms of cancer, including breast and prostate cancers.
There were four groups of mice, including a control group. One group was given nothing but water on alternate days... a second group got 50% of their normal caloric intake... and a third group ate 25% of their usual calories and the control group ate normally. Benefits correlated to fasting, with the most notably reduced cell proliferation rate seen in the most restricted which were the water-fasters. But since all three test groups showed some reduction over four weeks, Dr. Varady concluded that "the research showed that you can consume about 25% of your food on alternate days or about one meal a day and still get some benefit."
Dr. Varady's fasting mice did not eat any special foods on their calorie-reduced days but humans on a "detox" program should and usually do eat special cleansing foods, Dr. Haas emphasizes. Like most other health professionals, Dr. Haas starts a detox plan by having his patients eliminate, sugar nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and chemicals such as artificial sweeteners (he calls it the "SNACC" program). It would be good to eventually eliminate these things completely.
After a week of this, he suggests following a simple diet consisting of one piece of fruit, one daily bowl (about a half-cup dry) of cooked whole grains (millet, brown rice, amaranth, quinoa or oatmeal), plus two to four heaping bowls of steamed vegetables eaten throughout the day and he calls this the "Detox Diet." "People who are fatigued or just feel they need protein can add three or four ounces of fish, poultry or beans without any reduction of benefits," he noted. This phase typically lasts a week or even two, and then people may slowly begin to add back more of their normal daily foods.
Other kinds of detox programs are variations of a juice fast, often involving a mix of vegetable juices and fruit juice smoothies, with optionally added protein powder. "Adding protein powder to your smoothies is especially important for those who don't want to lose weight, for athletes who don't want to lose muscle mass and for anyone with hypoglycemia or low blood sugar issues," Dr. Haas said. It's also okay to use milk made from rice, almonds or oats as a base for your smoothie, instead of fruit juice.
This is especially important to diabetics. Dr. Haas' book features a basic formula for smoothies -- one cup of liquid plus one cup of fresh or frozen fruit, plus whatever supplements you want or need to add, including ground flaxseed, wheat germ or fish oil. Also, he says he often adds green powders with grasses. I use a supergreen drink sweetened with stevia and it tastes delicious.
A paper was presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando that seems to add further validity to the benefits of fasting. Researchers examined the heart X-rays (called angiograms) of more than 4,000 male and female patients who participated in an ongoing study from 1994 through 2002, called the Intermountain Heart Collaborative Study. They found that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon faith) were significantly less likely to have coronary artery disease.
Researchers have long known that Mormons are less likely to die of heart disease than the general population, but that's generally been attributed to the fact that they don't smoke. In this study, however, researchers controlled for the smoking factor and still found less coronary heart disease among Mormons. They devised a questionnaire to identify other healthy habits among the subjects and found that fasting was the strongest predictor of lower risk for heart disease. Mormons traditionally fast at least one day a month as part of their religion.
Fasting for the purpose of detoxifying is not without its risks and should never be undertaken without medical supervision. This recommendation becomes all the more important as health challenges become more complex or profound. For instance, naturopathic physician Sonja Pettersen, NMD, states that people who have been exposed to extremely toxic chemicals such as Agent Orange, for example, in Vietnam War veterans, may encounter difficulties with stringent detoxification since toxins remain stored in fat until they are pulled out by such a program. "These should only be released under medical supervision," she warned. She also cautions that fasting is not appropriate for people with insulin-dependent diabetes, since it is so critical to keep blood sugar even.
There are definite benefits to incorporating some principles of a restricted diet into your daily life especially eliminating all sugar nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and chemicals such as artificial sweeteners. Strict and structured regimens are usually unnecessary, since maintaining a healthy system is really as simple as merely cutting back on a regular basis. Just try reducing your caloric intake every other day or even for a week or so and it may allow your body to unburden itself a bit. The water-only and juice-only regimens should not be instituted unless medically necessary and supervised.
Because fasting can be a real challenge, whether in the form of calorie restriction or for detoxifying and cleansing, it represents such a dramatic change from the way most of us eat. Best advice: Try it for a day or so and work up to a longer period. In some people, especially those who are extremely ill, detoxification can be intense and it may temporarily increase symptoms of sickness and it can overload the liver and kidneys. But it can also be immediately helpful and uplifting.
Everyone should seek a doctor’s permission to even undergo a short 1- to 3-day, water-only fast, and to seek professional supervision for any prolonged water-only fasting you do.
To read about detoxing and cleansing Click Here
Elson M. Haas, MD, a specialist in family medicine, nutrition and detoxification and author of The New Detox Diet (Celestial Arts).
Krista Varady, PhD, a research associate in the department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology, University of California at Berkeley.
Sonja Pettersen, NMD, a naturopathic physician, Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Miracle of Fasting - Paul Bragg, ND
Fasting Can Save Your Life - Dr. Herbert Shelton
Fast Your Way To Health - Lee Bueno Aquer
Essential Natural Hygiene Course - Dr. Robert Sniadach
The Mucusless Diet Healing System - Professor Arnold Ehret
Rational Fasting - Professor Arnold Ehret
Fasting Can Save Your Life - Dr. Herbert Shelton MD
Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat
(this should be a mandatory read for all who eat meat) - Howard Lyman
Written by Ben Franklin
"Eat to live, not live to eat."
"Many dishes, many diseases."
"To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals."
"Dine with little, sup with less: do better still, sleep supperless."
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