5. What The Body Does When You Fast
So, what does the body do when you fast? Dr. Shelton lists four main activities.
- Breakdown of body fat, thereby leading to rapid weight loss. This is beneficial because excess body fat increases the risk of heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and many other diseases. Fasting is the “fastest” way to lose weight.
- Diversion of energy from digestive processes to other tissues where needed for repair and rejuvenation. Dr. Shelton explains that “if you have the water running in your bathtub and somebody turns on the water in the kitchen sink, the rate of flow into the bathtub is immediately diminished. When the water in the kitchen is cut off, the rate of flow into the bathtub is immediately increased.”
When digestion is suspended for a period of time by fasting, far less blood flows to the digestive organs. This blood is then free to flow to other tissues in the body, bringing with it essential oxygen and other nutrients which are needed for healing. This extra blood also serves as the vehicle in which wastes can be carried away.
- Physiological rest is secured. We all know the importance of rest after a hard day’s work. At night, we fall into bed exhausted. If we do not secure a good night’s rest, we will function poorly the following day. Our internal organs need rest also, yet we almost never give them rest since we eat every few hours every day. By fasting, an opportunity for complete rest is given, and the internal organs thereby are able to rebuild their strength.
- Fast to eliminate wastes. Again quoting Dr. Shelton: “Nothing known to man equals the fast as a means of increasing the elimination of waste from the blood and tissues. Only a brief period elapses after food is withheld until the organs of elimination increase their activities and a real physiological housecleaning is instituted.”
5.1 Cholesterol Deposits Break Down
In regard to elimination of wastes, consider the situation with cholesterol. Most of the cholesterol stored within the body is lining the blood vessels, setting the stage for a heart attack or stroke. While fasting, a person is obviously ingesting no cholesterol in food. Therefore, there is no added dietary cholesterol entering the bloodstream. Yet, blood tests show that the level of cholesterol commonly goes up during the first 7-10 days of a fast, then decreases afterwards. Where is this cholesterol coming from? Scientists believe the source is deposits of cholesterol in the blood vessels. The body, in an effort to cleanse its blood vessels, breaks down the deposits of cholesterol in the blood vessels and liberates it. This cholesterol is either used (to build new cell membranes, to form adrenal hormones, or other such functions) or eliminated by the liver in the bile. This is an excellent example of the body’s accelerated elimination during a fast.
Another body function that increases during a fast is fibrinolysis. Clots in the bloodstream are usually covered by a meshwork much like a spider’s web called fibrin. These clots are extremely dangerous: if one lodges in a small blood vessel in the lungs, the blood supply to that part of the lung will be obstructed and part of the lung may die. The clot is called a pulmonary (for lung) embolism (traveling clot). The process is called pulmonary infarction (death of part of the lung).
While fasting, the body’s ability to dissolve clots is greatly increased. This process, called fibrinolysis, does not permit such problems as pulmonary embolism and is part of the body’s effort at healing such problems as thrombophlebitis (inflamed veins, usually in the legs, where clots often form and break loose to travel to the lungs).
5.3 Autolysis is Accelerated
Also during fasting, the process of autolysis is accelerated. Each cell in the body contains the seeds of its own destruction. When the need presents, itself, the cell will release its own self-destructive enzymes and self-destruct. This is autolysis. As stated earlier, the body will break down and burn nonessential substances first for energy while fasting. One source of nonessential material is diseased tissue such as benign tumors (fibroid tumors of the uterus are a good example). During the fast, the process of autolysis leads to the breakdown of this type of tissue which has hampered normal functioning.
5.4 Increased Diuresis
An important body activity during a fast is greatly increased diuresis. Diuresis is the excretion by the kidneys of salt and water. Medical doctors give diuretic drugs to high blood pressure patients in order to decrease the amount of salt and water in the body, which will then result in lower blood pressure. Diuretic drugs, however, damage body tissues. While fasting, the body spontaneously and automatically eliminates salt and water without damaging body tissues. This diuresis is of tremendous health benefit.
5.5 Phagocytosis Is Accelerated
The list could go on forever. While fasting, the ability of the body’s defensive army of white blood cells to destroy virulent bacteria and digest waste material is accelerated. An experiment compared the ability of these cells to destroy virulent bacteria when taken from the bloodstream of someone who had been eating, versus cells from someone who had been eating, versus cells from someone who had fasted for a few days. The white blood cells from the fasting person were significantly more effective at killing virulent bacteria.
- 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