This is not because of one single account, but after hearing story after story of a "fast gone bad," I no longer agree with fasting.
Firstly, some conditions WORSEN!! That's right, they don't just not go away, but they get bad.
Secondly I believe that the mindset you have to be in, in order to fast is kind of nuts - what animal would knowingly not eat unless they actually couldn't.
Recently I had a fever and felt nauseated (my immunity is low due to a staph infection and possible flu) and I didn't want to eat for about 24 hours. So I didn't. But when I wanted to eat again...I ate!!
Just because fasting has cured an ailment, doesn't make it safe. Any eliminative practice will "cure" things caused by toxins in the diet because it eliminates them. And fasting definitely eliminates all of 'em.
Lastly, I have now heard of way way way too many deaths related to fasting for it to merit doing, except perhaps in rare cases or in a medical facility with all the equipment available if something did happen.
I agree with Harley when he discourages fasting and fully support his strong views in this regard.
Hi, Julie . . . great post! I agree with you, although I've never done a long, elective fast myself.
There have been times I have lost my desire to eat due to illness, injury, or grief. That seems only natural to me. It is part of listening to the needs of the body.
But these long, planned, water-only fasts seem like extreme behavior . . . and I think people use them to try to balance out extreme behavior at the other end of the spectrum. Which then sets them up for more see-sawing. It seems to me best to pull it into the middle and just live healthfully all the way around.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience! ♥
Well I for one would like to know the exact details of how a fast is dangerous. Because as far as I know, there's been thousands of fasters in the hospitals, and they have cured their illnesses through fasting -as you say an animal wouldn't fast unless they were sick. -and that's when people do it!
Anyway, I am going to eat 811 from now on, knowing that there is a cure for my illness...
But pythagoras fasted fro 40 days and found spirituality.
I guess it depends on how long you fast, how you were beforehand and also how you break the fast.
But i would still like to know the hazards so as I can avoid them.. I know a water fast is very debilitating, but what about juice fasts?
that's good but i still would like 'evidence' of fastings going badly... i know that breaking fasts can be dangerous if you eat the wrong things.
i didn't think you were bashing fasting, just disagreeing with it is all - so I wondered 'where'sthe evidence?'
It is ashame that you do not agree with fasting. I think that fasting has the potential to be very useful, but I do believe that fasting should be viewed like surgery. There is no such thing as a minor operation and there is no such thing as 'just' a fast. I don't just think that fasting should be supervised - I think that it should only be supervised under strict medical supervision (ie. with medical staff available, blood work and ECGs etc available).
I wouldn't recommend anyone fast unless it was an absolute necessity just as with surgery. So much can be accomplished with diet and lifestyle changes that for many people there is really no need to fast. Many people just like to convince themselves that they need to fast because they want faster results and because they are unwilling to make the changes necessary on a consistent basis to achieve the health results they want.Fasting should be viewed, in my opinion, as a therapeutic intervention and as with all therapies, should only be employed when there all diet, lifestyle and emotional avenues have been exhausted.
That fasting is safe is in no doubt. When you look at the number of cases of people who have fasted, if you compared the successes to failures with drugs, surgery, herbs or other therapeutic interventions, it is much safer. There IS no safe therapeutic intervention. Only degrees of safety. If medicine was about healing and not money, then science would have already appraised the relative safety of fasting compared with other interventions that could be used. But look at the environments in which fasting patients experience problems: Unsupervised fasting, or fasting where supervision is not approached with medical standards (ie. with a full medical history, physical and psychological examination, with xrays, blood work, ECGs etc).Look at places like True North Health. They get excellent results and because they have lots of medical facilities and a large medical staff team on board, and because they only use qualified doctors as interns, rather than just your average Joe, it is a safe environment in which to fast. They perform blood work to make sure fasting is still safe. And they only fast people when they think it is safe to do so.
I think that if fasting is to avoid becoming a feared and dejected therapeutic modality, then it will have to become a regulated profession available only to those with medical qualifications. And approached using the scientific method (ie. conducting research, evaluating results etc).
Lots of people get such amazing results with fasting that it really is a gross generalisation to say that fasting is outright dangerous. It is like saying a lfrv diet is dangerous because some anorexics might adopt a similar diet and end up in hospital. Or that sunshine is dangerous because some people get sunburn or skin cancer. The details are important, as is the context.
Personally, fasting absolutely transformed my health and I am very pleased I chose to fast when I did. Although I loved the environment and retreat I was at, and had a safe, enjoyable experience, and think Doug is an excellent supervisor in many ways, I would definately recommend people to fast somewhere like TNH for safety.
Fasting is definately not for everyone, for a lot of reasons. Not just physically, but mentally too. but when done appropriately, and in the right conditions, I do believe that it can be a very useful tool for some people.
Well at the end of the day, you can die from unsafe or unsupervised fasting. That could be from something as simple as having low blood pressure and standing up too quickly and passing out and knocking your head on something. Or it could be due to severe nutrient deficiency. Or it could be due to poor liver detoxification of certain chemicals. So it isnt just going for a jog in the park or deciding not to take a multi-vitamin or stop a course of herbs. This is serious stuff.
You wouldn't pick up a book about the benefits of open heart surgery and decide that since it has been done heaps of times before you don't need a doctor to do it for you. You wouldn't decide to experiment with your body by picking up a copy of a national formulary and dosing yourself up with random drugs. You would get an experienced professional to do this for you. Why? Because the body is not a toy, and attempting to play doctor is like flirting with suicide.
Some people like to downplay things in their mind because they have magical thinking. They have projected miraculous qualities to fasting: That it will cure all, that it is a guaranteed safe process, that it will be an amazing, enlightening experience. There are no guarantees with anything as far as the body is concerned. This kind of magical thinking is based in religion, not in logic. Ie. it is forming a fixed, unmoving, unconsidered, unquestioning approach to something and approaching as though it is true.
