Fasting is Mother Nature’s way of healing the human body. It is Her way of cleansing the inside of the body so that it can fully take in the wonders of the Herbal Cocktail and function at its highest level.
A critical aspect during a fasting period — and this may sound kind of odd — is that it allows your body to properly eat itself.
This actually goes on all the time. Cells get old, used up and the body recycles them. It's a natural process called “autophagy” (pronounced ah-TAH-fuh-gee) — which literally means “self-eating.” You could say it is the body’s way of cleaning house.
Yoshinori Ohsumi won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine for his findings regarding this important process.
Since during a fasting period you are not making your system work hard at digesting food, it has plenty of energy to engage in autophagy.
In our time of plenty, though — when we actually have an overabundance of food — our bodies rarely get out of the eat-and-digest phase.
The only time we do get out of the E&D phase is when we sleep, and most people don’t get enough of that. Or they eat too late in the day, making the digestive system work when it should be resting, giving themselves heartburn and indigestion, and causing them to have a restless night's sleep, especially if that meal is heavy or high in calories.
If we stop and think about it for a bit, it really is just a blip in history that the food/eating situation has been like this for a significant number of us. Throughout a vast majority of human history here on Earth we have been hunter-gatherers. We would eat when food was available and went hungry when food was not available.
You could say our bodies have been programmed to fast intermittently. Our bodies are very much accustomed to this process.
But, as previously mentioned, with all the food available now — a huge portion of which is manufactured and processed so much that your digestive system doesn’t even recognize it as food — most people rarely get to a state of not digesting.
Our digestive system rarely gets a chance to rest, recycle and regenerate itself properly. Our bodies become loaded with excess, literally “dead weight.” Eventually they stop functioning properly and physical problems/chronic diseases ensue, robbing us of our quality of life.
Getting back to autophagy, Colin Champ, M.D., a board-certified radiation oncologist, and assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says: “Think of it as our body’s innate recycling program.”
Dr. Champ, also the author of Misguided Medicine: The truth behind ill-advised medical recommendations and how to take health back into your hands, goes on to say:
“Autophagy makes us more efficient machines to get rid of faulty parts, stop cancerous growths, and stop metabolic dysfunction like obesity and diabetes.”
As Christopher Vasey N.D. writes in The Detox Mono Diet: The Miracle Grape Cure and Other Cleansing Diets:
“The profound nature of disease [and chronic conditions] centers on the general deficiencies of the internal cellular environment of the body. Disease symptoms are merely secondary manifestations — superficial and localized — of this deep problem ... Disease is not, as is too often perceived, a preexisting external entity that makes the body sick by entering it.
“It is imperative that we do not think of disease as an enemy inside of us and our bodies as battlefields. Deficiencies in our internal environment, and the poor state of our own bodies, are the fundamental problems we need to work on. From this perspective, therapy is less like combat waged against an enemy than help brought to a friend in trouble.”
Vasey goes on to state on page 33 that “during a fast, the body gradually rids itself of accumulated wastes, clearing fluids needed for transport, thereby facilitating delivery of nutritive substances to the cells, where they can be put to use.
“Before a fast, wounds and lesions are immersed in an internal cellular environment saturated with wastes — a kind of swamp obstructing pathways to the cells. Over the course of the fast, toxins are eliminated and the way made clear; minerals and vitamins can once again reach damaged regions to regenerate them.”
Fasting periodically gives the body that much-needed chance to heal itself. It can recycle and regenerate its cells so that it can function much closer to its highest level. Strengthening itself this way it can effectively “just say no” to invading and built-up toxins.
This state of periodic fasting is much closer to what our human body has become accustomed to over the eons of hunter/gatherer living. It is what our body wants us to do.
Another added plus for intermittent fasting — and the reason why most people fast — is that it can helps us maintain our weight and, if done properly, helps us to get rid of excess body fat. With obesity running rampant, this is an aspect of intermittent fasting that can help an awful lot of people.
And you actually never have to go a day without eating!
Let’s say you decide to go with two days per week of one-day, water-only fasting for your intermittent fasting. You can make the first fasting day be from 5 p.m. on Wednesday until 5 p.m. on Thursday. For the next two days, eat normally — not overcompensating to make up for “lost time.”
Then fast again from 5 p.m. on Saturday until 5 p.m. on Sunday. After that, you can eat normally until Wednesday at 5 p.m. and start the fast-eat-fast-eat weekly cycle over again.
There are other forms of intermittent fasting. It can also be limiting one’s self to a short “window of opportunity” each day during which you are allowed to eat. This is referred to as the 16-8 fast.
For example, you can allow yourself to eat only between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. every day. Outside of that no eating is allowed, not even snacking.
A good portion of the 16 fasting hours are taken up by sleeping, so that leaves just eight hours or so when you are not allowed to eat. Of course, you don’t want to cheat and overeat during your eating window of opportunity!
This is actually very close to my preferred system of eating. I didn’t even realize that it was a fasting pattern when I discovered, about eight years ago, that my body functioned better when I held off eating until later in the morning. I just knew I had a lot more energy if I ate that way.
Very much related to this type of fasting is the topic of circadian rhythms. In his groundbreaking book The Circadian Code Dr. Satchidananda Panda discovered that there actually is an optimal time for our body to consume and digest food.
According to Dr. Panda, if we stay within our eating window of opportunity, our digestive system will function as well as it was meant to, following its internal clock, or, circadian rhythm. Eating outside the window leads us down the road to health problems.
The eating window of opportunity can be anywhere from 8 to 12 hours. But, as you may have guessed, the optimal amount of time to leave the window open for eating is 8 hours. This leaves 16 hours to take a break from eating, and let fat burning and autophagy take center stage. As we just saw, this is exactly what we have in the 16-8 fasting model.
We need to do all our eating inside our window of opportunity. No snacking allowed outside the window is allowed outside the window.
According to Dr. Panda, even drinking coffee triggers our digestive system to get into gear. So, if you like to begin your day with a cup or two of coffee, then start the eating part of your breakfast half an hour or an hour later, your window starts with the coffee, not the food. Also, we need to finish our eating by the end of our window, not just start our final eating session by the end of it.
It is also a very good idea to avoid eating at least three or four hours prior to hitting the hay. How much energy do you need in order to sleep? Not too much! The last thing you need to be doing right before getting your Zs for the day is to produce energy.
Another option to help optimize autophagy and weight loss via a weekly fasting schedule is to fast for two days, then eat normally for five days.
I found this to be quite effective while I was in the midst of a 60-pound weight-loss journey. The first two-day water-only fast was a little challenging, and I did get a couple of slight headaches. But I persevered and after that I had no issues at all during the fasting stage.
During the five days following the fast I maintained my vegan eating habits, doing my best to not overeat (which can be a little difficult after not having eaten for two days). Trying to make up for lost time would defeat one of the purposes of fasting — shedding excess pounds.
The “five-two” intermittent fast followed a pretty predictable pattern.
In my situation, about four pounds were lost during the two fasting days and about a pound and a half was restored during the following week. That translates to a net loss of about two and a half pounds of unneeded body fat for the week, which is pretty darned good. And a very healthy way for the body to shed that excess fat.
I followed this fasting pattern for a month and lost ten pounds, so it was affective for me. I just found it difficult to keep going on that method long term. At least I know I can go back to it any time and lose a quick two and a half pounds.
Ironically, for folks who think they are “cleansing” themselves by drinking a special juice during the day while continuing their normal eating activities — or, maybe, drinking that “cleansing” juice once and then going back to regular eating habits, never cleansing again — the act of eating works against autophagy.
Internal cleansing comes from not eating, or eating just one fruit, like grapes, for an extended period of time.
Actual fasting — while somewhat stressful and an act that the body may not immediately seem to enjoy (believe me, it’s all in the mind) — needs to become a part of your routine. It is something that your body quickly adapts to, benefits from and will learn to love.
Move on down the page to find out about the just-mentioned very special type of fasting!
You can continue taking your herbs during a fast — I won’t tell anyone! Seriously, though, it’s fine to continue taking your herbs during a fast.
There are various types of fasts. The one we are most familiar with is the water-only fast, and it is a worthy goal. The previously mentioned intermittent fasting has been getting a lot of press. But these are not the only types of fasting, and not necessarily even the best.
A type of fast that is being recognized as just as worthy as a water-only fast is the single-fruit fast.
The fruit most-often used in this type of fast is the wonderful grape. For the duration of the fast grapes are all you can consume. This can be from two to three days, or up to two weeks, which is the maximum recommended. After a month-long break, the grapes-only fast can be repeated.
I have read of individuals who have gone for months on a fruit-only diet. While not technically fasting, I still call them Master Fasters. They have achieved a very high level of inner cleanliness. Their bodies can survive on so little for so long because their bodies are able to absorb an extremely high level of nutrients from the fruit.
A vast majority of people must start out slowly. This is especially the case if they are still eating like omnivores or carnivores. Humans are natural-born herbivores — some would even say frugivores. Any type of fasting will be easier on the body for those who do not consume animal products.
