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November 18, 2017  |  Login
Fasting
By James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.
 
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Fasting

Fasting has been used for thousands of years as a medical therapy to help the body detoxify and rejuvenate from all kinds of health problems. It is defined as voluntarily not eating food for various lengths of time. Many of the world's oldest systems of health relied upon fasting for healing and as a way to prevent disease. The father of Western medicine, Hippocrates, found that fasting helped the body to heal itself, and he extolled its tremendous healing potential in his writings. Most world religions have used fasting as a way to improve physical and spiritual clarity. The Bible makes frequent references to the benefits of fasting, combined with prayer. Currently, fasting is becoming a more accepted method of detoxification for health practitioners throughout North America.

How Does Fasting Work?

The primary way in which fasting is beneficial is by simply giving the body time to rest. Specifically, the digestive organs are given a break from digesting food. A tremendous amount of energy is required for digestion, and the body can use this "saved" energy for healing and regeneration. In addition, a time of fasting prevents more toxic substances from entering the body and simultaneously allows for the expulsion of toxins. This is particularly true for the liver, which has to break down and metabolize all the toxic substances that enter the body. In addition, the immune system is also given a break from dealing with toxins from our food and water supply, as well as from our environment.

During the first day of a fast, the body burns stored sugar, known as glycogen. After this, the body begins to burn fat for fuel. There is one exception, though, and this occurs with the brain, which requires blood sugar. During the second day of a fast, some muscle tissue may be broken down into amino acids, which are converted by the liver into glucose to feed the brain. During the second to third day of fasting, the body goes into what is called ketosis. During this state, the liver converts stored fat into chemicals called ketones, which can be used by the brain, the heart, and the muscles for energy. Generally, during this period of time, people lose their hunger pains and have increased energy and a heightened sense of awareness, which often includes clarity of the mind and the spirit. People may lose up to two pounds a day during this stage. As fat is increasingly burned for fuel, stored toxins (such as pesticides
and other chemicals) are released into the bloodstream, to be metabolized by the liver and the kidneys. (Bear in mind, however, we do not advocate fasting as a weight loss protocol.)

 
 
 
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