A friend introduced me to this article a while back, it really vibes with my intuition. Please take a read before contemplating a water fast.
*Please note* This is not a post intended to put you off Dr D's fasting retreat, not at all but simply to present another side of the fasting coin and inspire discussion.
Fasting: A Dangerous Game
The practice of forced fasting is one of the most common methods used to assert human control over the physical body, and to "force" health into existence. If someone is feeling ill at ease, or sick, or has a lowered energy level, the advice given by many professionals is to "fast one's way to health." This usually involves the cessation of all solid food, for some arbitrary amount of time, until the subject has supposedly reached a point at which it is "time to eat again."
The practice of fasting is founded in a fundamental inability to accept that true health requires the steady and consistent application of habits and practices that are not possible to adapt overnight. Denial of this fact has resulted in severe and often deadly Ramifications for hundreds of individuals. Many of these people still have absolutely no idea that their long fast is responsible for their subsequent health problems or disordered eating. In fact, fasting has probably caused more people to fail at reaching a state of balanced and stable eating and living than any other "hygienic" practice. It is accurate to go so far as to say that for most people and in most situations’, fasting is a dangerous and harmful practice.
How can it be that the image and idea of fasting has taken root so strongly in the alternative health movement, if it is so harmful? First of all, it should be clear by now that all sorts of bizarre and demented practices are looked upon as healthful, and yet we don't question for a moment the fact that they are misguided or downright fraudulent. From the Ritalin prescribed to hyperactive children to the Cacao recommended for struggling raw foodists, most health seekers know that even the most popular recommendations are not always wise or helpful. Fasting is no different.
The reason that fasting is believed to be so miraculous is that it results in dramatic, sudden, unmistakable physiological transformations. These are mistaken for being signs of intense healing, when in fact they are simply severe adaptations to the sudden absence of fuel. There is no physical reason for the human body to initiate healing simply because one decides that they will deny themselves food. The human body is always healing and always rejuvenating to the best of its ability, and it never desires a willful denial of nourishment unless it truly needs one. This point is key, for one of the most common advertising ploys for the practice of fasting is to point out proudly that "fasting is nature's healer" and that "all animals fast when sick."
First of all, fasting is not nature's healer, the body and it's life force are. And it is the body itself that makes it abundantly and undeniably clear that it desires food on a daily basis. It is an absolute myth that a sick animal will deliberately deny itself nourishment. Most sick animals struggle to continue finding enough food; in fact often the cause of their demise is their inability to continue to obtain the nourishment necessary to survive in the wild. There are very specific instances and situations in which the body demands that we cease eating, and they are each signaled by a very clear, completely unmistakable message from the body, telling us loudly and clearly to STOP EATING. When fasting is appropriate, it comes effortlessly and naturally, not through forced discipline and egotistical mind games.
This point cannot be over emphasized: the only appropriate time to fast is when eating feels like a forced, unnatural, repulsive action. It is at that time, and only at that time, that a fast is in order. There is so much talk about trusting the healing power of the body and its innate wisdom, and yet we are expected to believe that it is healthy and natural to completely override the signal to eat. It should be clear that this something does not add up in this equation. And anyone fasting is immediately reminded of this error within a day or two of initiating a fast, through the unmistakable warning sign of weakness and reduced capacity.
How could anything that results in severe, almost paralytic weakness be healthful? It's so counter-intuitive as to almost be laughable, if it weren't so tragic. Yet hundreds of patients around the world lie in fasting centers throughout the world believing that they can starve themselves into health. Sadly, most of them will only succeed in weakening their already depleted systems, and catapulting themselves into a nearly inescapable cycle of disordered eating, resulting in long-term damage and psychological turmoil.
So what of the hundreds of anecdotal tales of miraculous healing and reversal of disease? There is a simple explanation for the temporary positive results obtained on a fast. First and foremost, a fasting individual has completely eliminated all of the toxic foods and drugs that they were consuming on a daily basis. And of course it makes perfect sense that the elimination of poisonous substances results in the elimination of any symptoms caused by those poisons. Tragically, this is conflated in a bizarre fashion, and somehow the actual fast itself is given the credit for the healing, rather than the obvious reason that the cessation of poisons will always result in improvement.
The second reason that people often experience positive and profoundly altered emotional states of being is that they have temporarily eliminated the source of so much confusion and fear: their food. By starving themselves and denying themselves food, a person can pretend that they have no issues with food, temporarily hiding from the fact that they may have severe issues with maintaining and sustaining a healthful, balanced diet. Naturally, they feel a great sense of freedom and joy, believing that they have solved all of their problems and that they have found the answer to true health. Of course, if one fasts forever, one dies, so the choice eventually is to return to the exact same problems as before (or usually worsened) or to succumb to physical death through starvation.
