Fasting: Clear Mental State and Longer Life

fasting.jpg

“The best of all medicines is resting and fasting”
~Benjamin Franklin

In the beginning of January of this year, I decided to do a little experiment on myself. I have read about the benefits of fasting for many years, and was determined to experience them for myself.

I went four days without eating, and the only things I consumed were water, and a 8oz vegetable/fruit juice smoothie in the middle of the day. The first day was a bit difficult (due to detoxification symptoms), but it was all smooth sailing from there (minus the occasional temptation to eat from family and friends).

During the fasting period I felt light, agile, mentally focused, happy, and ready to take on the world. I felt as if my energy was being used to promote proper bodily functions, instead of being suppressed by my digestive system.

It should be noted that while I do some medical research, and finishing up my Master’s in biomedical science, that you should consult a medical professional, such as your doctor, before starting a new fasting regimen.

Benefits of Fasting

  1. Clear mental state: Fasting has been shown to avoid mental fatigue and promote mental clarity during stressful situations.
  2. Longer life: Many experiments done on animals have shown that calorie restriction is responsible for longer life spans when comparing animals to their non-fasting counterparts.
  3. Reduce digestive workload. Without any food in your stomach, your whole digestive system will not require any energy.
  4. Fight illnesses. Since you will have reduced your digestive workload, that spare energy will be able to go towards the immune system, and fight infections.
  5. Detoxification. Typically the body only gets a taste of cleansing each night while we sleep. A fast facilitates deeper cleansing and gets rid of toxins such as dead cells, extra fatty tissue, intestinal mucus, toxins in blood and lymphatic systems, cholesterol and many others.
  6. Self control/discipline: Fasting requires a great deal of discipline. Especially if you have people around you not only eating food, but encouraging you to do the same thing. Requiring discipline turns into increasing discipline.
  7. Weight Loss. During my fast I lost about 4lbs, which I imagine to be pure toxins. It’s been over a month, and not only have I not gained it back, but I lost additional weight. Mainly using my simple target weight method.
  8. Increased energy: Another benefit that comes from the reduction of digestive workload is the overall gain of energy for the entire body.

“Fasting is an institution as old as Adam. It has been resorted to for self-purification or for some ends, noble as well as ignoble.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

Types of Fasting

There are several types of fasting, and depending on your health, and other situations, you can decide which one works best for you. When I fast, I tend to choose the juice fasting, but I find it important for you to make your own decisions about how you will treat your body.

  1. Juice fasting: Considered the best choice for detoxification. This is because you aren’t completely eliminating intake of enzymes and nutrients, which makes the cleansing process easier to withstand.
  2. Water fasting: This method of fasting requires more calories from your body, and is a harder method of detoxing.
  3. Full Fast: This way of fasting involves no food, or drink, and is by far the hardest to undergo.
  4. Raw food diet: This diet does not require eating any less. It merely requires consuming raw fruits and veggies, and nothing else. The detox effects will be similar to the juice fasting, but will take longer to effect.

Fasting Frequency

  • One day per week. This is a basic upkeep fast.
  • Three days every four months. A slightly longer upkeep fast.
  • Nine day fast, twice a year. Fast beginning of summer, and beginning of winter, to cleanse in conjunction with climate change.

Fasting Process

Now that you have a good idea of what fasting is, the benefits of fasting, as well as some types of fasting, it’s time to consider how to go about fasting.

  1. Pre-fast preparation: It is important to prepare for a fast, especially if your diet is full of toxins, or if you are ill or overweight. Begin by gradually switching to all fruit/vegetable consumptions two weeks before the start of the fast. What this will do is decrease the symptoms associated with detoxification, and make this cleansing a much easier process. You can also begin to perform calorie restriction, and eat less, several days before the fast begins.
  2. During fasting: Once you have decided on fasting frequency and type of fasting, it’s time to fast. You may want to avoid demanding physical activity and engage in something more relaxing like reading, stretching, walking and meditating. Once you know how your body reacts to fasting, you can experiment as to what kind of demands you can place on your body during a fasting state.
  3. Breaking fast: When breaking a fast, you may want to begin by drinking fruit/vegatable juices, and than switching to eating small pieces of fruits or vegetables until your stomach gets used to food again. You may also want to take this opportunity to switch to a healthier overall diet.

