At the beginning, fasting achieves a physiological rest to the digestive, assimilative, and protective organs, probably the first time for most people. Next, the bodily energy normally used to digest and assimilate food is now used to purify our body. The purification process is called autolysis, or auto-digestions in which our body draws energy by decomposing and burning unused substances and metabolic wastes with the help of bacteria and enzymes. Waste materials to be decomposed, reused, and eliminated include fat and calcium deposits, atheromatous plaque, morbid accumulations, abnormal cells, dead and dying cells, damaged tissue, and various kinds of neoplasm (Burroughs, 1976; Ehret, 1966; fasting.com). This is the single most important phase of fasting: breaking down superfluous tissue and mobilizing the toxins from their storage areas. Non water-soluble chemicals are also transformed into relatively polar substances and then quickly excreted through enhanced cleansing ability of all the eliminative organs (Gormley, 2000).
During the auto-digestion process, because waste materials, chemicals, and toxins begin to circulate in blood stream and throughout the body, they can cause headache, nausea, and some other physical symptoms. At this point, many people quit fasting and start to eat. They blame fasting as the cause of their uncomfortable conditions. However, it is well-known fact that these symptoms will go away in few days as the elimination process progresses and fasters feel better and even stronger. Auto-digestion stops when they start to eat (Bragg & Bragg, 1999; Ehret, 1966).
One caution should be made here. Those who have been seriously ill or on heavy medications need to fast only under medical supervision because a prolonged fast can be dangerous because of the large amount of toxic substances they have to eliminate (Bragg & Bragg, 1999; Burroughs, 1976; Ehret, 1966). “Fasters who died from a long fast did not die from lack of food, but actually suffocated in and with their own wastes” (Ehret, 1966, p47). All fasters must educate themselves to know what physical conditions occur during a fast.
Health Benefits of Fasting
The process of decomposing and eliminating waste toxic materials can improve or even cure various diseases: cardiovascular and circulatory diseases, diseases of digestive system, diseases of the locomotor system including rheumatism, respiratory system diseases including asthma, and the early stage of malignant diseases like cancer (Bragg & Bragg, 1999; Burroughs, 1976; Ehret, 1966; fasting.com). Stanley Burroughs (1976) says,
All mucus diseases such as colds, flu, asthma, hay fever, sinus and bronchial troubles are rapidly dissolved and eliminated from the body, leaving the user free from the varied allergies which cause difficult breathing and clogging of the sinus cavities…. The types of diseases that are a result of calcium deposits in the joints, muscles, cells, and glands are readily dissolved and removed from the body. Cholesterol deposits in the arteries and veins also respond to the cleansing power of fasting (p13).
Fasting can be used to normalize our weight. As our common sense says, weight reduction is achieved by fasting, along with other health benefits. There are many diet programs using an unbalanced diet that can be dangerous for our health. Carefully planned fasting is a natural way to normalize our body weight. Fasting dissolves all unnecessary and unnatural fat deposits all over the body and the body is relieved of a tremendous burden. When we fast for a few days, the stomach shrinks to its normal size and the hungry feeling gradually fades away. When we go back to the normal diet, we won’t have exaggerated hunger and won’t overeat (Bragg & Bragg, 1999).
Surprisingly enough, fasting programs can be used for underweight people who cannot gain weight even if they stuff themselves with many fattening foods. The cause of both overweight and underweight is a nutritionally unbalanced diet. “People are not nourished in proportion to amount of food they eat, but in proportion to how much they digest and assimilate” (Bragg & Bragg, 1999, p120). Thus what underweight people need is exactly what overweight people need – revitalizing the digestive and assimilative systems to work efficiently. As metabolism is improved through fasting, the body recuperates the capability to assimilate proteins, fats, carbohydrates, starches, sugars, minerals, vitamins and all other essential nutrients necessary (Bragg & Bragg, 1999).
The human body uses the skin as a secondary eliminative organ. Because conditions such as boils, abscesses, carbuncles, and pimples are the body’s effort to eliminate poisons, skin problems also disappear as the rest of the body is cleansed (Burroughs, 1976). Baldness may be cured or at least prevented by pure blood that supplies the correct nourishments of the hair bed. After all the tonics have failed, we must recognize that the cause of baldness is not external and cannot be cured or prevented externally (Ehret, 1966).
Finally, fasting can help people to break addictions to harmful substances: tobacco, drugs, alcohol, tea, coffee, and other habit-forming beverages. Fasting leads our body to get rid of stored poisons, including addictive substances, and we lose our craving and tolerance for them. Thus after fasting we will feel nausea or sometimes have attacks of vomiting, “nature’s purge” if taking addictive substances. (Bragg & Bragg, 1999; Burroughs, 1976). After I fasted for two weeks, I became very weak for alcohol. A bottle of beer was strong enough to make me very drunk. I imagine that smokers can quit or at least reduce the number of cigarettes if they go though fasting.
Sources: Bragg, C. P., & Bragg, P. (1999). The Miracle of Fasting. Santa Barbara, CA: Health Science.; Burroughs, S. (1976). The Master Cleanser (14th ed.) Moana Lane Reno, NV: Burroughs Books; Duncan, L. (1996). Internal detoxification. Total Health, 18, 42-44; Ehret, A. (1966). Rational Fasting for Physical, Mental and Spiritual Rejuvenation (14th ed.). New York: Ehret Literature; Galland, L. (1998). The four pillars of healing. Total Health, 20, 23-24; Gormley, J. J. (2000). Garlic and detox. Better Nutrition for Today’s Living, 62, 16.; Jensen, B. & Bell, S. (1998). Tissue Cleansing Through Bowel Management. Tokyo, Japan: Tyuo-Syuppan.; Kim, K. (1998). Fast track. Village Voice, 43, 135-136.; Kita, J. & Laliberte, R. (1995). Mr. Clean. Men’s Health, 10, 66-68. ; Walsh, T. (1997). Debunking the detoxification theory. Nutrition Forum, 16, 1-2.; Wolf, G. (1995). The effect of fasting and fructose and glucose infusion on gluconeogenesis and triose phosphate flux in rats in vivo. Nutrition Reviews, 53, 299-301.; Zucker, M. (1998). The lowdown on colon care. Vegetarian Times, 247, 82-83; fasting.com — an official web site of Fasting Center International, Inc.