Nobody who thoroughly understands fasting, harbors any doubts about its possibilities and limitations. Most people who have voluntarily resorted to fasting for recovery from chronic illness, have done so as a last resort. They are usually in a very bad condition before they consent to fast. That the results have been so great, when we consider the type of patients that fast, is remarkable. That there are those who fast with only meager results must be expected, from the fact that so many of those who consent to fast are nearing death at the time. Fasting does not enable the body to accomplish miracles. But ninety-five per cent of chronic sufferers may undergo a properly supervised fast with every hope of good results.
DIETING VERSUS FASTING
A light diet, such as the eliminating diet, is offered as a substitute for fasting, particularly in chronic "disease," While we employ such diets quite often and recognize their value and utility, they are not the equal of the fast. One difficulty with them lies in the fact that the patient eats just enough food to keep his appetite alive, but not enough to satisfy it. My experience with fasting and light eating, and so-called "fruit fasts" has been the same as that of Sinclair's; namely, that the light eating is just enough to keep one ravenous, whereas on the fast all desire for food soon ceases. He also says that on the "fruit fasts" he would get so weak he could not stand up-- "far weaker than I ever became on an out-and-out fast." In many cases, a fruit diet following a short fast, causes the patient to feel weaker than during the fast.
Many of those who freely employ fasting in acute "disease," when there is no power to digest food, and no demand for food, object to fasting in chronic "disease," where there still exists more or less digestive power and an appetite, even though morbid. For example, Dr. Kritzer cautions against fasting where there is a strong abnormal craving for food, due to gastric disorder. He thinks the mental process involved in the suppression of such a strong craving is unwholesome, that it produces a general tension which is not conducive to elimination. It may even contribute to the manufacture of new toxins, for, at best, there is an increase of acids in the system during the fast with corresponding lessening in the alkalinity of the blood which normally bathes the tissues."
Continuing, he says, "Fasting is not indicated in the treatment of chronic diseases. On the contrary, such patients should be dieted on foods rich in organic salts until their semi-starved tissues become revitalized and capable of promoting better tissue changes--metabolism." I need hardly discuss these statements at this place as they are sufficiently answered in preceding pages. They are based on mistaken notions about chemistry changes in the body during the fast and on psychological half-truths that are the present vogue. The value of fasting is too well-established to be overthrown by these fallacies.
Dr. Kellogg says: "It is true, as above admitted, that during a prolonged fast, any surplus of protein which may be present, may be used up and accumulated tissue wastes may be lessened in amount. But the amount of such accumulation is too small to justify the expensive method adopted by the faster for their elimination. The faster, in order to free himself of three pounds of waste or undesirable material, sacrifices an amount of healthy and useful tissue ten times as great. Why should one throw away thirty pounds of good muscle, brain, nerve, heart and other useful, vital machinery, in order to get rid of three pounds of waste material, which can be easily gotten rid of by simply restricting the diet and increasing the intake of water?"
If restricted eating and water gluttony could do what fasting does, perhaps there would be no need for a fast in chronic cases. But the restricted eating seldom accomplishes these--perhaps never produces all of the benefits of fasting. Fasting accomplishes more than the mere removal of a possible three pounds of excess protein.