Tools

  1. Enema. This is an ideal way to assist the cleansing process by washing out the colon. It can remove built up fecal matter, cure headaches, remove intestinal metals, kill parasites and create a feeling of well being.
  2. Vitamix. This 2HP machine is the perfect solution for juicing and blending. It’s basically raw power, your fruits, vegetables, and anything else you want to put in there doesn’t stand a chance.
  3. Master Cleanse. A system that several of my friends used to clear out their system, lose weight, and feel great at the same time. I’ve watched them drink this lemonade for 10 days at a time, and it’s something I will do for myself.

“What the eyes are for the outer world, fasts are for the inner.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

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Posted by in Health | April 4, 2008 | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumble | Print | 37 comments

  • http://fatladysingz.com Lizzie

    Great post Alex. I am currently vacationing on Singer Island with Emperor Anton(PixelHead) and we will be starting a cleansing diet upon our return. A fast maybe part of the diet.

  • Peter

    Give me a break. 2,3,4,5,8 are all bogus.
    2 Longer life- It is about diet, not ‘fasting’. Calorie restriction doesnt mean eating nothing.
    3 Reduce digestive workload- Ahh….. no. The acids in your stomach are still active. They will be eat at the walls of your stomach. This tissue needs to be replaced. You have a whole new stomach lining after about 3 days. New cells need energy. So they are still taking energy.
    4 Fight illnesses- This is getting rediculos (cant spell). You are saying if you stop eating…. you will have ‘more’ energy? Then why do we eat in the first place? What is in our stomachs doesnt affect what our immune system does, unless there is a harmful substance in it.
    5 Detox. Marcophanges and such (the cleaners of your body) dont sleep. They are active at any and all times. Can you give greater detail on the facilitations fasting has on detoxification (most of which is bogus)
    8 See 4. If not eating gave more energy… all of our propblems would be solved. The third world would be a hyper productive place. Looks like this isnt the case, though.

    “I felt as if my energy was being used to promote proper bodily functions, instead of being suppressed by my digestive system.”
    I think this is from the placebo effect. You think you energy isnt “being suppressed” (What?) so you feel better or more energized.

    If you want to lose wait, and live longer then exercise. Doing that everyday takes more willpower than not doing something for 4 days. And those benifits are well cataloged.

    Peace

  • http://www.smtng.smtng normality

    Honestly you are very disturbed..
    That’s a list of mega stupidities.
    My god… it hurts to know that many may believe you
    Better inspiration next time

    • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

      Sorry to dissapoint you guys. I wish I could take all the credit for this “bogus info” and “mega stupidities”. Unfortunately, despite the fact that I have done this as an experiment on myself, I am not the original owner of this concepts. They have been incorporated in Judaism, Christianity, and Muslim cultures for thousands of years.

      Many wise men have fasted, saw it’s benefited, and repeated it. Science has caught up with clinical studies of why fasting is beneficial as well. Yes, I have read them. I don’t like to site studies from scientific journals because for most people (including myself at times) such reading is a bore. They’re sitting on my desk, and if you would be so inclined google scholar can point you to a boat load. :)

  • http://www.todayisthatday.com/blog/ Aaron – Today is that Day

    Alex,

    Good, informative post. I’ve never fasted, but I did go 3 days without consuming any carbohydrates once, and it felt GREAT! Everything was lighter, and clearer.

  • http://befitandstrong.com Curtis Penner

    Just noticed how the rationale of fasting quickly moved from physical…

    - lose weight
    - more energy
    - improved digestion

    …to religious, saying Ghandi approved of it and how it has been a part of various religions for years.

    Perhaps the benefit of fasting has nothing to do with not eating food but rather the shifting of focus off of food to other aspects of your life, which often affect the food you eat AND your relationship with that food – does it feel good when you eat it or not?

    If you scarf down your food while feeling angry, could the food carry an angry message to your body and its cells?

    For now, I’ll keep eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and meditating.

  • http://www.lawofattractionforbeginners.com Dean – Law of Attraction for Beginners

    I used to fast for religious purposes years ago. I did it then more for what was “required” than actually seeing any benefits. At the time it was only for 12-24 hours.

