3. Why We Should Fast
Fasting represents a physiological rest and to make this point more lucid, we may look at the process of bio-energetics. When we consume food, the initial process is of ingestion, the placing of food into the mouth. This is followed by the process of mastication and swallowing as the food initially prepared within the oral cavity departs for the stomach where it is once again acted upon by the mechanical pressures of the muscular contractions of the stomach wall combined with the chemical effect of the secreted products referred to as gastric juice.
After a period of time ranging from one to several hours, the food is then actively transported into the duodenum where it undergoes further mechanical and chemical processing before it traverses the canal to a point where it may be absorbed—a process referred to as “active transport.”
Whatever remains behind travels through the tract to the bowel and is expelled. The nutrients which have been absorbed are circulated and processed by the liver and other organs. Some may be stored and others directed to the cells for utilization.
If we look closely at this whole process, we will observe that ingestion, mastication, transport, gastric secretion, and mobility, intestinal secretion and activity, bowel action, absorption, circulation, storage, distribution, and final assimilation within the cell are energy expensive processes. Right to the point where the molecules of the nutrients are enzymatically broken down and energy is liberated, right to this point energy has been expended.
We can now see that in fasting-much of this energy does not have to be expended. In fact it is conserved. First, the nutrients are already in the body. Although they may be stored and subject to reconversion, they are nevertheless beyond the point of absorption, and are therefore more easily available to the body with a minimum energy expenditure. At the same time another grand process of the body is elimination. That is, the particular process by which metabolic toxins (by-products of normal bodily processes) are eliminated from the body.
As you have learned, the living organism is constantly producing toxins. These are substances which are the end result of the body’s chemical processes, and it is essential that may be removed from the tissues and the blood as rapidly as they are produced. This is the process of elimination which is accomplished largely by the kidneys in producing urine, by the liver in producing bile, by the lungs in exchanging gaseous wastes.
In this total process then, we can argue that fasting represents a physiological rest, in that less energy is required for the utilization of nutrients when fasting than under normal conditions of feeding, and that as a consequence, more energy is available for the restorative and recuperative effort that the body is to make which involves increased elimination among the many processes.
3.1 Accumulation of Waste Products
We must bear in mind that the average person in this country eats far more food than necessary, exercises far less than needed, and rests far too little. All of these changes result in a build-up of unwanted waste material in the body. For instance, consider fat. When a person eats too much fat, the level of fat in the bloodstream becomes elevated. When there is too much fat in the bloodstream, some of it diffuses into the space between the blood vessels and the cells. When there is too much fat in this space, called the intercellular space, some of the fat diffuses across the cell membrane into the cells.
The result of having too much fat in the bloodstream, too much fat lining the blood vessels, in the intercellular spaces, and inside the cells, is to interfere with normal functioning of the cells. This excess material partially blocks the exit of carbon dioxide and other waste materials from the cells. Poor functioning, called disease, is the inevitable result of this situation. The type of disease depends on the location in the body in which the greatest amount of fat has accumulated.
3.2 Chemical Wastes Commonly Found in Excess
There are many waste materials, excesses, and other toxins that accumulate in and around cells and blood vessels and cause harm. Consider some of the chemicals that are commonly present in the bloodstream, but cause harm when present in excess quantities.
Cholesterol is one problematic substance. A certain amount is needed for normal functioning. Excesses, however, set the stage for heart disease.
Triglycerides are the fats in our diet and bloodstream. When present in normal amounts, there are no problems. However, excesses also contribute to the cause of heart disease.
Uric acid causes harm when its concentration in the bloodstream rises too high. Gout may result when this occurs.
Glucose (blood sugar) is needed for normal functioning. But, when a person is diabetic and the blood glucose level remains abnormally low, much harm will result.
The fact is that any chemical substance, if present in too great an amount in the body, will cause problems, such as cholesterol, but also chemicals which are not normally present, such as cadmium (strictly speaking, this is a metal, not a chemical).
If any food, even protein (it might be more accurate to say especially protein), is eaten in amounts exceeding the body’s ability to burn up or eliminate, it will accumulate and cause problems. When a person exercises too little, less food is burned and health problems can thus more easily develop.
Finally, when a person is under too much stress or gets too little rest, the body has little energy to devote to the process of elimination.
3.3 Unimpeded Elimination Essential
Consideration of the subject of fasting brings attention to a major, but usually neglected, area of nutrition and biochemistry—that of elimination. Most nutritionists are only concerned with supplying the body with enough food; they give little attention to the damage brought on by too much food and too little elimination of waste.
Imagine the body’s metabolic systems as a funnel. Only a certain amount of food can pass through the small end of the funnel. In the body, this means that only a certain amount of food can be burned by the body to form energy, carbon dioxide, and water; also, the body’s eliminative systems (intestines, liver, kidneys, lungs, skin) can only eliminate a limited amount of excess food. Therefore, when too much food is poured into the funnel, there is a backup. First the bloodstream, then the intercellular spaces, then the cells become loaded with excesses. This condition is called tissue constipation and toxemia.
In society, there is a tremendous concern for intestinal constipation. Yet, the scientific research shows that the main cause of discomfort from the intestinal constipation is from the pressure it causes, not from chemical poisoning from the colon. Compare this to the condition of tissue constipation: here we have a build-up of many harmful chemicals to which all our cells and tissues are exposed. Tissue constipation is hundreds of times more damaging than colon constipation.
And this is where fasting enters the picture. While fasting, the body can remove the chemicals responsible for tissue constipation and toxemia, the very chemicals responsible for a wide variety of diseases.
- 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