Sunday, August 23, 2009
Fasting, My Best Post
A fast is going without food and drinking only water. That's it. No intake of any food whatsoever.
Teachers in the art of fasting recommend doing a fast under doctor supervision if over 3 days. I hope to fast for 7 days. I will not have a doctor's supervision for a number of reasons. First, there are no allopathic doctors in Orange County disciplined in the art of fasting. Second, I don't want to travel and pay to stay somewhere while they monitor me. And, I like doing my fasts at home.
Why am I doing a fast? For several reasons and here are a few:
#1. I just finished my road trip yesterday. Now I want to give my body a vacation, and that is what I consider a fast.
#2. A fast helps reset the body to desire more healthful living. It always does for me. After I fast, I find that my body craves healthy, non processed foods--fruits and vegetables.
#3. I love to fast. Love it. It is my belief, that it's the greatest gift I can give to myself. Bar none. I started my fast yesterday on the last day of our trip. Today begins my second day. I will be fasting for a total of 7 days. You may think it's irresponsible to go without food for such a long time. In fact, traditional medicine believed that if one went without food for 10 days the result would be death. I have fasted before for 14 days and have fasted for 7-10 days a number of times, so not only do I debunk this statement, many others have fasted for well over 40 days.
You ask, how can you love not eating? I love eating. And it is unpleasant not eating. But in the long term, fasting gives me benefit. Dr Joel Fuhrman's "Fasting and Eating for Health" explains the benefits of fasting.
So as I fast, I will be adding to this post to tell of my experience, both good and bad.
8/23 Started my fast yesterday. While, I like everyone else, likes to eat, when I set myself to fasting, somehow I'm just able to do it. It's almost like a switch gets turned on in my head. Plus I've fasted several times before and they have all been successful, so I know I can do it. A few times I wanted to do a longer fast and have cut it short, but usually I'm able to fast to what I commit to.
When I was on vacation, I started out eating pretty well. But as the vacation wore on, I knew that I was fighting a losing battle and I just gave in. (One of the places though that I discovered and really loved was "The Golden Coral". Lots of scrumptious vegetables and salad). But anyway, I let my normal diet slip, and just let myself go. I ate lots of shit. I'll be honest, no one twisted my arm, I enjoyed the food that I ate, but my body despised my putting such crap into it. We are not made to eat fast food, ie, hamburgers, fried chicken, french fries, ice cream, etc.
So part of my fast is to reset myself. And truly that's what a fast does. It gets a chance to purge the bad and make room for the new.
This morning I awoke and my body just felt great. It's an inner joy to me realizing I'm doing what is best for me. We want to be healthy, and we think we get it by "health insurance". This will be my next post right now.
Still 8/23, but later in the day.
I'm now actually starting my 3rd day of fasting. My last meal was in Albuquerque, NM. I had a McDonald's hamburger and an apple pie, washed down with a few beers.
So far the fast has gone well. No great desire for food, and I'm not weak. I took our dog out for a walk a few times today, but other than that, have been resting. It's a joy also to back home and not driving. Man, did we drive a lot.
I remember my first fast. It lasted either 7 or 10 days. It was pretty powerful. One of the things that happen on a fast is one usually develops very bad breadth. That is because the body is expelling toxins and really getting a chance to cleanse itself. Anyway, after that first fast, I went to Vegas with my wife. We went to the brewery/pub at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas. I ordered a beer and had the waitress take it back. My taste buds had become so cleansed, I thought I was drinking metal. When the next beer came, I tried to drink that too, and realized it wasn't the beer that tasted bad, it was my extra sensitive taste buds.
I can tell this is going to be a long post. I hope you like it so far. I realize I have a lot to say, and I certainly have the time to write.
I'm now fully into my 3rd day. Absolutely no hunger at all. One would think that one would get hungrier as time goes on. I know when I get up in the morning, or around noon time, I'm so hungry I can't stand it. And I think, I better satisfy that hunger right now. For if I don't, I'll be much hungrier later. But the truth is, I now don't have hunger.
Last night, I only slept for a few hours and just rested in bed. That's a normal side effect of fasting, your sleep patterns are changed. Most likely I'll nap during the day.
Another thing I like to do, but for some reason is not recommended but I do it anyway, is that I take warm baths. When one is fasting, the body gets chilled easily and to be in warm bath water is comforting to me.
The other thing I do that is strange, but I seem to do every time I fast is to trim the hair on my body. I got a haircut in Albuquerque (really funny, it was a Mexican gangbanger kind of place) and I'll trim the rest in the next couple of days.
So last night I'm reading Dr Fuhrman's book and I'd love to share some great stuff.