    With this new information, I’m considering taking a new approach to fasting. I’ve also been thinking of going vegan…well, maybe just ovo/lacto/sushi vegitarian.

    We’ll see what comes around.

    Thanks Alex.

  • Anna

    i don’t know why some of you are attacking this article… Alex isn’t saying that we should make fasting a way of life and completely replace the way we eat.. its more about taking a few days here and there, breaking our routine of the SAD (standard american diet) and overeating and just giving our digestive system a rest- aka it will still be working on that carrot smoothie (however when you compare it to trying to digest a steak) it won’t be doing as much work, your parasympathetic nervous system won’t be stimulated to as great an extent, which will leave you feeling more energetic. Obviously if you continue to live on smoothies and veggies you’ll become malnourished and get sick, but a 2-4 day fast isn’t going to kill you. Of course, diet and exercise are always important, but a fast can be used in addition, and not replacing good health habits. I think this article was good actually- i might try a 1 day fast just to see what happens..

    • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

      It’s that first day that’s the hard one… Good luck and let us know how it goes =)

    • http://www.capescapes.blogspot.com Viv

      This is the most sensible attitude so far. It is all about balance. Fasting breaks the bad habits the body has got into – so you do it for a few days to get the system “tweaked” – once this has occurred you gradually introduce the “heavier” foods slowly until you reach an optimum balance where you maintain your energy without compromising all the basic foods necessary for your body’s peformance. And don’t forget – 8 glasses of water every day!

  • http://flimjo.com Flimjo

    I thought this was interesting and disagree with the doubters. Fasting is intriguing because we all eat and consume so much junk. Perhaps our digestive systems DO need a break every now and then. If you eat natural foods and avoid crap that doesn’t digest well, you migth be fine. But the majority of us don’t eat that way.

  • http://stanleybronstein.com MrPositioning.com (Stanley Bronstein)

    Personally, I have done many 4 days fasts in the past. About 6 months ago, I actually did an 8 day fast. It was definitely an interesting experience.

    I’m getting ready to do another one, I just have to wait for my schedule to open up and allow for it (or perhaps I may need to proactively adjust my schedule). I want to do at least 10 days the next time.

    The biggest benefits I find from fasting are a general feeling of well-being as my body is resting and the INCREDIBLE sense of mental control I get from knowing that I can go without food for a long period of time.

    Mr. Positioning
    Stanley F. Bronstein
    Attorney, CPA, Author & Professional Speaker

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  • http://blogaboutyourblog.com Matthew

    Nice article, I’ve done the <a href=”http://blogaboutyourblog.com/2007/09/13/master-cleanse-diet/”master cleanse diet. It’s basically a water/liquid fast. It was more for weightloss, I lost about 10 pounds in 4-5 days.

    Stumbled and I submitted this to healthranker

    http://healthranker.com/Diet_WeightLoss/fasting-clear-mental-state-and-longer-life/

  • http://www.felextan.com Felex Tan

    Fasting is a way for our body to clean up our inner body part ,In Mandarin called”DUAN SHI”,many Chinese does that expeacially after eating a lot of “Rubbish “food ,In Malaysia,there are a lot of fried items and most of Malaysian will take it as tidbit..Oh my goodnes.It cause heatness and poison to our body.So,i suggest to my friend try to fast one day,you will feel the different,he did that.His experience is more energetic after fasting.Guys and gals ,please try one day and share the experience to others.

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  • http://www.empoweredsoul.com Andrea Hess|Empowered Soul

    I’m a big believer in fasting, so I really appreciate how concisely you offer this valuable information.

    A nice way to start fasting (if there is a lot of resistance to the whole idea) is a sunrise to sunset fast. It doesn’t have the same level of benefit, of course, but it does help boost confidence and willpower to start longer fasts.

    One quick word about juice fasting – it’s really so much better if this is done with freshly squeezed juices. If you are going to fast like this regularly, it’s worth investing in a high-quality juicer. Pasteurization and additives of most commercial juices really limit their nutritional and detoxifying benefits.

    On a juice fast, it’s also really important to include lots of vegetable juices along with fruit juices. Try adding some celery or beet juice to fruit juices such as pineapple or apple.