Fasting is great, but it is not a cure all and it is not always safe. I don't recommend Dougs retreat anymore. Not because I don't think that he is a good supervisor and not because I don't think his retreat is probably one of the most relaxing, aesthetically beautiful places in the world. And not because I don't think the food is probably the best you can get re-fed onto. But because although the exceptions are exceptions, sometimes people on rare occassions can have adverse reactions to fasting, that may be picked up by proper medical supervision, either by preventatively avoiding certain people fasting (eg. by reading medical notes, doing a physical and psychological health assessment, checking bloodwork or other parameters) or by using ongoing checks, like blood and urine analysis.
I have changed my thinking on fasting since I fasted with Doug. The primary reason for this was ironically that fasting was such an incredible experience for me, physically and mentally, that I think it is imperative that this becomes a more mainstream medical intervention. One of the mistakes that I believe hygienists have made thus far has been that they have tried to create a separate profession opposed to medicine, rather than trying to use the tools that medicine has adopted to help promote acceptance: Ie. running clinical studies, recording and publishing research, getting results peer reviewed. The more studies we get on the index medicus, the more evidence we acquire for fasting. Fasting, if it is to be taken seriously in the 21st century, and if it is to be prevented from being outlawed by the medical establishment due to some potential one-off horror story of fasting that may arise that would be focused on by media, we MUST go down the scientific route and get evidence to support the case for fasting as a primary care tool.
True North Health is the ONLY facility that is run by a hygienist that has been carrying out - AND publishing clinical research. Colin Campbell (author of the china study) himself helped to write and get the research published, so I DO trust that he would not put his name to something he did not believe was safe and effective. Infact, Colin believes so strongly in fasting that he even did an interview for their video brochure, and I think he has even fasted there himself.There are other centres around the world, particularly in germany, that have published research, but these are run by mainstream scientists.
I fasted because I had inflamed bowels. One doctor suspected I might have early Crohns, but this was never confirmed as I didnt want to have tests done, since I didn't see the point. I was exhausted constantly as well and had no appetite. I did eat, despite having no appetite. I force fed myself upto 5000 calories per day, but it didnt help.
On reflection, I think that I probably could have tried just going on a long term vacation and sleeping lots before fasting. I don't know if that would have made enough of a difference, but I suppose I could have tried it. I had eaten a lfrv diet for one year before fasting. I definately didnt exercise enough that year. One of the reasons I got so exhausted was that the year previous, I was exercising 4 hours per day on week days and 8-12 hours per day at weekends, depending on whether there were extra classes outside the martial workshops I attended. I was accidentally following a calorie restriction diet. I say accidentally because I didnt know anything about calories at the time. I just thought that if you ate lots of food, it didnt matter what kind as you would get energy. Unfortunately, I was eating only vegetables as I had cut out almost all starch except occassionally millet or more rarely, rice, since I had read that grains were bad and was avoiding nightshades, pulses and fruit. Consequently my weight dropped to about 7 stone. I was very physically fit, but my body was obviously being pushed to its limits due to my poor diet.I was also severely restricting my sleep, as I was trying to be disciplined by getting up and exercising at 5am every day. Towards the end of that year, I couldn't keep up with that any longer as I was getting to exhausted.
Consequently, the following year, I went the other way and started to give my body a break from exercising. I didn't do nothing; I did cycle to a lot of places, like work, to see friends, though not consistently.
My symptoms did improve massively when I went raw - my energy levels increased, I gained almost 1.5 stone in weight, the inflammation drastically improved, my digestion was much better, my elbow that I had a hairline fracture for months that wouldn't heal, healed quickly. But it didn't sort everything out. Sleep was definately still a weak link for me. I started socialising more and staying up late and getting up early for work in the morning. And stress.
There are lots of things I think I could have done differently in hindsight, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20. I didnt have enough knowledge back then. I don't know whether I would have stayed sane if I hadn't gone to fast. I was so frustrated at constantly force feeding myself when all my body wanted to was sleep, I really don't think I would have been able to continue working for much longer as I was so overwhelming in need of rest and space away from everyone and everything that I knew.
But that having been said, I know fasting did help. the inflammation went, my energy levels very quickly improved and remained higher since. My stress levels reduced and my clarity was incredible. Fasting was so beneficial for me in so many ways that I don't know whether I could say I wouldn't have done it again. Realistically, I know that I was given a 6 week sabbatical from work and I knew I had to get well enough in that time period that I could return to work and stay sane. And I did. I reckon if I did it all over again, I would most probably fast, but I would have fasted somewhere that had bloodwork available so I could have fasted even longer. My body was busy healing something when I broke my fast prematurely and against the doctors advice. I broke it because I was worried that I was losing electrolytes due to the amount of bowel movements I had been having whilst not eating. Since there was no way to test this, I decided it was better to be safe than sorry.
Hope you feel better soon, Megan. Fasting solo is tough. Thanks for sharing.
If I did a long fast, it would be only with Doug Graham or True North.
That's too bad. Sounds like an exhausting experience.
You'll recover just fine, but your body needs food and hydration! Order a few cases of medjools and start guzzling the datorade. 20 large medjools to 1.75L of water is where it's at. Lemme know if you need sources.
Stop kicking yourself. It won't be a total detriment if you take this as a learning experience and grow stronger and wiser from it.
i'm glad that you can share this with us. i think there are more stories like this out there that aren't being heard in health communities.
i think fasting sent your body into extreme imbalance and it was really hard for you to get back to where you were prior. even 10 days isn't that long a period of time and is still enough to cause problems.
we have to remember that fasting has benefits and consequences and we can't overlook the latter.