Part II: Determining Who Should Fast
Dr. Shelton says, “There, is hardly a time of life or a condition of body in which a fast cannot be helpful.” There are some individuals who should only fast under supervision, but, in general, everyone can be benefitted by an occasional fast. You do not have to be acutely sick or suffering from some chronic ailment to profit from a fast. This physiological rest provides an opportunity for the body to restore vital energy that cannot be accomplished as well by rest alone. When the body is greatly fatigued, there is reduced ability to digest food. It would be unwise to eat under such circumstances. Rest is needed. When the body has regained vitality and hunger returns, the fast should be broken.
To eat a certain number of calories or a certain amount of high-grade protein will not insure health if the body is unable to properly digest and assimilate it. You may eat the best of organically-grown food but if the body is exhausted or under emotional stress, the food will ferment, and instead of contributing to health, there will be an opposite effect. Toxicosis will result from the decomposition of these foods. The proper response, under these circumstances, would be to fast until such foods can be digested.
Dr. Shelton states, “Our golden rule in eating has long been: if not comfortable in mind and body from one meal to the next, miss the meal. If the healthy individual overeats, eats under states of fatigue or excitement so that discomfort follows the meal, it is well to miss the next meal. If there is worry, fear, anxiety, grief, inner conflict, or other emotional stress, miss one or more meals.”
1. Fasting For Children
Children often instinctively know when to fast and for how long. When the child refuses food, it is best to leave him alone until natural hunger presents itself, and he will demand food at that time. Children will lack all desire for food when they are ill. When they are enervated and toxicosis presents itself in the symptoms of gastritis, enlarged tonsils, constipation, diarrhea, gastritis, feverishness, etc., there will be no demand for food. Under such circumstances, the child should be allowed to fast until all symptoms disappear and hunger returns. These children should never be forced to eat as food will decompose in the stomach and its toxins will just make matters worse.
In dealing with the child, competent Hygienic guidance should be sought and followed. Sometimes a child may request food even though he is suffering from a cold or flu, but food should not be given until all symptoms have subsided.
Dr. Emmet Densmore says, “It is frequently, perhaps usually, said of this or that or the other baby that it is fretful or peevish. It is fretful because it is ill, and it is ill usually because of improper feeding. The same error that adult human beings make in regard to themselves is made in regard to the feeding of children—they are fed too often and too much.”
Infants may suffer from indigestion due to excessive handling, overfeeding, or eating candy and other unwholesome foods. One of the first signs of such indigestion is noticed by white specks in the bowel movements. This indicates that the milk is not being digested. It is often wise to skip a feeding or two at this point. If the condition is corrected at this point, no other adverse consequences will develop and health will be restored promptly. If not corrected, inflammation of the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine may develop.
It is also important that the infants and children be properly fed after the fast. A diet of fresh raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts is proper for the child. Mother’s milk is ideal for the young infant followed later by freshly-made fruit juices or fruit purees made from fresh raw fruits.
Regarding the proper food for infants and children. Dr. Densmore says, “Cereal or grain and all starch foods are unwholesome for all human beings; but this diet is especially unfavorable for children, and more especially for babies. The intestinal ferments which are required for the digestion of starch foods are not secreted until the infant is about a year old; and these ferments are not as vigorous as in adults for some years. All starch foods depend upon these intestinal ferments (enzymes) for digestion, whereas dates, figs, etc., are more nourishing than bread and cereals, and are easily digested—the larger proportion of the nourishment from such fruits being ready for absorption and assimilation as soon as eaten.”
Concerning fasting in children Dr. Shelton states, “….while always acting under proper Hygienic direction with your child, do all that you can to let the natural tools of rest, and peace and quiet restore the child if there is upset or illness—or even if it is only a question of how much he wants to eat.
“For there are ways in which the instinctive wisdom of the infant or child in such matters may be far greater than we could possibly guess.”
2. Fasting In Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a normal biological process that should not be accompanied by pain, discomfort, or any abnormal condition. In their natural state, animals do not suffer with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Primitive women are said to experience no sickness during pregnancy. This indicates that “morning sickness” and vomiting are not normal developments during pregnancy. If a woman suffers nausea and vomiting, it is not due to the pregnancy but to the toxicosis that was developed over a period of time before her pregnancy.
The body attempts to provide the ideal conditions for the developing fetus. It therefore goes about a “house-cleaning” to eliminate toxins that would make these conditions less than perfect. Many changes take place in a woman’s body during pregnancy. Glands long dormant awaken to activity. Her whole body undergoes a strengthening, renovating process. If a woman has been living healthfully, there will be no trace of unpleasant symptoms. If renovating work is needed, then a fast is called for.
A few days’ fast (longer fasts should not be undertaken during pregnancy) will enable the body to rid itself of toxins and thereby provide suitable surroundings for the fetus. After the fast, if a healthful lifestyle is led, health will be kept throughout pregnancy.
3. Who Should Not Fast
As Dr. Shelton points out, the dangers of fasting are so slight they are almost negligible or insignificant. He lists several contraindications to fasting that are often made.
- Fear of the fast on the part of the patient—It is best to educate the patient of the purpose of the fast and what to expect during the fast. Let him do some reading about the fast and about other people’s experiences. Once his fears are alleviated, a fast can commence. Also, the fast itself often dispels such fears.
- Extreme emaciation—People who are extremely emaciated may go on short fasts with definite benefits. When such people do fast, it is wise to keep the fasts short, and this may mean breaking it before hunger returns. But with proper living between fasts these people can be restored to health. Dr. Shelton feels that it is only through the fast that such individuals can be restored to health.
- In cases of extreme weakness or of extreme degeneration—Even in these cases short fasts often prove to be extremely beneficial but they should be supervised. In the later stages of cancer, even a long fast will not result in health, but may perhaps relieve some discomfort or lengthen life for a few more days.
Weakness itself is not a contraindication for fasting but is a sign that the body is in a state of toxicosis and is ready for an eliminative crisis. In this case, supervised fasting is very beneficial. Persons with heart disease have been known to make full recoveries following a fast but close supervision is again required.
- In cases of inactive kidneys accompanied by obesity—It is said that in such cases, the tissues may be broken down faster than the kidneys are able to eliminate them. Dr. Shelton has fasted obese individuals with inactive kidneys with successful results. Most often the kidneys are enervated due to high-protein diets and other dietary abuses and a rest is exactly what is needed. The rate of tissue breakdown is not more than the body can deal with.
- Difficult breathing—If the breathing difficulty is due to heart impairment, the fast should be closely watched and if the heart shows signs of weakening, the fast should be broken. However, Dr. Shelton says that he has fasted many such cases with beneficial results.
4. Fasting In Deficiencies
Most so-called deficiency diseases are not due so much to lack of essential nutrients as they are due to inability to absorb and utilize those nutrients. Fasting will enable the body to eliminate toxins, restore vital energy, and readjust and realign itself so that all available nutrients can be efficiently utilized. If a healthful diet is eaten after the fast, no deficiencies will arise.
In fact, certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies have been known to correct themselves during the fast while no food is being taken. The body will normalize itself during the fast and utilize stored nutrients.
Lesson 46 – When To Employ Fasting; Determining Who Should Fast; How Long And How Often
- Part I: When To Fast
- Part II: Determining Who Should Fast
- Part III: How Long, How Often
- Questions & Answers
- Article #1: When To Fast By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #2: Physical Rest By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #3: Pounds That Slip Away By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #4: Does Fasting Cure Disease? By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton