Benefits of fasting
The first question you might ask “Why should I fast?”
A thorough answer to that question could comprise an
entire book. The short answer is that fasting helps
the body to normalize itself
Think about what happens when you go to sleep at night.
Your body immediately goes about the tasks of repair
and recovery (as much as possible) from the wear and
tear of the day’s activities. A renovation takes place
in your brain and throughout your entire body that
enables you to arise refreshed and raring to go the
The restorative power of a night’s sleep involves many
factors, and the process is not completely understood.
But one factor that definitely helps facilitate this
process of rejuvenation is your nightly fast. While
you are sleeping each night, you are not eating—you
are not adding to your body’s digestive work. This
period of digestive rest allows your body to devote
more of its energy to its nightly restoration.
You probably know from experience that eating a heavy
meal late at night interferes with the quality of your
sleep and leaves you feeling groggy the next day.
Heavy eating late at night, much like heavy
drinking late at night, can leave you with a hangover.
Abstinence from food at night facilitates the process
of biological renewal, allowing your body to proceed
with its repairs and restorations. Of course, one
does not remain asleep throughout a fast, but when
fasting is combined with rest, your body treats it
as an extended period of renovation and renewal.
During fasting, your senses become more acute,
including taste, smell, and hearing. Even sight has
been known to improve during a fast, although that
does not always happen.
Balance and stability
Most people are familiar with the term homeostasis,
which refers to the body’s balancing, centering, and
stabilizing mechanisms. Homeostatic mechanisms are what
enable your body to adjust to the relentless changes
in your external and internal environments.
It is easier for your body to maintain homeostasis
when you are resting and fasting than when you are
eating and engaging in activity. The conservation
of energy during such a profound period of rest
creates a favorable condition for the biological
process of healing. The human body is programmed to
always seek normality, and a properly conducted fast
supports and encourages that process.
Absence of hunger
Your next question might very well be, “Won’t I be
hungry all the time when I am fasting?” The surprising
fact is that after one or a few days of fasting, most
people experience little or no desire for food.
The desire to eat is dictated by a combination of
physiological and psychological factors. It is
thought that hunger is triggered by the activity
of certain brain cells within the “appetite center”
of the hypothalamus which respond to the blood
During fasting, the body begins to burn fat as a
fuel, and the appetite center becomes temporarily
desensitized to blood glucose.
This makes it possible to fast without a gnawing hunger.
Most people report little desire for food while
fasting. They do not have a powerful, overwhelming
urge to eat. This helps make it possible for most
people to fast comfortably for several weeks or longer.
What to expect on your first fast.
Fasting has been an integral part of Natural Hygiene care
for more than 100 years. Many thousands of people have
restored their health through fasting. Some, ill and
distraught from years of discomfort and discouragement,
try fasting as a last resort.
Some of the conditions that respond well to fasting and
aggressive dietary changes after the fast are headache,
rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, heart disease, high blood
pressure, diabetes, colitis, psoriasis, lupus, and
Fasting to heal oneself can mean the difference between
living life pain-ridden and dependent on drugs, going
from one doctor to another for relief and living a
normal, pain-free existence into old age.
Health Science asked longtime Hygienic physician
Ralph Cinque, D.C., to describe some of the experiences
a person might encounter while considering and,
ultimately, undertaking their first fast.
What to expect on your first fast.
Answers to the most commonly-asked questions!
By Ralph Cinque D.C.
Fasting is not the solution to every health problem,
but it can have a powerful effect in reversing pathology
and establishing a foundation for health.
If you have never fasted before, you undoubtedly have
many questions about it. Perhaps you have read a book
about fasting, and you are hopeful that fasting will
help you overcome a particular problem and improve
your general health.
But since fasting is not yet a regular part of medical
practice, it may be difficult for you to seriously
consider it. This is unfortunate because fasting can
have a powerful effect in reversing pathology and
establishing a foundation for health. Fasting is not
an all-encompassing solution to every health problem,
but it has great promise to bolster the recovery process
for many ailing people.
In order to make an intelligent decision about fasting,
you need reliable information that is accurate, factual,
and scientific. It is good to talk to people who have
fasted and to doctors who are experienced in the use of
fasting. Dr. Herbert Shelton (1895-1985), who was one of
the founders of the American Natural Hygiene Society,
probably had more experience with fasting than anyone
else who ever lived. It is estimated that he supervised
more than 40,000 fasts. Dr. Shelton used to say that
the most vehement objections to fasting are
made by those who have never missed a meal in their lives.
