Saturday, July 16, 2011


I've decided that I want to fast for two to three days every month or two primarily for the health benefits, but also for reasons of self discipline.  By fasting, I mean drinking only water and abstaining from all foods, even those in liquid form.  So-called "juice fasting" is a misnomer, as fasting means to abstain from; thus, juice fasting seems to imply that one is abstaining from juice when in fact one is consuming juice as the only food.  It is more appropriately called a juice diet.  While a juice diet can have some benefits, it has some drawbacks.  I will discuss those at a later time.  My point here is that fasting (taking nothing but water)  confers the greatest health benefits with the least risk, assuming that a person is not deficient in some nutrients or has a medical condition that contraindicates fasting.  I don't recommend that people undertake fasts longer than two or three days without medical supervision, as there are some complications that can arise that would require the fast to be stopped.  However, long fasts are ultimately where people gain the best and most amazing results.

I got into fasting when I was younger because of my interest in Natural Hygiene.  I read Herbert Shelton's book Fasting Can Save Your Life and was intrigued by the case histories and detailed information.  Shelton probably supervised more medical fasts than anyone else in history.  Even though some of it is medically inaccurate and out-of-date, the book has a wealth of information based on Shelton's experience.  It's a good read, as are Shelton's other books on fasting, nutrition, and health.  I did a few short fasts after reading the book, but the longest fast I ever attempted on my own was seven days when I was around 19 or 20.  I probably would have attempted a longer one, but I found it difficult to work while fasting.  This was probably a good thing, as I wasn't qualified to supervise my own fast. 

I eventually stopped fasting other than when I was sick, though I did occasionally try juice diets and the Master Cleanse to shed a few pounds here and there.  I do not recommend the Master Cleanse, and juice diets should be followed with caution.  Many people follow these for cleansing and weight loss purposes, and they are not the best solution for either.  Even fasting is not the best solution for weight loss, although it can help some.  Of course, weight management requires a change in eating when the fast is complete.  Qualified physicians who are experienced with fasting should be able to determine if it makes sense for someone to fast for weight loss. 

I resumed fasting recently after a terrible binge that I talked about in a previous post.  This time I pulled out Dr. Fuhrman's book that I skimmed many years ago,  Fasting and Eating for Health: A Medical Doctor's Program for Conquering Disease, since I've grown to really respect his advice and am participating in his nutritarian program.  This book explains fasting from a medical perspective and discusses when, how, and why fasting should be used.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.  Dr. Fuhrman generally recommends longer, supervised fasts when needed but has also expressed that short fasts can have benefits if not done too frequently.  Once every month or two is okay, but every week would be excessive as the body needs to rebuild some after a fast.
Fasting helped me to get on track with my eating when I last fasted on Memorial Day, and I have adhered strictly to my nutritarian regimen with almost no exceptions.  I've eaten salad, greens, beans, nuts/seeds, fruits, and veggies and said no to all the vegan junk food and have avoided oils and most salt on all but a few occasions.  I feel like my withdrawal from the crap was hastened during my last fast, which helped to make the transition easier.

This weekend I'm fasting to give my digestive system a rest (part of the reason fasting is so beneficial) and to keep myself in check.  I just finished the second day of my fast, and this one was much easier.  I even continued walking for exercise during this fast.  I will likely resume eating tomorrow morning, unless I feel that one more day would greatly benefit me.

So what do I really hope to gain?  Mainly the benefits of caloric restriction (slower aging, less chance of degenerative disease), some self discipline, and maybe, just maybe, the toughness of one of my favorite TV characters:

7/12: 65 mins walking in the neighborhood
7/13: 65 mins walking in the neighborhood
7/14: 65 mins walking Town Lake
7/15: 70 mins walking in the neighborhood
7/16: 70 mins walking Town Lake

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