There are many ways
of living that impact health, both positively and negatively. If you
are looking to embrace a way of living that allows robust health to
flourish, and one that gives you the BEST odds of avoiding serious illness,
then consider how Natural Hygiene looks at health restoration and maintenance.
One of the tenets
of living healthfully is treating the body well. And because of prior
living habits, sometimes fasting can help the body restore lost health.
But just as with diet, there is a healthiest way to fast; and there are
times when extended water-only fasting can do more harm than good.
from the book
The Raw Food Diet and Other Healthy Habits
Your Questions Answered
by Don Bennett, DAS
Chapter 11. Fasting
your position on fasting for healing purposes? Would you recommend
that I do a cleanse before transitioning to a 100% raw diet to help
get out all the backed up nastiness?"
A: There are
two kinds of fasting: body initiated and intentional. I am a firm
believer in respecting the body initiated fast. This is when your
body does not want you to eat. You know that if you are running
a 104 fever and you eat something (even though you aren't hungry),
your body will toss it back out because it doesn't want to stop
what it's doing (an intensive effort at dealing with a pathogen)
to instead do some digestion (a very energy intensive process that
robs energy from the healing process). This scenario is obvious.
But many people are always eating ahead of hunger, either thinking
that when their stomach growls this is a sign of hunger (which it
isn't), or are eating on a schedule, or are eating X number of calories
which necessitates eating even when not hungry. True hunger is felt
in the same area of the body as thirst; in the upper chest / throat
area. Thirst has an immediacy to it, and is not what you
would describe as a pleasant feeling. Hunger on the other hand is
a pleasant feeling, subtle but pleasant, and, like thirst, it makes
no noise, and no one can feel it if they were to place their hand
on your body (as they could when your stomach is grumbling). Stomach
noises are not hunger; they are either the stomach doing some house
cleaning or latent indigestion.
Intentional fasts are done, well, intentionally,
either because someone feels it would be helpful, or because a fasting
practitioner sold you on the idea of fasting, or because it's Tuesday
and the person fasts every Tuesday (or once a month, or for three
days four times a year, etc). There is nothing that coincides, physiologically,
with a Tuesday. And even though the earth does go around the sun
once every 365 days, the body has no digestive cleansing cycle that
coincides with that regardless of what math you use. So the "fast
every xxx" is something humans thought up and it has no correlation
with the human body's needs, nor does it respect what the body wants.
That said, for many people who have
been eating a non-human diet, it would certainly give the body a
break by not eating for a few days. But understand this, if the
body wasn't trying to get you to fast, and you stop eating, the
body assumes that food has become scarce and will accordingly "dial
you down", meaning after a few days of no eating, your metabolism
will shift into "sparing/conservation mode", which is
why fasting is not a good way to lose weight. But many people,
if they waited for true hunger, would find that it doesn't come,
and this means that your body has probably been trying to get you
to fast for a long time! So my test as to whether or not someone
should intentionally fast is to wait until you feel true hunger
to eat (as described above). If you get truly hungry, then your
body is not looking to fast at this time, and I'm of the opinion
that you shouldn't. But if true hunger doesn't appear, consider
not eating until it does (unless this goes on too long, and you
can't do a lengthy therapeutic fast at this time or you can't do
it under supervision). One caveat to this test: the body wants food
for two reasons: fuel and nutrition. A long time ago, in our biological
"eco-niche" when we ate to satisfy our caloric needs,
we got enough of all the nutrients our body required for optimal
functioning. Not so today because of where our food comes from (an
industry that does not grow for nutritional content). So what do
you think happens if you've eaten enough to fulfill your caloric
needs but not your nutritional needs? You'll still want to
eat. Not for fuel, but in an effort to keep the nutritional insufficiency
from becoming a health harming deficiency.
But what if the body also wants you
to stop eating for a while to free up vital nerve energy for some
long overdue healing to keep something that's currently semi-serious
from becoming something serious? The body is caught between the
proverbial rock and a hard place. Damned if it does and damned if
it doesn't. Not a good place to be. This is why I highly recommend
eating a diet that supplies both the foods the body is adapted to
eat and the nutrition the body requires for optimal functioning...
and when the foods you're buying can't do both, you've got to step
in, step up, and do something about it if you want optimal health.
So, eating this way can allow the body to request a water fast when
it wants to without making some things worse.
What most people should be doing, and
what would be of a huge benefit, is to simply make sure they are
not overeating, which wastes bodily resources and nerve energy.
The best way to ensure this is to eat nutrient-packed food (uncooked),
eaten as simply as possible, and to pay attention as you eat so
you can "hear" when your body says "enough",
and then stop eating at that point even if there is still food left
on your plate or you're only half way through the apple or banana
or avocado (especially an avocado). And what I mean by "eating
simply" is: eat mono meals (a meal of just one item); if eating
more than one item at a meal, eat "sequentially" meaning
eat the higher water content foods first then wait a bit before
eating the other foods that have a lower water content; and don't
eat a meal that contains foods that don't combine well in the stomach
(known as "food miscombining", more commonly called "food
combining" which I feel is a confusing term because it can
suggest that you should combine certain foods, which is incorrect).
NOTE: As you transition to the healthiest
of diets you may lose weight and become underweight for a while.
This is normal, and there are good reasons for this. Just know that
the weight will come back without you having to "eat more"
or to eat more calorically dense food that is part of an unhealthy
I started eating a healthy diet (healthiest diet), and started getting
more sleep, and doing some rebounding, I found that I lost my appetite
I just didn't feel like eating. I'm thinking of respecting this,
but was curious why this would happen."
A: When someone
does a 180 from a typical cooked animal and grain based diet to
an uncooked fruit and leafy greens diet, it is a major change for
the body, but in a good way. Look at it from the body's perspective:
All of a sudden you've found and are now eating the foods the body
is designed to eat instead of the nutritionally lacking, irritating
food that caused the body to jump through hoops to keep itself in
balance, and required a lot of nervous system energy (nerve energy)
Keep in mind that the body knows what's
wrong with it at any given moment, and is always trying to keep
disease from getting out of hand (where it threatens your life).
So let's say your body knows that it's got some catching up to do
in the disease-resolution department, and it knows there's a lot
of housecleaning it got behind in too. When you free up nerve energy
for those tasks by eating a less nerve energy intensive and more
nutritious diet, your body will shift into high gear in an attempt
to get ahead of any as of yet undiagnosed disease. When this happens,
you can feel worse before you feel better. And what can also happen
is you can lose your appetite completely. One reason for this is
because the body has some repair work to do on the digestion system,
and knows that with no food coming in, it'll be easier to fix things,
and with no digestion to do, there will be even more nerve energy
to work with, which will make the repair work more "robust".
And even in the case of a tumor that wouldn't be detectable for
another 15 years, the body knows it's there, and with its improved
vitality plus no digestion going on, it can now really deal with
that tumor like never before. So for maximum effectiveness, your
body could take away your appetite for a time. This is called "body
initiated" fasting (assuming you obey your body and don't eat),
as opposed to "intentional" fasting where you decide to
stop eating based on what is usually something arbitrary like a
day of the week, or the seasons.