    Blessings,
    Andrea

  • http://groupwritingprojects.com/ Jacob Share

    Great article Alex.

    As a religious Jew, I fast 6 times a year. Aside from one week where there are 2 fasts, the others are fairly well spread out in the calendar. I can’t say that I enjoy the fasting but I do think it’s a good thing and have seen most of the benefits you mention above.

    One reason I also like fasting is the social responsibility aspect. Going without food gives you a small but hard-hitting glimpse of what starving or poor people have to deal with regularly, and keeps you from taking for granted your own (hopefully better) situation.

    Stumbled!

  • http://asiaheppersonrock.blogspot.com Asia’h Epperson

    I am not sure if there will be long term effect on the body if going without food for longer period. I won’t advise others do what Alex did and as he said you should consult a medical professional, such as your doctor, before starting a new fasting regimen..

    I did try for a week and it is tough for the first two days, in fact, I feel weak. But, after that everything is ok. For now, I don’t really go that extreme, but, I combine both exercise and light diet and it show better result in term of my weight control and fitness.

  • http://www.martialdevelopment.com/blog/ Chris | Martial Development

    A very interesting topic. There is a Chinese fasting technique called bigu, which some people can apparently sustain for weeks or months without ill effects.

  • http://fitnessforbusymoms.com Coop

    Intermittent fasting is becoming quite the topic in the fitness world.

    Many athletes are touting fat loss and less complications of planning meals etc.

    I like to eat too much.
    Best,
    Coop

  • http://www.pixelheadonline.com/blog/ Adam

    A little more than one hour to go on my first 24hr juice fast Alex. I reduced my diet to mainly veggies and fruits the day before. I am just guessing here, but it is probably not a good idea to break the fast by drinking a beer…lol…

    • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

      I would personally break it with a nice banana/berry smoothie. A beer might work, let me know how it works. =)

  • http://marketsecrets.biz/ Caleb

    In my early 20′s I used to fast for the last 72 hours of every month and the benefits exceeded beyond what you’ve covered here…but why did I stop?

    Oh yes,now I remember,I physically got too small and I also grew out of touch with ‘regular people’. This reminds me of something I once heard: “Fasting too much can sometimes make you too clean for the people you’re trying to save/help.”

    Adam: It wouldn’t be so much of a big deal if the beer is naturally brewed with NO additives ;)

  • http://www.pixelheadonline.com/blog/ Adam

    No beer…maybe I will have one this upcoming weekend though. Fruit and small bowl of oatmeal did the trick.

  • Fasting

    It’s BS. I am doing it not by choice and it is terrible.

  • http://www.pixelheadonline.com/blog/ Adam

    I remember fasting for a blood test. Those really bite, because often times I had failed to prepare. Unlike this time when I started eating fruits and veggies the day before, and reduced the calories prior to the fast. I also drank juice, which I don’t do when I fast to give blood.

    • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

      It’s okay because they give you juice and cookie when you’re done!

  • http://www.selfgrowth.com/experts/stanley_bronstein.html MrPositioning.com (Stanley Bronstein)

    I try to fast every 4 to 6 months. I’ve done 4 days many times, but about 5 months ago I did an 8 day fast. That was a very interesting experience. I could have gone longer, but I gave out after 8 days. Afterwards, I wished I would have gone longer.

    I recommend fasting, in the proper circumstances. I’m getting ready to do another one in the near future.

    Stanley F. Bronstein
    Mr. Positioning
    Attorney, CPA, Author & Professional Motivational Speaker

    • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

      I’m going to do my next one as soon as school ends. Before that I’m very non-committal to anything that has to do with changing my routine. Let’s go Finals! =)

  • Igor Balgavi

    Great article.Thanks.

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  • Katy

    I have bookmarked your page Alex. I have done a 3 days fast years ago and felt amazing and full of energy at the end, even my friends thought my skin looked more youthful and they didnt know I was on a fast.
    I like the way you are introducing the benefits of fast and I have decided to start a 3-4 days fast again to start afresh, healthier and happier for 2009.

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  • ChabrellIgan

    God dag! Kan jag ladda ner en bild fran din blogg. Av sak med hanvisning till din webbplats!

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