This time of year always is a period of adjustment and reflection – kids are getting back to school, professionals are re-focusing on their work after summer vacations and shortened workweeks, and Jews observe Yom Kippur, a day of repentance and fasting. I’ve always hated fasting – the fatigue, the “hunger pains,” the headaches, but when I was studying for my NET exam through Dr. Joel Furhman’s Nutritional Education Institute, I learned about how incredibly healing and rejuvenating fasting can be, when done correctly. Since I’ll be fasting tomorrow, I decided to revisit his book “Fasting and Eating for Health” (I’ve also got to re-read it for my re-certification test by the end of the year).
Many of you may have read a book or two by Dr. Fuhrman but you may not know that he actually fasted a total of 46 days (monitored at a facility by Dr. Herbert Shelton, famous for his literature on fasting) as a 20-year old world-class figure skater recovering from a horrific ankle injury. He was so amazed by his quick healing and by observing some of the other illnesses cured in fasting patients that he decided to learn as much as he could about fasting and natural diets. 46 days without food is seemingly completely nuts, and Dr. Furhman doesn’t even recommend fasting for that long in his book (if you’re fasting for more than a couple days, you NEED to be assessed and observed by a physician) but it’s amazing that the body can survive that long without food and heal itself on an optimal level.
The basic idea of medically-supervised fasting in a nutshell is that it gives your body the opportunity to be at complete rest (from both physical activity and digestion) and focus on healing and detoxification. Dr. Fuhrman goes on to detail the various illnesses that have been cured through fasting, from alcoholic livers to auto-immune diseases, benign tumors, obesity, and even heart disease.
There’s too much to detail here in a blog post, but if you’re interested in this concept, I highly recommend you read his book to find out more. Fasting has been done for ages, so this is not some new fad – its an incredibly effective method that’s been all but forgotten by our “pill for every ill” society and medical community.
If you’re fasting tomorrow, be sure to know that giving your body a break from digesting foods for even a day is incredibly beneficial. To make things easier on yourself, only consume whole plant-based foods today (mostly raw) and make sure that your break your fast tomorrow night slowly and with simple foods as well. It’s also important to point out that all the stomach-rumbling, headaches, and fatigue are not symptoms of hunger; they are signs that your body is detoxifying. So feeling crappy tomorrow is actually a good thing! If you’re not Jewish, I recommend you try a day-long fast in between some consecutive days of incredibly clean eating and see how you feel. I guarantee you’ll feel a little bit more energized and healthier as a result. But if you want to try a longer fast, make sure you consult a doctor. The excellent doctors up at True North Health Center in Santa Rosa, CA supervise long-term fasting, so give them a call if you want to give it a shot. I haven’t gone up there yet, but I definitely plan to.