But if (water only) fasting is going
to go on for more than a week and become truly therapeutic fasting,
this should be done under the supervision of someone practiced in
the science and art of fasting. Why? Normally, when a healthy person
becomes ill, they will lose their appetite until their body resolves
the issue, at which time their appetite will return. The problem
with modern humans is that some are already so ill, sub-clinically
and clinically (undiagnosable and diagnosable), that when they do
a fast, they aren't capable of fasting long enough for healing to
be completed so that hunger can return. This is why very unhealthy
people can't use the criteria "fast until hunger returns"
to know when to break the fast. It may seem strange that the body
can't let you know when fasting must stop due to the inability to
fast longer, but millions of years ago, people couldn't get so unhealthy
that they couldn't heal within the time frame that the body was
able to fast, so our bodies didn't need that mechanism; fasting
would normally never need to go on for more than a week or two,
and we could certainly "last" that long. So evidently
the body is only programmed with
"more nerve energy = better
recovery from serious conditions"
"fasting = more nerve energy"
This is why, for some people, a therapeutic
fast must be done more than once for the health issue(s) to fully
resolve, and certainly the first of those fasts must be stopped
prematurely because the body has used up all available carbs and
fat for fuel and starts using protein, which is the clinical definition
of starvation. And this is when a fasting practitioner will stop
the fast whether the healing is finished or not.
there ever a reason to not do water fasting?"
A: If your body
is handicapped with any dietary nutritional insufficiencies and
especially deficiencies, a water-only fast will obviously deepen
the condition. And if one or more nutritional insufficiencies/deficiencies
are a contributing factor to the ill-health condition you're trying
to resolve, water fasting may help in some ways but hurt in others.
This is where "nutritionally supported fasting" can help.
This does not mean a calorically restricted diet, but a water fast
done with the inclusion of "green juices" which may be
nutritionally enhanced depending on the quality of the greens used.
Optimally, tests for certain "problematic" nutrients should
be done, and any insufficiencies/deficiencies corrected, before
fasting. If fasting doesn't help, or makes matters worse, it's likely
that nutritional insufficiencies were the problem, and not a malabsorption
issue, which can be helped by fasting. Unfortunately, some
fasting practitioners do not offer nutritionally supported fasting,
and some will only if asked to.
Where to do an extended water-only
Most people who go to a fasting clinic/center
go because they are dealing with a condition of ill-health. History
has demonstrated that some fasting practitioners do not do a good
job of screening their prospective clients and declining to take
on certain people for an extended water-only fast. Does the profit
motive play a role in this? That's for others to contemplate. But
the fact is that there have been people who shouldn't have been
fasted because there are contraindications to fasting for people
in certain conditions. And obviously, if you have nutrient deficiencies
caused by a dietary insufficiency of certain nutrients, and this
is a contributing factor to your ill-health condition, a lengthy
fast would be contraindicated until you resolve this issue (because
fasting obviously doesn't affect the nutritional quality of the
foods you're buying).
Then there is the issue of safety.
If you're going to a hospital to have surgery, do you want a surgeon
who graduated in the top of his class, or a surgeon who was at the
bottom of the list and who doesn't have the best record of successes?
That answer is obvious. And the same vetting should take place for
any health practitioner whose services you intend on using, because
your health is your most valuable commodity. Do not rely solely
on a fasting center's promo material. Do not just go by the positive
testimonials on their website (because they don't post the "fails").
And personally, I wouldn't trust any self-promotional material from
the owner of a fasting center/clinic. Do your due diligence. Why?
If you are going into an extended water-only fast and you are doing
so with a condition of ill-health, there exists the possibility
of complications and for things to go downhill, and to do so very
quickly. And while this is certainly the exception and not the rule,
if it does happen, say what you will about the medical
industry's method of dealing with degenerative disease, but their
emergency (life-saving) care is tops and is good to have on hand
should something go not as expected.
So it would be good to be aware that,
just like an auto repair shop, there are good, safe
fasting clinics/centers, and there are ones who I would describe
as "second-rate" because they are run as a "profits-before-people"
business. So taking the time to vet a place you're thinking of attending
is a worthwhile investment of your time. And if you come upon conflicting
information regarding fasting clinics/centers or fasting practitioners,
be glad, because this is valuable information for the vetting process.
To view an example of a negative fasting
experience, click here.
Why would someone
pay to fast when it's free?
