Fasting is often called a “water-diet” because the basic principle is to abstain from food, and drink only water for a certain period of time.
Fasting is very cleansing and regenerating on a physical level. When we fast, the body naturally rids itself of diseased tissues, excess nutrients, and accumulations of waste and toxins. No other method increases elimination through the channels of excretion as well as fasting.
How Fasting Works
When you stop feeding the body, it naturally starts to feed off itself; this process is called autolysis. First, the body will consume its reserves; the excess tissue and fat will begin to be digested. Without food being consumed, the intake of toxins is almost none. This gives the message to your body that it can start to clean out the accumulation of toxins, wastes, tumors, etc. Your body will rid itself of these by “eating” them or by pushing these accumulated toxins, fungus, and harmful bacterias that it has stored over the years to places where they can later be eliminated, once the body is ready to evacuate them.
Evacuation of the toxins or wastes is done through the main organs of elimination: the bowels, kidneys, lungs and the skin. This process of increased elimination can generate some symptoms; this is called a cleansing reaction.
The ability for the body to cleanse itself during a fast is highly efficient because the digestive energy (which is 1/3 of the body’s energy,) instead of being consumed, will be used instead to assist the elimination of toxins.
In the beginning stage, the body is mainly eliminating accumulated toxins, but when this is finished and the fast progresses, the body will begin to repair and regenerate impaired organs.
The more toxic the body, the longer the fast will have to last for you to notice a marked improvement. For instance, some sight problems may improve only after three to eight weeks of fasting, depending on the case and how long the condition has been present.
It is important to rest as much as possible during a fast! Any wasted energy during a fast will wear out the body’s reserves and reduce the efficiency of the fast. Of course, sometimes it is not possible to stop all physical activity. In this case, it is still better to have a fast with minimum activity than not to fast at all.
Who can Fast?
There are no restrictions for a short fast. The elderly and children can also fast. Of course, no one should be made to fast against their will. Many people see fasting as a challenge and enjoy the sense of increased willpower that comes with such a challenge.
Fasting before pregnancy will significantly improve the mother’s state of health, as well as the baby’s. Childbirth will be much easier, with fewer of the common pregnancy problems. It is always favorable to fast before conception, rather than after, but a pregnant woman can undergo up to two weeks of fasting without problems for the baby. In circumstances where fasting may aid the pregnancy, always seek guidance or medical supervision before beginning the fast. If the mother has any deficiency, it may increase with fasting. A breastfeeding mother may have to stop fasting, as fasting may reduce the secretion of breast milk.
The Duration of the Fast
For a shorter fast, it is good to decide on the duration before beginning the fast. The body, in its high intelligence and connection with the mind, will then know how much time it has to do the job and will make the appropriate efforts.
In acute health conditions, you can rely on the body’s high intelligence to tell you how long you should fast. When the cleansing and regenerative processes are finished, it will give you signs as to when you should have food again. Because after three to four days of fasting, hunger subsides and the stomach shrinks; the appetite will only come back when the body runs out of reserves and has finished with its cleansing process. The body will tell you itself when it is finished by a few simple signs: transparent urine (after having gone through a yellow or brownish color), the tongue becomes very pink again, (after having a stage with coating or deposits), the eyes become shining white, and there are no more foul bodily odors.
These signs, together with the return of the appetite (coming not from the throat, but from the deep belly) are signs to break the fast; after this stage, starvation starts. Ignoring these signs and continuing to fast can lead to severe damage of the body and even death.
If the fast has been too short in duration to eliminate all the toxins, increased elimination will continue after the fast. In this case, the toxins will no longer be digested inside, and they will need to come out through the organs of elimination; diarrhea, fever, or skin rashes are to be expected in such circumstances. Although the efficacy of the fast will be decreased if you break the fast too soon, no harm will be done. If in doubt, it is always safer to break the fast too soon, than too late! Remember, you can always fast again at a later date if you feel that the process was incomplete.
* * * It is not recommended that you try an extended fast (more than two weeks) without the supervision of a person who is experienced in fasting.
If a you are physically unable to maintain a strictly water fast, a fruit or juice fast is second best as fruits are the most cleansing of all the foods. Fruit fasting is very beneficial, but by comparison, less efficient than pure water fasting. This is because the body has to process the sugars in the fruits as well as any additional toxins, so the digestive energy is not as available for cleansing.
Preparing for a Fast
To prepare for a fast and avoid shocking the body, begin to reduce food intake on the days preceding the fast. Even for a short fast allow one or two days with a fruit diet before starting the fast, so that the body will understand what is going on. This will soften the transition and lessen the cleansing reaction. It is always safer and more beneficial to go step by step rather than rushing into drastic changes in your food intake.
