Fasting Therapeutic Benefits and How It Differs From Starvation

Fasting has been practiced for a long time. Even Jesus in the Bible fasted for 40 days and nights. Probably, prior to his time, people were already practicing it.

In fact, passages in the Bible mentioned about fasting as early as Moses time when he received the 10 CommandmentsExodus 34:28. Elijah also fasted as mentioned in 1 Kings 19:7-9, and of course, Jesus fasted for 40 days and nightMatthew 4:1-11.

Humans and animals practice fasting. To these days when an animal is sick like cows, horses, dogs, cats, etc. When they’re sick, they stopped eating for a day to a few days, and resume eating when they feel good.

Humans, on the other hand, seem to have forgotten the practice except for Muslims where they do it annually during the time of Ramadan.

Everyone has a physician inside him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food. But to eat when you are sick is to feed your sickness. -Hippocrates

Today, fasting is starting to come back as a practice for health recovery and therapeutic purposes. Basically, during fasting, no solid foods is consumed.

This may look like starvation, but it’s really not. There is a difference between fasting and starvation. Starvation

Fasting vs Starvation

Fasting as in water fast is consuming water only and forcing the body to rely on its stored fatty tissue. In other words, fasting is fat burning.

On the other hand, when the body consumed all the fat storage and the body starts to burn muscle, this is the point of starvation. When fasting, don’t get to a point the body starts burning muscles. The purpose would to fast and never to starve.

Now, there are different ways to fast including intermittent fasting, water fasting, and juice fasting.

How Long Should Fasting Lasts?

I’ve covered intermittent fasting in the past as this is the kind of fasting that I’ve been doing for more or less a year now. With intermittent fasting, you can’t get to a point of starvation because it only lasts less than 24 hours.

Typically, intermittent fasting is done depending on one’s preference; for first timers, 12 hours without food is a good start, then increase the time between 16 to 18 hours. Myself can do it for 24 hours.

Water fasting, on the other hand, can last up to 3, 5, 10, 20, and even 40 days. When doing a water fast for 3 to 5 days, there is no need for a medical supervision particularly for those who have done it previously or regularly and are healthy individuals.

Doing it beyond 5 days should be supervised by a medical professional unless one is already doing it several times.

Another important to consider, those with medications that can’t be stopped should not take fasting. Water juice may be suitable but it should be supervised with a medical professional for safety purposes.

Therapeutic Benefits of Fasting

Although personally I haven’t done beyond 5 days of fasting, but I can tell based on actual experience there is a sense of lightness, but not in the sense I’m about to pass.

It’s a different feeling and I’m not tired during the day. The energy level just keeps flowing and my focus is so clear.

In fact, during times when I’m about to do a difficult work and I expected it to be a long one, I do intermittent fasting and sometimes that intermittent fasting can turn into fasting for 3 to 4 days. All I consumed is water, a little stretching, and some push-ups.

Scientifically, I don’t have any idea what’s going on inside and the benefits I’m getting. Thankfully, there are people particularly medical professionals like Dr.Kapler who provided us with information regarding what’s happening during a “fast”.

Quick List of Health Benefits

And, here are the following benefits he mentioned in his video presentation Fasting – Safe and Effective Use of an Ancient Powerful Healing Therapy.

  • Inflammatory processes subside
  • Blood sugar normalize as insulin receptors clear
  • Boost in the immune system
  • Blood pressure normalize
  • Blood flow increase as arteries widen and makes the blood less viscous
  • Inflamation in the skin, bladder, bowel subside
  • Headaches often improve
  • Recalibrate the taste buds plus food addictions and cravings are not that intense

In my case, I don’t have a blood pressure issue, nor any other health conditions that require medications.

In short, I’m a healthy individual doing fasting on regular basis. One thing I’ve noticed, and probably this is the effect of my taste buds recalibrating and I think the brain, as well.

When I see sugary foods and various other highly processed foods, I don’t react to them anymore.

Previously, it’s almost irresistible for me and I always take a few bites, and although I have control over it, sometimes it just becomes uncontrollable. Right now, it’s gone.

Even if foods surrounds me, my brain doesn’t go crazy anymore and I can talk to people on the table without me eating at all.

What Happens Inside The Body During Fasting

Body On Fasting

Prior to embarking into fasting, it would be very helpful to know what’s going on inside the body when you begin not to eat solid foods, but water.

One of today’s prominent physician and advocates fasting is Dr. Michael Kapler who also created the Fasting – Safe and Effective Use of an Ancient Powerful Healing Therapy said;

  • First 24-hours of fasting, the body burns glucose present in the bloodstream, and hunger occurs.

  • 24 – 48 hours, the burns glycogen from muscles and tissues.

  • 3 days and beyond into fasting, the body starts to burn fats.

    This is the point where ketosis(similar experience on people eating ketogenic diet) begins and burning off fat starts to happen.

    Good news, starting the 3rd day of fasting, hunger seems to go away, most of the time at least as some may still experience hunger. During the 3rd day and beyond, the body starts it detoxification process and eventually healing process.

Does Fasting Burn Muscles Instead of Fats?

