Introduction To Water-Only FastingAug 31, 2023 ● By Dr. Frank Sabatino, D.C., PhD.
Photo by hub.jhu.edu
By definition, water-only fasting means the abstinence from all food and liquids except water for some extended period of time. I myself have fasted thousands of people over the past 45 years for a wide variety of health concerns, and there is an extensive body of evidence supporting the use of water-only fasting in a wide range of health problems, including obesity.
The loss of appetite and fasting are natural to all animals, including humans, in response to disease and stress. If you observe animals in the wild or even your own house pets, you will notice that when they are injured or diseased they will often retire to a quiet and comfortable place, stop the intake of all food and continue drinking water only. When less energy is required for eating, digesting and procuring food, more energy is available for healing and repair.
When you stop eating, blood sugar levels begin to drop, and the body is forced to satisfy its blood sugar and energy needs with protein in our muscles and fat in our fat cells. There is more protein metabolism and lean muscle breakdown in the first few days of fasting, but within a few days, protein loss begins to slow down as the body shifts to fat metabolism. The ketones produced by fat metabolism in the fast are used directly by the brain as the primary source of energy during extensive periods of fasting.
The loss of protein and the depletion of blood sugar is more comfortably regulated by ensuring that the fasting person maintains maximum rest. In fact, it is important to see fasting as a deep physiological resting process.
In fasting, the body shifts from, a typical phase of growth to a phase of energy conservation, maintenance and repair. As evidence of this, the insulin-like growth factor (ILG-F), which is abnormally increased by eating refined foods and animal products and can promote cancer and tumor growth in adults, is reduced during fasting.
Not only is fat an available energy reserve in the body, but it also serves as a vehicle for the storage of waste and toxic fat-soluble chemicals that we are routinely exposed to. Many of the environmental toxins, and even internal toxic waste products, are typically dissolved in our fat cells. So not only do fat cells of the body provide a primary source of energy, but they also work like a garbage dump, hiding and storing our toxic load.
The energy that is harbored in the fasting process can enhance the mobilization of waste stored in body fat and remove this waste through organs and tissues of elimination like the skin and lungs in a process of detoxification. In fasting, the body demonstrates an intelligent control over the processes of detoxification and elimination. So that the body will utilize what it needs least to provide support for organs it needs most and through autophagy, a process of self-digestion and housecleaning that is increased in fasting, it can dissolve tumors or cysts and support the vital organs of the body.
What makes fasting even more beneficial is that while many pathological conditions are improved, there is also significant fat and weight loss, as much as one to two pounds a day. I have had people lose 20 pounds in two weeks of fasting, and as much as 30 pounds or more in a month.
Fasting is not a mystical process. Although it has been used by a variety of spiritual traditions as a tool for introspective evaluation and spiritual growth, fasting is truly just a simple process of deep physiological rest. The goal is to harbor as much energy as possible for the healing work at hand. That means rest on every level, including all the senses. The more time spent being quiet, serene and introspective, the better. For this reason, fasting is also a profound tool for creating a more mindful, self-aware life, and resolving compulsive addictive behavior.
Fasting promotes fat breakdown, weight
loss, detoxification and repair like nothing else, and is one of the most
powerful approaches for resolving inflammation and the complications of
autoimmune disease. The body-mind changes evoked by the fasting process make it
one of the most efficient and powerful tools to jumpstart any new health
program in general, and a significant and successful long-term weight loss
program in particular.
Dr. Frank Sabatino is a chiropractic physician with a Ph.D. in cell biology and neuroendocrinology from the Emory University School of Medicine. He is the author of the book WEIGHTLESS: Compassionate Weight Loss for Life and the online course: Lean for Life: The Science of Effective Weight Loss. He serves on the medical advisory board of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is the Director of Health Education for The National Health Association as well as a research consultant for the True North Health Foundation and the Complementary Medical Association (CMA) in England.