The third reason that fasting seems to result in positive change is because almost every case of a disordered and sick body manifests in some way through a disrupted metabolism. Eating makes it abundantly clear just how sick the body actually is, because our organs and nutrient delivery systems are being made to do their jobs, and so it's very clear that they are in a poor state. When a sick person eats, they experience the body's difficulty with digestion, with metabolism, with elimination, and with energy transfer. When they suddenly cease the consumption of nutrition, they are in a position to pretend that "everything is all right." It's no different than a fancy car sitting broken in a driveway: everything looks great until you try to start it up. And no matter how long we leave it sitting there, it still won't start. It is no different for the faster: everything feels great when they aren't actually using their system in ways it was made for. But as soon as the fasting retreat is over and you return home and begin eating again, the same symptoms reappear, the car "still won't start." But it sure felt great to pretend it didn't need to start in the first place. Lying in a bed in a state of incapacitating weakness is no way to gauge improvements in health. Being up and about, active, alert, and striving to reach new goals is how health and wellness should be measured.
Of course, when the body is made to endure forced starvation, the rebound effect is profound. People who have eaten balanced diets for years may suddenly find themselves bingeing on hamburgers, fried chicken, and ice cream after a "healthful fast." There have been hundreds of cases in which individuals broke their fasts on meats, cakes, pies, tacos, pizza, or worse, simply because the mental and emotional strain was too great. Even if an individual succeeds in following "fasting protocol" and breaking their fast with light foods such as fruits or broth, often within a few days the body's demands for satiety result in bingeing on unhealthful, toxic foods. And usually, the ramifications last years, if not decades. The ripple effects of starvation profoundly influence the psyche on a deep level. The human body was not made to deny itself food, and the difficulty with which one undertakes a fast is the proof of this. Only through a forced, artificial, almost prison-like setting, is it even possible for most to succeed. And those who do succeed often pride themselves on their "discipline." But health doesn't come through discipline, it comes through a unity of mind, body, and nature, learning to listen to our appetite in ways that serve us. Denying that we have appetite will lead to denial of health, nutriment, and nurture.
Fasting is no different than any other "quick-fix" method of attaining health, including pill-popping or surgical intervention. Real health is accumulated through persistent application of specific health-supporting principles, and does not happen suddenly or dramatically. Learning to appreciate the slow and steady pace of a truly healthful rejuvenation process will allow one to enjoy health for a lifetime, rather than the pseudo health that one experiences during forced starvation. In our quick-fix society, it can be quite a challenge to accept that there is no place for drama or speed in a frugivore lifestyle and in the attainment of health. Fasting is an attempt to override nature by applying human judgment to the process of healing, attempting to force and control the pace and manner of the healing process.
Fasting is truly a dangerous game.
Article by Michelle Aslan
Glad you benefited from this article iLUVGr33N.
Here is the ladies website. She has some interesting articles :)
Do you agree with this Freelee? It feels like anti-fast propaganda. Do you think Doug is husteling people with his fasting retreat?
No I don't think Doug is 'husteling' people.
Just because Doug has a fasting retreat does that mean we can't keep our minds open to what others are saying on the subject? I have always questioned the role of forced fasting and I find it a valuable topic to explore. I'm all about what's optimal, that is my PRIORITY (As I'm sure its yours too Simon) Not to mention like I said - "It really vibes with *MY* intuition" which I am in touch with.
Anti-fast propaganda? No I don't think so. The lady has a non-profit AD-Free website , she isn't making any money by writing this article. She has a free ebook as well.
For what its worth we promote Dr D more than anyone on the net, its not about that anyway. This is just about exploring someone else's take on forced fasting, I'm always open to learning.
Hey Freelee, sorry for my late reply. Anyways, here goes:
I'm very much open to learning as well :)
Not making money on incorrect information does not make it true. Fasting is an advanced practice, most people do it wrong but this does not mean it's an invalid practice as a part of obtaining health, if you do it right. I think this is important to state.
Not making money on incorrect information does not make it true
- :D Yes I realise that BUT it does tend to increase the chances ;-)
Fasting is an advanced practice, most people do it wrong but this does not mean it's an invalid practice as a part of obtaining health, *if you do it right*. I think this is important to state.
- Well that is what is in question -Can a forced fast ever be the right thing to do or 'done right'?
I will continue to question it and gather information. On page 4 Michelle replies.
"fasting only seems to be totally natural when we are so sick and so deprived and malnourished that we cant get up to get food"
That was my feeling on it too.
