Water-Only Fasting Can Help The Body To Fight Off Disease – And Can Have The Most Profound Health Benefits Too

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Water-Only Fasting Can Help The Body To Fight Off Disease – And Can Have The Most Profound Health Benefits Too

by Jayney Goddard MSc, FCMA, Lic.LCCH, Dip.ACH

A recent news item caught my attention – it concerns the therapeutic value of fasting.  Researchers at the University of Southern California presented a study that explained that refraining from food for as little as two days can regenerate the immune system, and in addition, fasting for two to four days helps the body to fight infection and “flips a regenerative switch” that triggers stem cell-based regeneration of new white blood cells, thereby renewing the body’s defense system. During the fast, the body gets rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts. The scientists believe that even if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate an entirely new immune system.  In a small pilot clinical trial researchers found that fasting for a 72-hour period prior to chemotherapy protected patients against toxicity. Fasting also affects the levels of a substance in our bodies called IGF -1 and in reducing this it diminishes tumour growth and the risk of developing cancers.

The scientists at the University of Southern California said the findings could have major implications for the elderly and people suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients. The researchers tested the effects of fasting for two to four day periods over the course of six months on both mice and humans. In both cases, these periods of not eating significantly lowered white blood cell counts.  This is important as elevated levels of white blood cells can signify that the body is producing these in its attempt to fight infections, cancers and other illnesses.

I wanted to find out more about water fasting, its uses and most importantly, its safety – as it does seem a bit ‘counter-intuitive’ although this approach has been used in naturopathic medicine and traditional healthcare systems for hundreds, even thousands of years.  So, I went direct to the world-renowned water-only fasting expert Dr Frank Sabatino D.C. PhD, Health Director of the Ocean Jade Health Retreat in Florida, which is one of only two fasting centres in the USA and he says: “Water-only fasting is one of the most profound, natural and effective tools for detoxification and health recovery.” Over the years Dr Sabatino has personally supervised many thousands of fasts and has seen first-hand the incredible changes that this simple-sounding intervention can make.

Water-only fasting has been used in many cultures and is, when implemented correctly, very safe.  Actually, water fasting is quite a natural response to sickness; we see this phenomenon in nature all the time - when an animal is ill it will rest and refrain from eating food until it is better.

So, how does water-only fasting actually work? What is going on in the body?

Water-only fasting – as the name suggests is where you only drink water and take no food whatsoever and, most importantly, you must take complete bed rest.  The truly therapeutic part of the fast does not actually begin until the second or third day: the reason for this is that during the first 24 - 48 hours after starting a water fast, the body is still burning off circulating blood sugar and also sugar stored in the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. Once the first two to three days of the fast are over, your body then begins to burn fat tissue for fuel. Next, molecules named ketones begin circulating in the blood. Ketones suppress hunger and this is why fasting is not a difficult process – once you are over the first few days.

Many people don’t understand the process of ketosis correctly and fear that this could damage the kidney and brain, possibly leading to loss of consciousness and even more dire consequences. However, a group of ‘hygienic physicians’ as doctors working in this field are known (and which includes Dr Sabatino as one of the leaders in the field), have supervised many thousands of fasts over the past 50 years, and have shown these concerns to be unfounded. In fact, when fasting is undertaken in a supportive environment, with the supervising practitioner ensuring proper hydration, and total resting conditions, kidney and heart function often dramatically improve as weight and blood pressure drop. There is often a dramatic improvement in the acuity of special senses, vision, hearing etc. People wearing glasses will sometimes remark how they experience moments of absolutely perfect eyesight without their glasses.

How does fasting affect our cognitive and brain functions? 

I was curious about this as it would seem that fasting would compromise both of these.  So I asked Dr Sabatino, he responded: “In the fasting state, the brain makes a unique adjustment that ensures its stability, even in the absence of food intake. Brain cells are one of two directly glucose-dependent cells of the body. Since the brain is truly the conductor of all the instruments and orchestration of our remarkable body-mind symphony, the energy needs of the brain are top priority for the hormonal and digestive systems, and the basis for many of our cravings. In the fasting state, brain cells adapt to  utilising ketones directly for energy in the absence of available glucose. This ability is unique to healthy brain cells, and explains to a great degree, how the brain and body can thrive during extensive periods of fasting. An interesting observation is that when brain cells become cancerous they lose the ability to utilise ketones for energy. So that when people with brain cancer are maintained on sugar free diets, or even more powerfully, water only fasting, cancer cells and tumors in the brain can be starved, shrunk and destroyed to some degree.

 

Water-only fasting do’s and don’ts:

  • Don’t attempt a fast by yourself – you must be supervised by an expert.
  • Do check to see if you are suited to fasting – it is not for everyone and there are come conditions for which water-only fasting is contra-indicated.
  • Do rest completely if fasting.
  • Google articles and YouTube videos for much more information by Dr Frank Sabatino and Dr Alan Goldhamer.

 

Further information:

You can do medical supervised water-only fasting at Ocean Jade Health Retreat www.OceanJadeRetreat.com

If you’re not yet ready to do a water fast but would like to try raw plant-based vegan foods, juices as a great way of detoxing, losing weight and getting ultra-healthy, come on a CMA Health and Activity Retreat with Jayney:  www.CMAretreats.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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