Grapes are very nourishing. They are high in alkalinity, hydration and astringency, making them perfect for a cleansing fast. As well, they are rich in elements and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphates, potassium, sodium and sulphates. Grapes have an amazing ability to rebuild tissue, which makes them so valuable while doing a fast of this type.
This one-fruit fast cleanses the stomach and intestines. Try to follow a schedule where you have a grape meal every two hours, remembering to chew the skin and seeds (if the grapes you purchase have seeds) thoroughly. This will allow you to take full advantage of the nutritional value, and the seeds can cause constipation if not chewed as well as possible.
With the way most of us eat, digesting food is a lot of work for our digestive system — especially if a person is still a meat eater. Along with that already hard-to-digest meat, add in white bread and some vegetables, all at the same meal. Then, immediately follow all that with a desert of strawberries and ice cream.
Our insides get over-worked! Our digestive system uses different enzymes to act on different types of foods during the digestion process, so the system goes haywire.
This is why consuming just one fruit during this type of fast is so beneficial. The stomach and intestines can focus on processing just one food. They get a chance to rest, leaving lots of energy to start cleaning out our insides so they can function better and much more efficiently.
Since they will be your sole nutritional source during the fast, special attention does need to be paid to the cleaning of the grapes.
Most people don’t realize that some pesticides are not water soluble, meaning they can resist cleansing rains. So, soak your grapes in distilled water, with two teaspoonfuls of baking powder and a healthy splash of apple cider vinegar, for about 20 minutes. After rinsing them, soak one more time in water.
The grapes-only fast can be helpful with the following indications:*
A good option, when one is ready, is to first do a water-only fast for two to three days. Then do a grapes-only fast for two weeks, or as long as your body says you can continue.
When you truly feel hungry, as opposed to just wanting to eat, that is when the grapes-only fast should end. For some people that will be three days. For some, seven. Others, more. Any amount is good and you can always build on that during the next cleansing fast.
Especially if it is a longer fast, it is important to emerge slowly from it and not to indulge in too large a variety of foods immediately afterward, and definitely not cooked. Your stomach and intestines won’t be ready for it and problems could ensue. It is best to eat raw food, preferably fruit, for a few days and gradually include cooked food later in the day, if you choose to eat cooked food.
Treat your body well and your body will treat you well too!
This grape fast was the type used by Johanna Brandt. She had been diagnosed with a severe form of stomach cancer in 1920. Her doctors gave her six weeks to live, but she was determined to be a survivor. She did her research and beat the cancer, as well as lived heartily for another 40 years! Brandt published her story in the book The Grape Cure.
Another book that does a really good job of explaining what happens in the body during a fast, how it heals and cleanses itself is the above-mentioned The Detox Mono Diet: The Miracle Grape Cure and Other Cleansing Diets by Christopher Vasey, N.D. He explains why single-fruit diets are so effective at cleansing and restoring the internal cellular environment. He also shows how to interpret your body’s signals to adapt the diet to your unique needs.
The great doctors of every era have stressed the fundamental role in disease/sickness played by poisons, i.e., things that should not be in the body. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, wrote:
“The nature of all illness is the same … When the contaminated humor is abundant, it will take hold and cast down into sickness all that is healthy. The entire body is attacked and disorganized.”
Dr. Thomas Sydenham (1624 – 1689) of England provided an excellent summary of illness when he said:
“A disease, however much its cause may be adverse to the human body, is nothing more than an effort of Nature, who strives with might and main to restore the health of the patient by the elimination of the morbific (disease-causing) humor.”
Professor Arnold Ehret — who can arguably be seen as the first advocate of modern-day veganism — wrote at the turn of the 20th century that he believed all disease was caused by a buildup of mucus (i.e., toxins) in the body. He was also a strong advocate of fasting.
So whatever the terminology employed or the time period when it was used, the cause of disease has always been seen as a build-up of substances — mucus, toxins, waste products — some foreign, some from the human body itself, that clog bodily tissues.
Fasting gives your body a much-needed break from digesting so that it can work on unclogging the bodily tissues, cleaning out those aforementioned toxins.
Remember, it is not uncommon to experience some weakness, even flu-like symptoms during a fast, which really is a detoxification. As the body starts to clean its lymphatic system, the lungs, sinus cavities and other body tissues will become active in this overall cleansing process.
To help your body heal itself, rest as much as possible during periods when you feel weak. Please don’t stop this natural cleansing process!
The grape fast is a great — and tasty! — way to get your body back on the road to functioning the way it should.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These words are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
You can continue taking your herbs during a fast — I won’t tell anyone! Seriously, though, it’s fine to continue taking your herbs during a fast.