Cleansing Reactions and Symptoms that May Occur When Fasting
During the fast, depending on your general condition, there may occur unpleasant symptoms such as headaches, fever, skin rashes, pimples, mucous production, frequent urination, increased sweating, and foul body odor. These are typical cleansing reactions and are due to the fact that the bowels, kidneys, lungs, and skin are working harder to eliminate the accumulated toxins.
To avoid or diminish these reactions, it is advised to aid the process of elimination by doing an enema on the third or fourth day of the fast, especially if there have been no bowel movements in the days prior. During a short fast, one enema is usually enough, but on a longer fast, more are needed. Listen to your body; if you have strong cleansing reactions, such as intense headaches, then most often an enema will bring relief. For any duration of fasting enemas are always helpful to reduce cleansing reactions.
If you suffer from any health condition that you want to cure with the fast, be prepared to endure increased symptoms while fasting. These symptoms will be more intense than the cleansing reactions and will look more like the actual symptoms of the disease.
Certain symptoms can also occur because of old diseases which were not cured properly, or rather, suppressed by the means of medical drugs. Every disease is actually a process that the body induces in itself to heal the disease. For example, a fever is a process which the body triggers to get rid of a virus or bacteria which can’t survive above a certain degree of body temperature. In the same way, diarrhea is a process initiated by the body to rid itself of harmful intestinal bacterias. Every time you stop these processes by taking suppressive drugs, the body does not finish its healing process, and you will most probably come across the disease again and again in the course of your life until the body can eventually deal with it completely. The recurrence of past symptoms does not always happen, but it can. Do not be afraid if during the fasting process you experience symptoms of past diseases that you thought you had cured.
Using Clay to Enhance the Effects of Fasting
If you suffer from intestinal troubles such as parasites (amoebas, giardia, etc), fungus (mycosis), yeast infection (candida), worms, or any other intestinal disorders of this kind, the best way to cure yourself is a fast. Seven days is usually enough to eliminate such intestinal problems, but, when fasting for such purposes, you have to add the healing properties of clay, and to continue the use of clay for three weeks after the fast. Use an edible form of clay such as bentonite.
One tablespoon of clay needs to be taken in a full glass of water (8oz) every day, for the entire duration of the fast. If fasting for one week, clay will be taken for a total of four weeks.
Mix the clay in a glass of water before going to bed, let it stand for the night. First thing in the morning, stir the mixture and drink it all, even the clay which remains in the bottom of the glass. You can add one tablespoon of psyllium husk to the clay mixture to absorb more toxins and promote peristalsis in the intestinal tract.
Always consume a full glass of pure water after consuming clay and psyllium. Both absorb a lot of water, and will pull water from your intestinal tract, possibly causing constipation if adequate water is not taken at the time of ingestion. Continue to drink a sufficient amount of water throughout the day to drain all the toxins which will be released in the system.
When taking clay internally, do not eat any fats for a minimum of two hours after taking the clay (this is during the three weeks after the fast).
More information on using clay internally can be found at: eytonsearth.org
Fasting and Social Interactions
When you are fasting, it is particularly good to be around other people who are fasting as well. You can share your feelings, advice and offer support to one another.
It is also good to avoid interacting too much with people who are not fasting since food is very often on the table in most social interactions and this will only add extra challenges to your process.
Another reason to limit your social interactions is that when you fast, you become quite vulnerable on an emotional level. This is because, when you fast, you become very open to all energies and thus issues which may seem normal can strike you more powerfully at this time. You will also be more receptive to the emotional issues of others, and more likely to be disturbed by disharmonious encounters.
Spiritual Benefits of Fasting
Most people fast to improve physical health, but fasting can also be a very powerful spiritual experience. When there is no more food intake, all the nadis (subtle channels of energy) become very open and free of any energetic interferences coming from food absorption. When the body is not digesting and assimilating food, the ability to absorb prana (vital energy or life force) from the environment increases. During a fast, spend time in nature: walk in the forest, swim in the sea, sunbathe, and expose your body to air.
During a fast is an excellent time to do more spiritual practice. The subtle channels are more open, and you are more able to feel the flow of energy throughout the body. The ability to perceive the chakras is heightened and your resonance with the macrocosmic planes is increased in a very significant way. In the same way, all inspiring readings, chantings, music, etc are advised at this time as you will get much more out of them when you are in this state.
How to Break a Fast
Fasting itself does not require much knowledge but breaking the fast does. This is where problems usually occur. After a long period without eating and once food starts to be consumed again, the appetite is slight. But the appetite will increase very quickly and may even get out of control in the following days.
