Monday, March 19, 2012

Ways and Benefits of Fasting

I have fasted on and off for a very long time but never on a regular basis. In 2004 I was dealing with a parasite called Blastocystis hominis and I also had a lot of abdominal distention after eating. It wasn't until later that I found out that I needed to supplement with betaine HCl but at the time I thought the abdominal distention might be due to the parasite. I went on an extensive anti-parasitic herbal protocol and the guy who sold it recommended doing colonics during the protocol. I found a place that did colonics and the guy running the place recommended doing a "cleanse" along with the anti-parasitic protocol and the colonics. It was a 7-day cleanse during which I consumed nothing but water, tea, clear vegetable broth, and rice protein shakes, and got a colonic every day. Yup - you read that right. Daily colonics for 7 days.

After the cleanse I felt incredible. I had increased energy, my skin looked amazing, my digestion was better and more. I couldn't believe how good I felt and at that point I decided to do some sort of cleanse every year or twice a year. The colon hydrotherapist also recommended fasting one day a week and 3 days every 4th week.

Unfortunately I did not stick with the yearly cleanse or his suggestions. Fast forward to 2009 after my health had really deteriorated. DH and I were planning on going on another cruise and I just felt so miserable I decided to do a fast to get myself to a better place. Since then I have been fasting every spring and every fall and each time I feel so much better when I am done. Twice I was able to fast at a clinic in Germany called Klinik von Weckbecker which was amazing and probably requires a blog post in itself.

So here I am fasting again and I thought I would write a bit about fasting. Let's start with what fasting is. It is the voluntary action of abstaining from all food and drink. At least that's what true fasting is which is also referred to as dry fasting since you consume absolutely nothing, not even water. A more common form of fasting is water fasting, during which you consume nothing but water. While it is more common, many people find it too difficult and prefer juice fasting. During the latter you consume water, tea, and fresh pressed juices.

There is also a form of fasting that is very common in Germany referred to as "Heilfasten nach Buchinger". "Heilfasten" means healing fasting and Buchinger was a German doctor who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis after a case of tonsillitis that wasn't completely cured. At the suggestion of a colleague he did an almost 3 week fast after which he was healed. He then studied the effects of fasting and later opened a clinic where patients could go to participate in a medically supervised fast. His method of fasting includes 4 to 6 oz of fresh pressed vegetable juice for breakfast, clear vegetable broth for lunch, and herbal tea with 1 tablespoon of honey for dinner. The patient also needs to drink plenty of water throughout the day to flush out toxins.

This method of fasting is used at the clinic I referred to above but I did not consume juice on a daily basis. I also skipped the honey at night and had another bowl of clear vegetable broth for dinner. Ideally, I would like to do a true water fast since you get the most healing out of it. However, I am still taking hydrocortisone and a doctor at True North Health felt that I should at least consume some vegetable broth. I usually start my fast with just water, green/black tea (or a tiny cup of coffee), and broth. If my blood sugar dips too low I add in a tiny bit of juice by adding it to my broth. The reason I keep in coffee or green/black tea is because of low blood pressure. Mine is already pretty low and during fasting ones blood pressure usually drops even more. Last year at the clinic in Germany I think my lowest was 88/48 and I felt accordingly. I was completely worn out, mentally out of it, not even cognitive, and didn't even feel like going for a walk. With a tiny cup of coffee I felt like a different person. This is obviously not true fasting or recommended during a fast, but it works for me.

So what are the benefits of fasting? There are so many I couldn't list them all but below are just a few key benefits:
  • reverses type II diabetes and insulin resistance
  • greater mental clarity
  • improved skin tone
  • fat weight loss
  • nervous system is balanced
  • strengthens the immune system
  • body is cleansed and detoxified
  • reduces inflammation
  • eliminates or reduces allergies
  • peristaltic action is stronger and faster after a fast
  • reverses hypertension
Like I said, these are a just a few key benefits. There are many, many more and they are all achieved in a very short amount of time. Even a 3-day water fast can bring about amazing positive changes in your body. During a fast the body diverts energy away from digestion and towards cleansing and detoxifying. Anything that is not needed by the body, such as tumors, scar tissue, bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, etc. is subject to autolysis. During a fast hormone production is also much more efficient causing an increase in the release of growth hormone which can increase energy, help with fat loss, and can protect cells throughout the body.

The reason I fast repeatedly is that I still have a lot of health issues. I just started treatment with Dr. Dahlgren at the Comprehensive Medical Center and have had quite a few ups and downs. The most bothersome symptom I deal with is daily abdominal distention. It is very, very uncomfortable and makes for a rough day. During and after a fast the abdominal distention is greatly reduced and I don't feel near as uncomfortable after eating. Unfortunately as time goes by it gets worse and worse which is why I am fasting again. Dr. D thinks that parasites are a huge issue for me and I am about to start a course of 5 different anti-parasitics. My hope is that the combination of this fast and then taking all the anti-parasitics, will put an end to the abdominal distention as well as many other symptoms. If it does, I would still want to do a fast every spring and fall for general detox, just not quite as long. I would probably do a 5 to 7 day fast twice a year versus a 14 to 21 day fast. This time I am hoping to fast a maximum of 18 days and a minimum of 14 days. This is my first day and so far I feel ok. I am sure I would feel worse if I had stopped coffee as well.

So far today I have consumed 1/2 cup of black coffee, 2 cups of clear vegetable broth with Celtic sea salt, and lots of water. Ideally I should have done an enema this morning or taken some Epsom salt, but I didn't get around to it. I will write more about why this is important in tomorrow's post.

This post was shared on Fat Tuesday.

No comments: