Fasting refers to complete abstinence from food for a short or long period for a specific purpose.
The word is derived from the old English, ‘feastan’ which means to fast, observe, be strict.
Fasting is nature’s oldest, most effective and yet least expensive method of treating disease. It is recognized as the cornerstone of natural healing. The practice of fasting is one of the most ancient customs. It is followed in almost every religion.
The Mohammedan, the Buddhists, the Hindus and many others have their periods of strict fasting. The saints of medieval times laid great stress on this method. Fasting for disease was advocated by the school of natural philosopher, Asclepiades, more than two thousand years ago. Throughout medical history, it has been regarded as one of the most dependable curative methods. Hippocrates, Galen, Paracelsus and many other great authorities on medicine prescribed it. Many noted modern physicians have successfully employed this system of healing in the treatment of numerous diseases.
A we’ve discussed before in the practice of Naturopathy, the common cause of all diseases is believed to be the accumulation of waste and poisonous matter in the body which results from overeating. The majority of persons eat too much and follow sedentary occupations which do not permit sufficient and proper exercise for utilization of this large quantity of food. This surplus overburdens the digestive and assimulative organs and clogs up the system with impurities or poisons. Digestion and elimination become slow and the functional activity of the whole system becomes sluggish.
Naturopaths believe the onset of disease is merely the process of ridding the system of these impurities. And that every disease can be healed by only one remedy – by doing just the opposite of what causes it, that is,by reducing the food intake or fasting.
By depriving the body of food for a time ,the organs of elimination such as the bowels, kidneys, skin and lungs are given opportunity to expel, unhampered, the overload of accumulated waste from the system. Thus, fasting is merely the process of purification and an effective and quick method of cure. It assists nature in her continuous effort to expel foreign matter and disease producing waste from the body, thereby correcting the faults of improper diet and wrong living. It also leads to regeneration of the blood as well as the repair and regeneration of the various tissues of the body.
The duration of the fast depends upon the age of the the person fasting, the nature of the disease and the amount and type of drugs previously used. The duration is important, because long periods of fasting can be dangerous if undertaken without competent professional guidance. It is, therefore, advisable to undertake a series of short fasts of two to three days and gradually increase the duration of each succeeding fast by a day or so. The period, however, should not exceed a week of total fasting at a time. This will enable the chronically sick body to gradually and slowly eliminate toxic waste matter without seriously affecting the natural functioning of the body. A correct mode of living and a balanced diet after the fast will restore vigor and vitality to the individual.
Fasting is highly beneficial in practically all kinds of stomach and intestinal disorders and in serious conditions of the kidneys and liver. It is a miracle cure for eczema and other skin diseases and offers the only hope of permanent cure in many cases. The various nervous disorders also respond favorably to this mode of treatment.
Fasting should, however, not be restored to in every illness. In most cases, however , no harm will come to the person who is fasting, provided they rest, and are under proper professional care.
The best, safest and most effective method of fasting is juice fasting. Although the old classic form of fasting was a pure water fast, most of the leading authorities on fasting today agree that juice fasting is far superior to a water fast. During fasting the body burns up and excretes huge amounts of accumulated wastes. We can help this cleansing process by drinking alkaline juice instead of water while fasting. Elimination of uric acid and other inorganic acids will be accelerated. Vitamins, minerals, enzymes and trace elements in fresh, raw vegetable and fruit juices are extremely beneficial in normalizing all the body processes. They supply essential elements for the body’s own healing activity and cell regeneration and thus speeding the recovery. All juices should be prepared from fresh fruit immediately before drinking. Canned or frozen juices should not be used.
When fasting, you should get as much fresh air as possible and should drink plain water when thirsty. Fresh juices may be diluted with pure water. The total liquid intake should be approximately six to eight glasses.
A lot of energy is spent during the fast in the process of eliminating accumulated poisons and toxic waste materials. Its important that you get as much physical rest and mental relaxation as possible during the fast.
The simple rule is to stop eating until the appetite returns or until one feels completely well.
There are several benefit of fasting. During a long fast, the body feeds upon its reserves. Being deprived of needed nutrients, particularly of protein and fats, it will burn and digest its own tissues by the process of autolysis or self-digestion. But it will not do so indiscriminately. The body will first decompose and burn those cells and tissues which are diseased, damaged, aged or dead. The essential tissues and vital organs, the glands, the nervous system and the brain are not damaged or digested in fasting. Here lies the secret of the effectiveness of fasting as a curative and rejuvenation method. During fasting, the building of new and healthy cells are sped up by the amino acids released from the diseased cells. The capacity of the eliminative organs, that is, lungs, liver, kidneys and the skin is greatly increased as they are relieved of the usual burden of digesting food and eliminating the resultant wastes. They are, therefore, able to quickly expel old accumulated wastes and toxins.
Fasting affords a physiological rest to the digestive, assimilative and protective organs. As a result, the digestion of food and the utilization of nutrients is greatly improved after fasting. The fast also exerts a normalizing, stabilizing and rejuvenating effect on all the vital physiological, nervous and mental functions.
Breaking of Fast
The success of the fast depends largely on hos it is broken. This is the most significant phase.
The main rules for breaking the fast are : do not overeat, eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly ; and take several days for the gradual change to the normal diet. If the transition to eating solid foods is carefully planned, there will be no discomfort or damage. You should also continue to rest during the transition period. The right food after a fast is as important for proper results as the fast itself.