Throughout history, periodic fasting has been used to help maintain the general health of the body. In ancient cultures, fasting was a common part of a person’s health regimen. As the western world developed, and agriculture and commerce increased the availability and variety of foods, the concept of regular fasting became lost. So called “developed” nations began to see food as more than fuel for the body, and an age of overindulgence was born. But the modern world is now rediscovering the health benefits of periodic fasting, and people are beginning to incorporate periodic fasts into their modern health regimens.

Overindulgence and Our Health

People today tend to consume more food than the body actually needs or wants. Moreover, these foods tend to be high in unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates and refined sugars. Add to that the overindulgence in soft drinks and alcohol, and the increased use of tobacco and other stimulants, and it’s easy to see the potential impact our lifestyles can have on our general health. The Western diet and lifestyle can be seen to be directly responsible for a number of health threatening conditions, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Periodic fasting gives us the opportunity to reverse the harmful effects of an overindulgent lifestyle, and to begin the process of restoring our bodies to optimal health.

Fasting and Detoxification

The first major benefit of periodic fasting is detoxification. Detoxification is the process by which the body eliminates, or neutralizes, potentially harmful toxins through the liver, colon, kidneys, lungs and skin. When we eliminate solid food for a short period of time, the body turns to fat reserves for energy. These fat reserves were created when glucose and carbohydrates were not needed, or used, for energy production and were therefore converted into fat. During this conversion into fat, many chemicals and environmental toxins become trapped in the fat reserves. When we fast, and the body turns to fat reserves for energy, these chemicals and toxins are released and can be naturally eliminated from the body. The release and elimination of these unwanted chemicals and toxins is vital to maintaining total health.

Fasting and Healing

The second major benefit of periodic fasting is the healing process that is set in motion when the body is denied solid foods. Much of the body’s innate energy is spent on digestion, and periodic fasting allows the body to redirect that energy, and to apply it to the immune system. With the body’s energy freed from the daily tasks of digestion, it can be applied to the repair and replacement of damaged cells.  During a period of fasting, the body is also able to make more efficient use of available proteins helping to produce stronger cells, and to rejuvenate tissues and organs. Human growth hormone is also released during a fast, and these play an integral part in the body’s ability to maintain its own health and to repair the typical damage caused by diet and lifestyle choices.

Fasting and Extended Life Expectancy

One of the most significant benefits of periodic fasting is a feeling of rejuvenation. This is more than simply emotional, and is caused by the natural improvement of the immune system, the more efficient use of proteins and the release of anti-aging hormones that occurs during a controlled fast. Recent studies indicate that the Western tendency to take in more nutrients than is necessary to fuel the body puts a strain on the system, causing our bodies to age more quickly than God intended. Periodic fasting helps to return the body to its nutritional balance, while allowing it the time and energy needed to effect repairs and to rejuvenate cells, tissues and organs.

While the idea of depriving ourselves of food for any period of time may seem counter intuitive, recent studies have demonstrated that periodic fasting offers a wide range of health benefits. Fasting allows the body to eliminate unhealthy toxins, and to use its innate energies to heal and repair itself. Before engaging in any type of fast, patients should first consult their holistic clinician to set up a fasting schedule that includes a detailed plan for the gradual transition back to solid foods. Your clinician will also be able to help you decide which type of fasting procedure is most appropriate for your general health and lifestyle.