This is just a tidbit of the wisdom in Dr Fuhrman's book:
"The self-healing power of the body is often overlooked because it is rarely given a chance to act in a world that expects the quick fix. The power of the body is as evident as green grass, rainy days, and sunshine. It is by no means a mystical power: it arises from the same exceptional intelligence that produced you out of two microscopic cells and that heals your wounds when you are injured. It is the same set of natural human characteristics that allows you to eliminate waste or to "lose weight" when you change your diet. It is the innate ability that allows an exhausted individual to go to bed (without eating) and wake up vibrant and full of energy for another 16 hours. Fasting enables the body to repair and rejuvenate its own tissues, by directly providing the conditions of recovery and removing the impediments that curtail your recuperative powers. The fast establishes a unique opportunity, vital for the restoration of health."
Here's something he said about drugs: "Drugs, recognized as toxic and harmful if ingested when we are well, are suddenly seen as healthful and healing when the body is suffering with an acute illness".
I've googled Leaky Gut Syndrome. Take your time and look at this. I'm not even sure Western medicine acknowledges this, but it seems plausible to me.
Think about this: You eat an animal based protein diet. Some of the proteins leak into the bloodstream via a leaky gut. The body's auto immune system recognises these as foreign pathogens and decides to do battle. But because of molecular mimicry your immune system gets fooled. Why? Because animal proteins are very similar to our own body and the immune system then attacks itself. This is what is known as auto immune disease, such as lupus, arthritis, MS, etc.
I know it's a pretty radical thought, but it makes sense to me. Like Dr Fuhrman says in his book, (to paraphrase): Imagine hitting your finger every night with a hammer. And then your finger swells up. What are you to do? Well in our way of doing things, we treat the effect and not the cause. We give drugs to stop the swelling (anti-inflammation drugs) instead of dealing with the cause, IE, stop hitting your damn finger with the hammer.
It sounds too simple. But let's look at arthritis. From what I know, arthritis is a swelling of the joints that causes intense pain. So the way I see it, inflammation is actually a good thing, but we want to take care of the problem with steroids or anti inflammatory drugs. We never get better, but hey, it's better than nothing.
Instead, I believe one of the reasons for arthritis is started in the foods we eat. Animal based foods consist of animal proteins, which are absorbed in our body whole via leaky gut syndrome, then our body gets tricked into attacking our own body because of molecular mimicry. And unfortunately, one doesn't have blood flow in the joints but another liquid that is not as fast at removing impurities as the blood. Hence the joints have more time to attack itself, therefore the swelling.
As Dr Fuhrman says: "Too frequently patients suffer from lifelong problems that are merely the response of irritated tissues to noxious stimuli".
And here: "Without inflammation, infections would go unchecked and wounds would never heal".
And finally: "When we view the inflammation as the problem and not the result of the problem, we make an essential error in health care.----Fasting is an effective way to treat inflammation because it allows the body to remove the noxious stimuli that caused the problem in the first place".
So now I hope you have a somewhat greater appreciation for a fast. When I did my first fast, I did it blind. I didn't know anything about it. Luckily, I went to the library and found Dr Fuhrman's book. Since that time I've read it easily 25 times. My wife said to me last night, "Why do you read it, you must have it memorized by now?". Well pretty close. But one thing I'll always remember and never forget--When I went through my first fast, it was a powerful experience. I remember reading and I just kind of put the book down and looked straight ahead. My wife was driving at the time, and asked me "What's up?". I told her if just one half of what Dr Fuhrman says in his book is true, it's incredible.
I'm now in my 4th day of the fast. One of the pleasant things that has occurred is that when I look at my hand, I can tell my fingers and thumb are skinnier. When one fasts, a lot of liquids are removed from the body. I have not been on the scale since beginning the fast, and though I know in the first few days I lose between 2-4 pounds per day, and after a few days it will average to only a pound a day, once I start re feeding all the weight will come back. But that's the beauty of the fast. I know that a fast does many more things for my body than I can ever dream, but I'm sure one of the things it's doing is flushing a lot of the excess salt from my body. I got to thinking last night, while on my trip, not only did I eat a lot of fat food and some meats, but I ate a lot of salty foods. And I'm pretty sure that affects me quite a bit. High blood pressure runs in my mother's side of the family, so I'm easily disposed to it. It really is in my hands if I want to have high blood pressure or not.
And then I got to thinking about how much I eat out of the house. I would say most of my meals are consumed away from home. And while I pat myself on the back eating mostly vegan meals, I realize some of these are very high in salt. For instance, when I go to El Pollo Loco, I get their rice and bean burrito. Sometimes when I bite into it, I feel like I'm eating a salt shaker. Let's face it, they don't care how much salt they put in their food. #1, salt is cheap, and #2 it gives food flavor. The reality of it is, when you go out to a restaurant, they don't have your health in mind. It sounds kind of simple in it's logic, but if they don't have your health in mind, and you don't have your health in mind, well, that doesn't bode well.
Now I would like to talk about what happens to the body when one actually fasts. I think it's quite miraculous.
First, to quote from Dr Fuhrman: "Fasting to heal oneself can mean the difference between living life pain-ridden and dependent on drugs, and living a normal pain-free existence into old age".