And here's a good answer. Fasting for a few days can easily be done
by almost anyone at home, with no supervision. But an extended fast
should be done with supervision because for many people, they can
have so much healing that the body needs to do that it can't be
done during one fast (the person will run out of fat resources for
fuel before the body can "fast to completion"). This scenario
of not being able to fast to completion is not normal. We're meant
to be able to fast to completion whenever the body wants to fast.
So when we can't, the body just keeps on fasting because there is
no natural, evolutionary mechanism to stop the fast when all available
fat resources have been exhausted, so then the body turns to protein
(from muscle tissue for fuel), and in an unsupervised setting, the
person wouldn't know when starvation mode starts (and yes, this
is the clinical definition of starvation, when the body must now
use protein for fuel). So in a supervised setting, blood work can
be done to know when starvation starts, and the fast is then stopped
(even though the body would have liked to do more fasting). After
about 6 months, the person can do another extended fast, and hopefully
fast to completion this time.
Explaining Fasting to the Lay-Person
When a first-rate fasting clinic that does medically
supervised fasting was interviewed
by a local TV station, the director explained the benefit of
fasting by saying that it was like a "computer reboot for the
body." Would it have been over the average viewer's head to
explain that the digestion of food is a very energy intensive process
the most energy demanding process we have and not
eating allows all that energy to be used for healing instead, and
this accounts for the improved healing that would not take place
when eating three meals a day, especially meals of the hard to digest
foods that many people eat. The analogy to a computer reboot sounds
nice, but is not really accurate, and since it sounds very non-scientific,
it's something a naysayer can mention when trying to think of things
to say against doing an extended water-only fast, but a skeptical
person might be less skeptical if they were given the more accurate
note about "dry" fasting
I am of the
considered opinion that when you are fasting, and you get thirsty,
if you refuse to drink some water because you are doing a "dry
fast" which many consider to mean "no water at all even
if thirsty", then you are going against your body's wishes,
and this is never good. When you disrespect your body in favor of
something you believe to be good for the body, no good will come
of dry fasting say that water is not needed when fasting because
you access water from the body fat that you lose. But if this were
the case, you wouldn't get thirsty, and people do get thirsty when
fasting. Plus, when fasting, you use about one-third of a pound
of fat per day (for fuel). And since fat is about 5% water, this
fat loss would equate to about a quarter of an ounce of water per
day. Since we should be getting about 40-60 ounces of liquid a day
(optimally from your food, optimally from fruit), a quarter of an
ounce of water doesn't sound like it's enough, especially considering
that when you fast, you ramp up detoxification, and one of the eliminatory
channels for what your body is trying to detox is urine. But with
a quarter ounce of water per day, that's not going to allow your
kidneys to flush out the toxins that were mobilized from that fat
you are losing, never mind any other toxins that become systemic.
And despite what you may hear, this is not good for
there are so many books and videos about dry fasting, and
many accounts of people improving their health!"
in mind that there are tons of books and videos about drinking
your own urine, and the health benefits of eating meat and
dairy products. There will always be "the next thing",
and these things have the unfortunate habit of hanging around
and becoming part of the zeitgeist. Just because something
is a thing doesn't mean it's healthy for us to do it.
say in support of dry fasting that there have been people
who've benefited from doing it is not evidence in support
of dry fasting being the superior way to fast. Why? Because
benefits of fasting can be experienced despite the downsides
of dry fasting. When fasting incorrectly, there can be health
improvements and injuries. Keep in mind that
when you're dry fasting, you're still fasting, and that frees
up lots of nerve energy because of the absence of digestion,
and this can accelerate a healing process. So it can be true
that a dry fast could have been even more beneficial
if water consumption according to thirst was allowed. This
is something not considered by the ardent proponents of so-called
to consider when fasting is that even if you are not thirsty, your
body could still want water. Huh? Yes. In some circumstances, thirst
can be blunted to where you don't notice it. This doesn't happen
when you are in great health, and your body wants to fast, but many
people who do a long fast don't go into it in great health. This
underscores the importance of doing an extended fast with supervision,
where there are people knowledgeable enough to check in on you to
see if you need any hydration.
