Therapeutic fasting and its consequences

therapeutic fasting

Therapeutic fasting also belongs to non-traditional methods of diet therapy. Treatment by hunger has been known since ancient times. Instructions on the curative effects of fasting can be found in ancient medical treatises in Egypt, India, China, Tibet, Rome. Many scientists and philosophers of antiquity (Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato) used systematic fasting to improve mental performance and increase creativity. Avicenna treated his patients with starvation. Hippocrates wrote: “A person carries a doctor within himself, you just need to help him in his work. If the body is not cleansed, then the more you nourish it, the more you will harm it. “

Longevity Secrets: Therapeutic Fasting for Weight Loss

Much attention was paid to medical fasting by representatives of the school of naturopathy (natural hygiene) – supporters of “natural nutrition”. Prophylactic fasting was also recommended by the famous American naturopath Paul Bregg.

Bragg believed that longevity is based on the “nine doctors”:

  1. Sunlight.
  2. Fresh air.
  3. Pure water.
  4. Natural food.
  5. Starvation.
  6. Physical exercises.
  7. Proper rest.
  8. Good posture.
  9. The mind that dictates to a person the right decisions to achieve health and longevity.

Bragg lived a long life – 95 years (from 1881 to 1976) and died not of old age, but from an accident: while riding a board on the ocean, he was hit by a very powerful wave and drowned. Bragg’s followers have repeatedly written that during the autopsy, the doctors were amazed at the state of his vessels and internal organs. Apparently, Bregg was right when he said, “My body is ageless.”

Features of fasting

Among the books written by Bregg, “The Miracle of Fasting” stands out, where he stated: “I believe that everyone is destined to live at least 120 years, as the Bible says.” The main task of a person, Bregg considered self-knowledge. It can bring “joy, happiness and enjoyment of a healthy, happy, long energetic life.” According to Bragg, in order to prolong life, it is necessary to periodically cleanse the body of the decay products and all kinds of poisons that have accumulated in it. This can be achieved by intermittent daily or 36-hour fasting and 7-10-day fasting once every three months. Bregg paid particular attention to proper nutrition, which, in his opinion, should be based on fresh raw fruits and vegetables. Salt must be excluded from food. Bragg’s The Miracle of Fasting became a bestseller.


According to the author, the opinion that animals are looking for a place where they can “lick the salt” is a myth. (It should be noted that Bragg was born and lived in the state of Arizona, a desert in which the salt content in water and soil is much higher than usual.) To remove salt from the body, Bragg recommended using natural sodium products, which is found in beets, carrots, potatoes, celery , turnips, seaweed, watercress. And drinking distilled water and fasting can get rid of salt and associated fat. “If a person who brags about his health is put on a 5-6-day fasting regimen with distilled water, then his body will remove poisons with breath and urine, which will acquire a green color and a terrible smell. This definitely proves that the body is overflowing with decomposed, unreleased substances, that got into it along with food. These gradually accumulating poisons are fraught with future human diseases. And when nature wants to spew these poisons, she chooses an “explosion”, which is called a disease, “- wrote Bregg.

Bragg recommended that fasting be carried out under the supervision of a doctor or a person who has successfully used this remedy on himself. “Only a specialist can correctly determine the moment when it is better to interrupt fasting,” – wrote Bregg. Prolonged fasting to cleanse the body, according to the author, is good in theory, but not always in practice. The greatest success can be achieved with short courses of fasting, although Bregg has often observed successful long periods of fasting.

The ideal Bragg diet should be 60% raw fruits and vegetables and 20% protein foods such as meat, fish, eggs, natural cheese, or plant proteins such as nuts or seeds. Brewer’s yeast and sprouted wheat can also be an important part of a protein diet.

Another 20% of the diet, in turn, is divided into three parts. One third is natural starch obtained from bread, rice, and legumes. Another third is natural sugars found in dried fruits, honey and juices. The last third consists of naturally occurring unsaturated fats such as sunflower, olive and soybean oils, or any other unsaturated fat. “Natural starch, sugars and oils are highly concentrated foods and should be consumed in small amounts,” Bregg wrote.

A Bragg fast should start with a 36-hour fast and gradually add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet between fasting. Reduce the number of meat dishes to one per day. Replace white bread with toast. Then you can go to the 7-day fast, after which you can cut out most of the “unnatural” food and add fresh fruit, and then after a few weeks you can go to the 10-day fast.

Bregg pays special attention to the way out of starvation. After it, you should switch to nutrition gradually so that the body gets used to food again.

Bragg does not insist on the need for a vegetarian diet. He believes that “when the body tells me to eat a little meat or fish, a little cheese or a fresh egg, then this inner voice helps me excellently.” “In the debate over vegetarianism, I try to be as moderate as possible,” wrote Bregg.