Louel I don't think they can be compared and should be explored independently.
I dont know many people that I can honestly say have benefited longterm from fasting. I see em still undereating, eating the wrong foods, binging and slamming on extra weight, having late nights, being dehydrated, not correcting their low b12 from 20 years of digestive issues etc.
Sure, fasting has its place for seriously ill people but they need to correct their diet and lifestyle first. Its like calling the cops cos you can hear someone creeping thru the window, but is it a burglar or just the cat wanting dinner?
Â Trust your instincts BUT also use common sense. Lots of people have never lived healthy, they have never been hydrated, they have never felt what its like to have real, drug free vitality so they their 'instincts' can be warped. I talk about it in depth in this video.
You could probably ask Freelee those questions right? ;-)
No I didn't fast for 18 days.
In 2007 I fasted on water a total of 32 days (not consecutively), two periods out of those were for 7/8 days max. I'm glad I had those experiences because it taught me fasting was not the answer to my problems that I thought it was. This is not to say it isn't for a seriously sick individual.
I didn't binge on fried chicken elbo because I was an ethical Vegan but I DID have the biggest binge year of my life where I went from eating raw vegan to a month of binge-eating worth of vegan fast food - the fried chicken and tacos equivalent for a Vegan. At one time I had 30 vegan sushi plates in a row. lol ...sigh..
For the majority of individuals if their drive to eat is strong enough they will always be less discerning with their food choices, there is proof of this everywhere.
When I initially came out of the fast I felt balanced and quite normal when I started to eat (for the first day or so) but within a few days I became RAVENOUS. I had sufficient education on the optimal food choices but still chose the less optimal. Luckily I had enough pain attached to eating animal products so that steered me into better choices.
This lack of discernment is due to a lack of calories, ethical vegans even go back to eating animals because they are so ravenous. The priority of the brain in a starvation situation is to get FOOD, any food. The amount one compromises their beliefs when they make food choices post fast is influenced by other factors yes but the point remains that doing a forced fast leads to a lack of discernment for most and this can be potentially hazardous on many levels.
Of course there are always exceptions to the rule and fasting itself has it's place as the author suggests BUT this still does not mean a forced fast is a healthy path to take. A path which may lead to complications, disordered eating and other negative results.
"The human body is always healing and always rejuvenating to the best of its ability, and it never desires a willful denial of nourishment unless it truly needs one."
I have read plenty of literature on the benefits of water fasting and I was a HUGE fan but at the time I didn't realize the possible contraindications or actually understand as well the mechanisms of fasting. I now feel I have more understanding and am instead in favour of a mono fruit island feast which in my experience gave me more positive results than a water fast (plus of course sufficient rest, water and sunshine)
Engaging in a forced fast was not the answer to my problems that I thought it was going to be because it attempted to address the symptoms but not the cause.
The author makes a good point here also (quote from her site):
Two things must be kept in mind, however. The first is that there is a severe lack of long term follow-up or post-fast data, with the result being that nearly all reports of fasting are derived from individuals who were right in the middle of a fast, just completed a fast, or who were in the days or weeks just following a fast. In fact, it can take months before the ramifications of the fast fully manifest. Commonly, it is at the 8-9 month period following the fast that the mental and emotional effects begin to take their toll. Needless to say, this is long after the testimonials and case studies have been completed.
Starvation - yes people may call it 'fasting' but I believe in most cases when it's a forced fast then our physiology may react to it negatively as if starvation has set in.
I see that you have only fasted for a few days in the past is that correct? What benefits did you receive from a few days and are you eating the same today as you were straight after the fast? (which is ideal right?). From what I gathered you have been quite up and down with your eating patterns am I right? No judgment of course. :)
Yes I do agree I would have benefited with supervised refeeding post fast and if anyone absolutely insisted on doing a forced fast then I would recommend this 100%...unfortunately you can't take the supervisor home with you after the honeymoon period and this is where many people eventually turn to health-destroying foods as the Author implies. A few weeks of supervision versus a lifetime of unsupervised refeeding.
We could go back and forth forever but for me it wil always just come back to whether a forced fast is a good idea or not. In cases of extreme illness it seems it could be valuable but other than that i'm yet to be convinced of the long term healing benefits of a forced fast and actually question the damage it may do. That's the point I"M trying to make and really all I have to say on the matter because I feel I've already addressed your points.
Good question Elbo.
#Freelee did have excess weight issues for about a year after.
#She did jump straight into a more nurturing lifestyle as well.
#Doug Graham's place is the ONLY fasting retreat I rate. Cos you actually get told how to eat properly. Yet most people ignore that part and just rely on the fast for a magic cure all!!