Think twice before accepting condemnations of fasting from
those who know nothing about it and have no experience with
it, whether they a physicians or lay persons. if you
objectively look at the evidence about fasting, you will
see that it has improved health and life for countless
people under a broad range of circumstances.
It is important to recognize that psychological factors
can affect people differently during fasting. Some
people have a habit of thinking and talking about food
much of the time — whether they are hungry or not. Some
people even dream about food while fasting. But most
people experience little or no psychological discomfort
about not eating for a period of time. Some even enjoy
the feeling of lightness and freedom they get while
fasting. Do not assume that you will feel like you are
“starving” because you won’t be starving.
You will be fasting.
Fasting, not starving
There is an important difference between fasting and
starving. Fasting is a period of abstinence from food
during which the body’s nutrient reserves are adequate
to meet the body’s nutritional needs. Starvation can
occur only if you abstain from food beyond the point
where you have sufficient nutrient reserves.
The differences between fasting and starving are
unmistakable to the trained eye, and that is why it
is important that you fast under the supervision of
a member of the International Association of Hygienic
Physicians (IAHP) who is certified for fasting supervision.
Will I experience discomfort?
While fasting, everyone tends to experience some
“locomotor weakness,” which refers to the withdrawal
of energy from the muscular system as the body tries
to conserve energy. Sometimes it is surprisingly mild.
Some people fast for two weeks without becoming
discernibly weak. They move about as easily as they
did before they began their fasts.
In general, those who are large and heavy tend to remain
more energetic than those who are small and light. The
body enforces an earlier slowdown of caloric expenditure
in those who have the least reserves. Thin people can
become weak rather early in a fast. Interestingly, women
tend to hold up better energy-wise while fasting than do
men. I presume it is because women tend to have greater
fat reserves, on average, but hormonal factors also may
Symptoms may arise during fasting, such as headaches,
nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and skin eruptions.These all
are related to the increase in your body’s eliminative
activities during the fast, and they are considered to be
constructive. Dr. Shelton used the term “orthopathic,”
which means “right suffering,” to describe these events.
Nevertheless, they can be uncomfortable and distressing.
The vast majority of people are able to fast for a
sufficient period of time without major discomfort.The
most frequent complaint I hear from people who are
fasting is that they are bored. However, there are
instances when a situation arises that may necessitate
terminating the fast.That is why it is important that
you fast under the supervision of a physician trained
in fasting supervision.
Low blood pressure
Blood pressure tends to drop during a fast, which is a
good thing if your pressure is too high. But if you have
normal or low blood pressure, this further drop in blood
pressure during fasting can occasion orthostatic
hypotension—a sudden feeling of weakness and
lightheadedness that occurs when you try to stand up too
quickly. While fasting, you must be careful to move
around slowly in order to give your body time to adjust
to different postures.
There are special receptors in the neck called
baroreceptors which regulate the blood pressure to the
brain. These baroreceptors tend to respond more slowly
during fasting; they take longer to read conditions and
elicit a response. People have been known to faint while
fasting, but the only danger in fainting is that you may
hit your head on something hard or sharp as you fall down.
The way to prevent such a mishap is to be slow and careful
each and every time you shift positions during fasting.
Pause between postures to give your body time to adjust
to the effects of gravity.
Sometimes it is necessary to end a fast because of low blood
pressure. How low you can allow your blood pressure to drop
during fasting before terminating a fast depends upon what
your blood pressure was originally, and your size, age, sex,
and other factors.An experienced physician can make that
A good and safe experience
To maximize the benefits from fasting and ensure your
safety, obtain professional supervision from a certified
IAHP physician. Fasting beyond several days requires
professional supervision in order to be safe.
Moreover, there are some fragile and delicate individuals
for whom even one day of fasting would be ill-advised
without an IAHP doctor’s approval and supervision.
Stability is achieved during fasting because of adaptations
the body makes, and individuals vary at how well they make
As I mentioned, the biggest complaint I hear from people
who are fasting is that they are bored. Here is where mental
discipline can be a major factor. No one will deny that it
can be mentally challenging to lie around fasting day after
day. But, if you take it just one day at a time (and don’t
decide ahead of time how many days you will fast), you can
get through your first fast without too much difficulty.
Dr. Cinque, 1996