Fasting is mentioned throughout the Bible for spiritual purposes, creating a higher sense of awareness and mental acuity while allowing us to focus more intently on our relationship with God. But fasting is also one of the healthiest things you can do for your physical health as well.
In the times of the Old Testament, fasting didn’t have the same impact on health as it does now. Moses and company didn’t have to deal with the environmental issues we do today. Their camels and oxen weren’t filling the air with carbon monoxide poisoning! Due to the environment we’ve created, our bodies are more toxic than ever, creating a greater need for periodic fasting. It not only detoxifies our body while providing a much needed rest to our internal organs, but it also resets the homeostatic mechanisms or internal balance of the body. During a fast, the body utilizes energy normally used in the digestion of food to cleanse itself and re-balance our internal systems.
The complex internal workings of the body are disrupted by many factors, but a common culprit is addictive substances. Fasting has been proven to speed up this internal balancing act, thus reducing the withdrawal time and intensity of the cravings associated with many addictions. A properly done fast will not only help remove your cravings for unhealthy foods, but also remove cravings for other addictive substances such as sugar, salt, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
Many people report that after a fast the things they used to crave are no longer appealing. The reality is our bodies were never designed to consume the foods and beverages that make up an unhealthy diet. But as I’ve said in past articles, our bodies are very adaptive. They not only adapt to the exercise we do, but also to our food and beverage choices. So once the system has been re-set through fasting, eating a greasy cheeseburger will often make you feel nauseous. You see, that’s the way the body is supposed to react to something put in the system that’s bad for it! But when you eat badly all the time, the body is forced to adapt and those foods no longer make you feel sick. They are destroying your health, but the body essentially makes the best of a bad situation. It is forced to make the most of what you provide it.
Fasting also re-sets the palate or sense of taste. Many report how good regular food tastes without all the butter, sour cream, salt or other additives. They can’t believe how good a piece of fruit tastes. The simple flavors of food that we often hide in seasonings or fatty sauces ignite our palates. Your new, revived healthier body will crave more healthy foods. Now’s where you need to be disciplined and not jump back into your unhealthy eating habits. Remember, your body will only crave what you give it, so give it the good stuff! Maintaining the fasting benefits comes from a combination of periodic fasts and making healthier food and lifestyle choices in between.
Start with a Positive Attitude
The better you understand all the positive physical benefits of fasting, the more likely you will be to stick with it. Look at fasting as a means of allowing your body to do some internal spring cleaning and reboot itself, similar to re-starting your computer when it isn’t running as efficiently as it should. Following a healthy fasting program is like giving every organ in your body an oil change, including filtering the blood!
How Fasting Works
Did you ever wonder why your appetite disappears when you’re sick? It is God’s built in fasting mechanism. Your appetite disappears so the body can direct its energy to fighting what’s making you sick. Your body may even go to the extreme of rejecting the food you attempt to eat through vomiting so it has a chance to do what it’s supposed to do, fix the problem.
When you voluntarily fast and food is not consumed, the body uses that energy to remove toxins that are poisoning our systems and damaging our organs. In moderate quantities, our bodies can get rid of the harmful poisons we subject it to. Unfortunately, today’s toxic quantities are nowhere near moderate. The reality is your body is running on overload trying to rid itself of the negative toxic buildup. For every ounce of toxins our bodies are able to eliminate we bring in a pound more. It’s like taking one step forward and three back.
The body’s detox systems never have a chance to catch up. When the body can no longer get rid of the toxins the way God designed it to, it begins to store them in almost any tissue in the body, including the joints, vessels, muscles and organs. Now you know where all those daily aches and pains are coming from! Then to deal with our problems, rather than fasting, we’re encouraged to pop pills that only add to the problems with more drug residue. Any machine that runs on overload for prolonged periods of time is destined to eventually burn out. Proper rest and maintenance on these machines prevents the overload and the life of the machine is prolonged. Not only is the life prolonged, but it runs more efficiently on a daily basis. Our bodies work in a similar fashion and fasting is one of the best sources of preventative maintenance. Why? Because it works in unison with the way God designed our bodies to function.
What to Expect
If you’ve never fasted, it’s safe to say your body is loaded with toxins. So as they’re released from storage, it’s very common to feel nauseous and even experience minor discomfort in the lower portion of your back. The discomfort is caused by the kidneys and liver detoxing and the nausea is coming from all the toxins being released into your system. This is why drinking a lot of water is so important. It enables the body to “flush” the toxins out of the system. It’s best to drink distilled water during your fast. With the minerals removed, distilled water acts like a magnet to the toxins and helps rid them from your body.
Fasting generally enhances mental acuity but this increase doesn’t usually happen until after the first few days of a fast because the body is busy with the cleansing process. During the first couple days you may experience a period of depression, with headaches and various pains as this process is underway. This can make the first stage of fasting difficult. But after the body has reduced the toxin buildup, the brain is fed by a cleaner bloodstream and the mental powers and clarity of thought are increased. Other senses also become more acute. Most everyone who fasts will discover their hunger goes away as their energy levels increase. You’d think the opposite would occur, but that’s not the way God designed our bodies to function.
The further you get into the fast the more you realize that food is an addiction and most of the time you aren’t hungry, you just want to eat. It’s a habit. You’ll discover just how habitual eating has become in your life and learn the discipline to control it.
Prepare for Success
I pray this makes sense and you’re ready to get your health back on track with a healthy three day fast. But don’t let your enthusiasm lead you into something you’re not prepared to do. Like I said earlier, it’s not the easiest thing to do, especially for the first timers. The good news is it gets easier and easier the more you do it. I generally do 3-4 three day fasts per year. Now they’re so easy that I often forget I’m fasting! Stay focused on the positive benefits. Generally towards the end of the second day and during the third day, the benefits start to kick in and any hunger pains you may feel tend to go away. Most all people report that after the third day, they could have continued the fast with no problem.
It’s a good idea to maintain moderate activity levels throughout the fast. This keeps the blood circulating and helps to flush out all the toxins that are being released. It also helps to keep your mind off eating. The amount of exercise/activity you do is dependent on your existing condition and how you are feeling that day. As I tell everyone I work with, listen to what your body is telling you. God designed it to give you all the feedback you need!
Recommended 3-Day Fast
You will find a detailed outline of the 3-day fast my biochemist friend and I put together at www.walkandworship.com Just click on the “Fasting for Physical and Spiritual Health” section on the left hand column. At the bottom of the page you can click on the “Fasting Program Outline” and the “Fasting Supplements” for all the information you need for a safe and healthy fast. This fasting program provides your body with everything it needs for a thorough cleaning while keeping you focused and energized.