If the fasting period lasted for several weeks, the digestive flora has disappeared and will need to be rebuilt to digest solid food again. If you lose control of the progressive diet (explained below) you can cause problems in your digestive tract. Accidents mostly happen after a fast, rarely during it. Eating incorrectly after a fast can cause indigestion, constipation, abdominal pains, gas, or headaches. To avoid such problems there are a few basic rules to follow:
Never attempt to fast for more than two weeks the first time, unless there is somebody there to assist you with your food intake after breaking the fast. The beginning stage of food intake can be called the “security period.” This time is necessary to allow the body to rebuild its bacterial flora and to avoid accidents due to overeating or eating the wrong food right after fasting.
This period should be divided into four parts:
- Fruit juices
- Watery fruits
- Fruits (bananas, papaya, mangoes,etc.)
- Fruits and raw vegetables.
Fruits are the best food to re-establish the balance in the intestinal tract. In time, when proper digestion is resumed, it is then possible to incorporate more solid food such as sprouted grains, nuts and whole grains.
The security period must be a minimum of one-quarter of the duration of the fasting period. For example: if the fast lasted for a duration of sixteen days, then the security period should be no less than four days.(1st-day fruit juices, 2nd-day watery fruits, 3rd-day fruits, etc.) If you have the time, then it will be even better if that period equals half of the duration of the fast, or even the equivalent time. The longer this period, the greater the efficiency of the cleansing process.
The Secret of the Hunzas
To understand better how much benefit one can get from regular fasting, the case of the famous Hunzas must be mentioned.
The Hunzas were discovered in the begging of the century in the remote Hunza Valley of northern Pakistan. It was found that the people in this valley lived for an average of 120 to 130 years and sometimes up to 140 years. Sickness was practically unknown to them. They had all their teeth and hair, and no had sight problems even at the age of 120. They were still able to work in the fields, run, and climb trees well over the age of 100.
Of course, the immediate reaction of the visitors was to think they were not counting the years correctly. But that argument did not stand when it was discovered that the Hunzas had children, grandchildren, etc. down to five or even six generations.
Nobody could ever explain how they could live so long when in the neighboring valleys people with almost the same diet were not living to be more than 100.
The Americans who discovered and studied the Hunzas never understood their secret, even after analyzing down to the last detail, their food, soil, water, and excrement. What was never considered in the research was a simple fact: due to altitude, climate, and the geographical situation, during winter the Hunzas were almost fasting for several months. They had very little to eat in this season, and that is where the answer lies: The famous secret was not what they ate, but what they didn’t eat! Everything the Hunzas did was examined, but without result of course, because it was not what they were doing that needed to be studied, but rather, what they were not doing.
The Americans could not understand this because, in those days, the common belief was that after ten days without food, the stomach will start to digest itself! After vain research, the Americans having spent a long time with the Hunzas decided to help these “poor people” starving in winter. Believing the Hunzas must be unhappy, the Americans decided to teach them how to boost their agriculture, and to herd animals, so they could eat meat. Before then the Hunzas were almost vegetarian because they didn’t have enough animals to eat. They also didn’t have enough cultivated crops to feed more animals.
Since that period, every generation has lost ten years of lifespan. Nowadays, the people of the Hunza Valley drink, smoke, and eat meat daily. None of them live to be over 100.
Benefits of Fasting Once per Year
Fasting is not as difficult as most people imagine, once the body and mind are used to fasting, it becomes much easier. It is usually only the first fast that is difficult. This is why the Hunzas had no problem fasting for a period of time every year.
If everyone would fast once a year sickness would practically disappear. Medical treatment and hospitals would only be used in the cases of accidents. In the rare cases where sickness did occur, a short fast would be sufficient to cure it. With the nearly complete elimination of illness, everyone could reach 100 years in good shape, not in a wheelchair! But of course, it would not help the medical profession which is big business in the world today. This is why fasting is rarely promoted as a means to regain health. At a time when society’s health costs are going sky high, it is good to know that fasting costs nothing!
“Fasting is definitely the quickest and most efficient way of recovering health. It is a fundamental and radical method, older than any other therapy. It is employed instinctively equally by humans and animals, and has been so since life was first introduced on the earth.”
~Herbert M. Shelton
Resources and Recommended Reading:
- Herbert M. Shelton, Fasting for Renewal of Life
- Herbert M. Shelton, The Science and Fine Art of Fasting
- Jay Milton Hoffman, Hunza: Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Oldest Living People
- Dr. G. T. Wrench M.D, The Wheel of Health: The Sources of Long Life and Health Among the Hunza
Photo: Africa Studio