Bragg also used fasting when underweight, as he believed that a diet rich in fats, sugars, fatty dairy products would not help you gain weight. He believed that a person’s weight depends not so much on the amount of food eaten, but on how it is absorbed. When absorption is poor, you can eat as much fatty food as you like, but this will not bring the desired weight gain. “Falling below normal weight is the result of a general deterioration in health. Only after cleansing can a person with reduced weight restore their full ability to assimilate food, ”wrote Bregg. Fasting, in his opinion, “turns the course of time back and produces miraculous changes in the entire human body.” Bragg believed that his food should be “earned” by physical activity.


Herbert Shelton was also a supporter of starvation. He believed that “fasting in itself is not a cure, but a means to reveal the ability of the human body to effectively heal at a rate unthinkable with any other method. Fasting is part of a new way of life. ” Shelton believed that a person can live without food for a week or even two or three months. Of course, this does not correspond to the data of science. With prolonged fasting, complex changes in biochemical processes occur, which can affect the work of many organs and systems.

Shelton believed that there are four main reasons for long-term fasting.

  1. During fasting, a general cleaning of the body takes place. Fasting is a way to cleanse the blood, tissues, and internal organs. “Wastes and toxins”, according to Shelton, accumulate in adipose and connective tissues. (What is “slag” is unknown to modern science, but this term is very popular in various non-traditional systems of nutrition and health.)
  2. The second reason for fasting is “physiological compensation, in which the balance of nature begins to work precisely.” When food is digested, blood must flow to the digestive organs, and the person becomes lethargic. Fasting, according to Shelton, conserves energy. (This claim is completely unfounded.)
  3. Providing rest for all body systems. Shelton believes that during fasting, a person should be passive. This will lead to the rejuvenation of the body cells. (In fact, fasting is a powerful stressor, the consequences of which are often various metabolic disorders.)
  4. Fasting is the fastest, safest and most effective way to lose weight in obese people. (In fact, fasting weight loss occurs more at the expense of protein loss than adipose tissue.)

Shelton was a supporter of prolonged fasting, but did not exclude a series of short fasting. He believed that it is possible to start curative fasting immediately, and not gradually, as Bregg advised.

Shelton ruled out any kind of treatment while fasting. He was against bowel cleansing with enemas and laxatives. Bathing in the bath should not be long and the water should be warm to reduce energy consumption. Sunbathing can be brought up to ten to thirty minutes a day, early in the morning or in the late afternoon. When fasting for more than twenty days, they should be reduced to eighteen minutes.

Shelton describes the phenomena accompanying therapeutic fasting: “coated tongue, unpleasant taste in the mouth, odor from the mouth. Strong pungent odor of dark urine. ” These, according to Shelton, are signs of cleansing the body. Weight loss at this time is 0.7-2.5 kg per day. At the end of the fasting period, only 100 g per day is lost. Shelton believed that the best moment to end fasting is when you feel hungry. You can stop fasting with increased weakness and strong weight loss. Shelton paid special attention to the way out of starvation. He believed that it is best to “go out” on juices and vegetables, that is, on natural food, and in small quantities. Shelton also believed that fasting would not be beneficial if after it a person returned to their old eating habits.

Scientists in many countries have studied the physiological effects of fasting. Currently, medical fasting is used as a non-drug method of treating a number of diseases, including obesity, under the name “unloading diet therapy”. Supporters and promoters of this method consider it universal, not bringing any undesirable consequences to the human body.


However, in practical medicine and in scientific circles, one can meet with a sharply negative opinion about the advisability of using fasting for medicinal purposes. Opponents of starvation consider this method of influence on the body non-physiological, leading to serious and undesirable changes in metabolism.

The benefits of therapeutic fasting

So is fasting therapy beneficial, and can it help normalize body weight? Let’s try to figure it out.

Hunger is a powerful stress for the human body. The level of glucose in the blood drops, and to provide tissues with energy, the mobilization of liver glycogen and its conversion into glucose begins. After 12-24 hours, glycogen stores in the body are depleted, and the need for energy begins to be satisfied due to the oxidation of free fatty acids in liver cells with the formation of toxic ketones – acetone, acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyric acid. The acid-base balance in the body shifts to the acidic side – the so-called ketoacidosis sets in. For normal, harmless to the body, fat oxidation requires glucose (“fats burn in the fire of carbohydrates”). In the absence of glucose, fats can only partially meet the needs of tissues, including the brain, for energy.

Respiratory organs and kidneys strive to normalize the acidity of the internal environment of the body, as a result of which, after a few days of complete starvation, the so-called acidotic crisis sets in, after which the body completely switches to using its own tissues as a source of energy. Fasting therapy for weight loss is also used. The expenditure of reserves by various organs and tissues is uneven: the least losses are incurred by the tissues of the nerve centers and the heart, the greatest losses are by adipose tissues. According to many supporters of this method, the feeling of hunger manifests itself only in the first days, and then completely disappears. It is believed that during the first course of fasting, the acidotic crisis and switching to nutrition with one’s own tissues occurs in about a week, and during subsequent courses – earlier, on the third or fifth day.

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