4. The Body’s Innate Wisdom Guides Us During A Fast
When a person is fasting, his heart and lungs and kidneys and other essential organs continue functioning. They must be functioning or death would rapidly ensue. To function, these organs need fuel. While eating, this fuel comes from ingested food, yet this source is obviously not available during a fast. While fasting, all nourishment is supplied from within the body.
Hygienists have long recognized the wisdom behind the functioning of the body. To maintain the blood acid/alkaline balance, or the blood sugar levels, or the body temperature, or the blood pressure level, requires tremendously complicated physiological systems. That the body is able to maintain itself in a steady state, called homeostasis, even when there are great pressures to deviate from this state requires properly functioning mechanisms which are far more complicated than the finest engineer or computer scientist could design.
Yet, there are some scientists who believe that when a person is fasting his body lacks the intelligence and self-protective mechanisms to break down nonessential material within the body first, and thereby spare the essential tissues.
Scientific studies, however, along with the accumulated experiences of 150 years of Hygienic doctors, testifies to the contrary. The body’s innate wisdom continues functioning during a fast. The body is well aware of the fact that tissue constipation and toxemia are interfering with its normal functioning.
In fact, even while eating the body is attempting to break down and remove the waste material in and around cells and blood vessels. During a fast, however, this process is greatly accelerated. The body at this time needs to devote no energy to digestion and absorption of food. This energy, therefore, is devoted to elimination of waste.
4.1 Nonessential Matter is Utilized First
Fundamentally, fasting is as simple as this. While fasting, the body breaks down and burns for energy the least essential substances within it first. After a period of weeks (2-6 weeks in the nonobese person), this process is completed. When all waste material and nonessential substances (fat reserves) have been eliminated, the fast is finished. If a person continues not to eat, he will be starving. During this period of time, the body will break down and burn for energy its essential tissues. A doctor can easily tell when a fast ends. The way in which this is done will be discussed in future lessons.
Scientific research has totally confirmed this metabolic scenario. When the average person begins to fast, the body initially will burn for energy the glycogen which has built up in the liver and muscles.
This glycogen, formed from blood sugar (glucose), is present in only small quantities. Once the glycogen stores are exhausted, which occurs in just a few days, the body will burn mainly fat, a non-essential reserve material which has accumulated not only in the thighs and buttocks but in and around every cell and blood vessel in the body. After the fat is gone, the body will begin to burn the protein which is in excess.
4.2 The Body Conserves Its Vital Organs
For many years, scientists believed that the brain could only live on blood sugar. This is important in the discussion of fasting for the following reasons. First, the brain usually burns 20% of the body’s blood sugar; it is, therefore, a major consumer of energy materials. Second, if it can only live on blood sugar, this must be supplied to it while fasting. Third, while fasting, after the glycogen stores are used up, the only source of sugar is from breakdown of protein. Fourth, if protein is used to supply the brain with sugar from the beginning of a fast, there must be a tremendous breakdown of liver muscle to feed the brain. And fifth, if this occurs, fasting for over a few days will be exceedingly dangerous.
It is for this reason that scientists criticized fasting prior to 15 years ago. But about 15 years ago, scientists found that during a fast the brain will undergo metabolic conversions so that it can burn fat. This spares blood sugar, which in turn spares body protein (mainly muscle and liver), which in turn vastly prolongs the amount of time during which a person can safely fast.
For 135 years, Hygienic doctors had claimed that the average person can safely fast for about 2-6 weeks with little or no loss of essential tissue. In the last 15 years, conventional nutritional scientists have finally come to adopt this view. But beware of those doctors and researchers who have not read a textbook or scientific journal published in the last 15 years; they will still say that the brain can only live on sugar and that fasting is therefore dangerous! You would be surprised to know how many doctors are not aware of the research which as been published in the last 15 years.
- 1. What Is Fasting?
- 2. History Of Fasting
- 3. Why We Should Fast
- 4. The Body’s Innate Wisdom Guides Us During A Fast
- 5. What The Body Does When You Fast
- 6. Juice Dieting Vs. Fasting
- 7. What A Fast Cannot do
- 8. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: Living Without Eating By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #2: Fasting In Nature By Dr. Alec Burton