In addition to my own personal fasts, I have fasted thousands of people over the past 40 years for a wide variety of health concerns. I have also been part of a group of dedicated Hygienic Physicians who have supervised many thousands of fasting patients over more than 60 years.
Fasting is one of the most profound, yet misunderstood, therapeutic approaches in health care. The word fasting comes from the Old English faestan, which means to be strict, to have discipline. By definition, water-only fasting is the complete abstinence from all food and liquids, except water, for some extended period of time.
I’m sure you can appreciate that in our culture of gluttony and overeating, the idea of voluntarily abstaining from food-unless there is some enforced famine-may seem somewhat absurd and insane. Yet, there is an extensive body of evidence over many years, including lab studies in a variety of species and clinical observations in humans, supporting the use of water-only fasting for a wide range of health problems including obesity.
These data are consistent with the idea that throughout evolution all life forms, from bacteria to humans, have experienced periods of starvation and food deprivation alternating with periods of abundant food availability and, as a result, have evolved the ability to adapt to long periods of starvation. (1)
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, drink water and stop the intake of all food. The loss of appetite in disease is also present in humans, but the idea of complete abstinence from food for most people in our culture is such an abhorrent frightening notion that they will continue to eat even when all their natural instincts are telling them to stop. However, it is important to realize that when less energy is required for eating, digesting and procuring food, more energy is available for healing and repair.