The first thing that fasting does is stop the work of the digestive tract. So it gets a chance to rest too. I believe 30% of calories consumed are used for the process of digestion.
When one begins to fast, the body uses up the glucose it has stored. This is used up in the first day or two. After that the body breaks down fatty acids that are utilized by the muscles, heart and liver for energy. The brain, during a fast is a major utilizer of energy and must have glucose. An adaptation occurs where the brain can use ketones instead of glucose, made by the liver. These ketones become the major fuel for the body, limiting muscle wasting.
It's amazing to me how our body will take care of itself if we will let it. It's almost the opposite of what we learn in that if something is wrong, the question is what does one take to make it better? We should do the opposite, do nothing, trust the body in it's wisdom to work through whatever it needs to do.
If you would like some cool reading stuff, google "Natural Hygiene" and "Herbert Shelton".
I know many people think I'm obsessive when it comes to health. The fact is, I wish I was. But the reality is, I'm not nearly responsible enough for my health. I wish I could read some of these great doctor's works and just incorporate it into my life. It doesn't happen that way. I have been doing this for over 20 years. Now while I know that if I never ever took responsibility for my health way back then, I know I would be in deep do-do now. Life would not be good. But in 20 years I've learned a lot. One of the first books I read, (probably 25 years ago that had an influence on my life), was "Diet for a small planet" by Frances Moore Lappe.
I've read many books since then who I think are the greatest nutritionists on the planet: Dr Fuhrman, Dr McDougall, Dr Esselstyn, Dr T Colin Campbell, and Natan Pritiken. I've learned what I eat makes a big difference in my health. One of the other first books that took me on my journey was "The Rice Diet" by Walter Kempner. It was through his book that I realized what you eat can actually be measured scientifically. Now I take that for granted, and others are realizing it, but how healthy one gets, is in one's own hands.
I mean, think of billionaires like Buffet and Gates, two of the richest men on this planet. Let's say they had high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, gout, why don't you throw in a few more, don't you think they would give up their billions, (or at least a few), for the chance to be healthy? To me health is number one.
By the way, it's morning now and I must say everything is going quite well. I'm very comfortable, I've taken "Lady" out for her walk, and I plan on getting a massage later in the day.
If you would like to learn more about fasting, these people have some fantastic articles and their own fasting center, here's their link.
This is somewhat related so I thought I'd post it here. I've been looking at making myself green smoothies for a year and have done it off and on. I think Victoria is on to something here. To use the blender instead of the juicer is a big time saver and I like the idea of using fruit to make it taste good. Some circles teach you that you are not to mix fruits and vegetables together, but I'll take my chances.
I'm into my 5th day of the fast. Every thing is going ok. I find my mornings though to be better than my nights. Last night I was walking and my legs started wobbling uncontrollably for about 5 seconds. And sometimes when I get up, I have to sit down right away. Also last night I wanted to throw up but couldn't. This has happenned before in my fasts, and I know it's a normal experience but I end up not getting sick.
So I'm on the downward slope, with only 3 days to go. My wife has just gotten home from the store with the watermelon. Though she doesn't fully agree with me fasting, I still am very apprciative of her support, it sure makes the fasting time a lot more pleasant.
I am going to cut my fast to 5 days. I have dropped 11 pounds, and went from a size 32 waist to a 30. I will most likely gain back all the weight that I lost. I'm very happy to have fasted, but I want to eat. I know my body has had a good chance to cleanse itself and I look forward to eating good healthy foods. If you are to ever think of doing a fast, I highly recommend it is done with professional supervision. The above link in this post is probably the best place to go in the US. I'm sure Europe and Australia has their own fasting places. Good luck and God Bless, thank you for sharing with me in this journey.
Since completing my fast last night, I've had a few meals. The fast was broken with watermelon. A few hours later, more watermelon. For breakfast, I had strawberries and blueberries. For lunch, I had blueberries, strawberries, banana with grape nut cereal covered with rice milk.
Already I can tell my strength is coming back. I'm so pleased that I did the fast. I eat my food mindfully with thankfulness. The taste of the fruit is wonderful.
I wish I could stay in the state I'm now in. Eating only sparingly and mindfully. How happy I think we would all be if we only took in the nutrients our body required. Gluttony is the last sin that is tolerated in my country America. It is something so taken for granted. That's why I wonder why football in the US has become so popular. It's certainly not only about the sport, but all the eating and drinking surrounding it. When I can bite into a strawberry, slowly eat it, and taste its wonderful flavors, I know I'm onto something right.
If you asked people (over 40) if they could lose 50-300 pounds just by waving a magic wand and instantly lose that weight, how many would do it? I bet it'd be more than people waving a wand to gain 50-300 pounds. Fasting, along with a vegan diet, and exercise can be that magic wand. Jump start your road to health with a fast, even if it's only for one day. And see for yourself what might happen. If you don't exercise, just allow yourself a light walk. The hardest part of any trek is the beginning. Begin!