Don, when animals fast, they don't drink! So it should be
the same for humans!
What's different about a human fasting and a sick animal in
the wild fasting, is that a human today has lots more toxins
sequestered away in fat cells than a wild animal. So when
a human fasts and their body fat is used for fuel, more toxins
become systemic than any animal living in the wild. This explains
why sick dogs and cats are observed to need less (or no) water
when fasting than a human.
So, just as
I advise people to respect your body when it comes to fasting (fast
when your body wants you to fast, and don't fast when it doesn't
want you to fast), I also recommend to respect your body while you're
fasting when it comes to thirst. And while "dry fasting"
may be survivable (for some it wasn't), you need to decide if it
squares with your body's recommendations, as opposed to the recommendations
of someone who, although sincere and caring, may be miseducated
and laboring under some misinformation regarding what is the healthiest
way to fast. (And BTW, some fasting practitioners are not sincere,
and care more about money than people.)
So, at one
end of the fasting spectrum is "dry fasting". At the other
end is "forced water fasting" (drink X amount of water
whether thirsty or not). These are both in quotes because they don't
respect the body, and are not true fasting. In the middle of this
spectrum is fasting, which is not eating, and drinking only
if thirsty or in need of hydration. Remember, the truth is often
somewhere in the middle.
you think dry fasting is a mistake or does it have its uses?
"Dry" fasting is misunderstood. When the name is
taken to mean "do not water fast where you drink X amount
of water every Y minutes whether you are thirsty or not"
then yes, "dry" fasting is better when it says "drink
water according to thirst". Robert Lockhart was promoting
"dry" fasting at the Woodstock Fruit Festival.
As one of his colleagues and a fellow presenter, I asked him
if his definition of "dry" fasting was "drink
no water even if thirsty" and he said a definitive "no".
But many people have come to misunderstand what healthy fasting
is, and the believe that "dry" fasting means no
water even if the body wants water. But as this is VERY unhealthy,
we really shouldn't be using terms like "water fasting"
and "dry fasting". Why can't we just use "fasting",
as it was used for centuries. And BTW, "juice fasting"
is inaccurate also and should not be used... fasting means
taking in zero nutrition, only water according to thirst.
fasting as a lot of people understand it is an unhealthy thing
to do. And just because people who've tried it got some positive
results, doesn't mean those positive results were due to the
abstention from water. In fact, if they had consumed some
water, they might have had even more pronounced
is TONS of inaccurate info and misinfo in the raw vegan community.
The Ultimate Raw Vegan Fruitarian Healing FB group
attempts to shed light on it all. And yes, it can be daunting
to have to hear it, unlearn it, and relearn something different
(especially if this calls into question a much beloved health
educator's teachings), but if this process results in way
better health throughout your entire remaining
life, isn't it worth it?
A note about
our water requirement
We hear that
we're supposed to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. But
it would be more accurate to say, "the admonition to drink
approximately 64 ounces of water per day just means we need around
that amount of liquid, and not that we need water per se, and the
BEST way to get the hydration we need is twofold: 1) Get
that water via fruit, 2) Stop doing the things that are diuretic
in nature (cause the body to pull water from its cells to dilute
toxins brought into the body like alcohol, spicy hot foods, etc,
or to cool the body from abnormal physical activity like long distance
running). And the exact amount of water anyone would need to drink
should be dependent on thirst, assuming you're not too busy or otherwise
distracted to "hear" that subtle call for water.
fasting is great if you want to live long!
DON: Yes, fasts
are great IF the body wants to do them and IF
the body has the resources it needs to do them effectively and safely.
But many people are not aware of this, so they fast when the body
does not want to fast, or they fast when the body doesn't have the
resources to fast effectively and safely.
by Albert Mosseri
If you'd like to
see me discuss my 24 day body initiated fast-to-completion fast, the video