Some people like the critics are worried about that fasting they’re going to be burning muscles instead of fats, and conclude fasting is dangerous.

The good news, as what I’ve discovered from the documentary Science of Fasting, Yvon Le Maho studied the body’s limit for fasting, at least in the animal scenario like penguins as it’s impossible to conduct the experiment on humans for obvious ethical reasons.

The idea why critics think fasting as dangerous it’s because as the body feeds on its own resources during fasting, it is using its reserve of protein. The muscles are made of proteins and so does the heart compose of muscles. When half of the proteins disappeared, the risk of death can happen. This is the point of starvation.

To determine the level of protein used up during the penguin’s fasting, Yvon Le Maho and his colleagues tried to measure the limits.

Their findings were remarkable, during the duration of the penguin’s fasting period, proteins only provided 4% of the daily energy expenditure. On the other hand, fats provided the remaining 96% towards energy expenditure.

So far so good, it’s perfect as the body is able to conserve its protein reserve. The fat supply depending on the available fat reserved, and penguins have reserved up to 100 days of supply.

No wonder male penguins can sit on the egg while waiting for the return of the female for up to 4 months without eating.

Study of Fasting on Rats

Well, fasting certainly works on penguins, but what about other animals that doesn’t do any fasting at all, or at least animals don’t have a reputation as professional “fasters” like rats?

Yvon Le Maho colleagues conducted a separate experiment on rats to measure protein and fat utilization during a fast. Surprisingly, the results are similar to that of the penguins.

Yvon Le Maho said as quoted from the documentary;

If the mechanism is common, it means that this mechanism has existed ever since there have been animals on earth, and we can see that man has the same capabilities. So, fasting instead of being dangerous, it’s an adaptation which existed from the earliest life on on earth. With at least the limit we’ve identified presents no danger.

The ability to fast must have been coping mechanism shaped by evolutionary history. On that scale, there’s not much of a gap between man and penguin. On the other hand, scientific studies found an adult with a height of 1.7 meter and weighs 70 kg has approximately 15 kg of fat reserves, which is enough for a healthy person to keep going without food for up to 40 days.

Well, it’s not a surprise at all why Jesus, Moses, and many others who were able to fast for 40 days and nights. If you want to learn more about the fascinating information of fasting which I stumbled on, watch the “Science of Fasting” documentary.

It’s not free, but I think it’s worth getting if you’re interested in learning more and planning to do fasting. I’ve already doing intermittent fasting, but the longest I’ve done is 5 days.

Fasting To The Extreme

Being able to fast for 40 days is really considered extreme. In our modern times, for most people who are not familiar with fasting, this is impossible, but there are those who have been able to do 40 days of fasting like Don Tolman.

However, and this probably will blow your mind if I told you there are people who don’t eat at all except water, and even others don’t eat or drink for decades.

In my quest to digging deeper into the reality of fasting, I came across with a documentary entitled “In The Beginning There Was Light” by Peter Straubinger, an Austrian filmmaker.

Again, this documentary is not free, but you can buy a copy from Amazon.com, or if you want you can rent it at Vimeo. If you want to have a glimpse how this documentary started, here’s an interview with Peter Straubinger by Jasmuheen, who herself don’t eat solid foods anymore.

…and here’s another video where Peter interviewed Jasmuheen back in 2006.

Oldest Recorded Incidence of Fasting

Now, going forward with what I call extreme fasting. In the documentary as Peter Straubinger dig deeper into this fasting or not eating for many years, he found the oldest recorded of this type of fasting was in China.

So far, according to Peter Straubinger, Chinese Taoist tradition has the oldest documented incident of living without food.

Yuan Limin, Kung Fu Master;

The first documented cases are from the Warring States period more than 2,000 years ago. Back at those time, some people had already achieved the state of “Bi Gu”. What does “Bi Gu” mean? “Gu” literally means “grains”, but symbolically stands for all food. “Bi” means “to avoid”. One avoids food and by doing so achieves health and vitality. That is the meaning of “Bi Gu”.

You Xuande, Toaist Grandmaster added;

Just because we claim “Bi Gu” is possible doesn’t mean one should arbitrarily try to achieve it. One must learn the right technique, seek the help of a teacher. One can learn “Bi Gu” through Qigong, which plays an important role in Taoism. “Bi Gu” should not be confused with a conspicuous denial of food. To practice “Bi Gu” it is best to choose a clean environment with plenty of negatively charged ions and oxygen.

Fasting as a Therapy

Upon going through all the research I’ve done and after watching these documentaries, there’s one thing I can tell; fasting has a therapeutic and healing effect on the body.

Fasting therapy has been used in countries like Russia, and Germany.

In the U.S., fasting has been under clinical trials for chemotherapy patients…thanks to the work of Valter D. Longo, a researcher at the University of Southern California.

USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center through Dr. Tanya Dorff carrying the clinical trials.

Final Thoughts

While I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for more or less a year now, I’ve always been hesitant to go on a water fast beyond 5 days. That’s the longest time I’ve fasted so far, and I’ve done it twice.

It felt great and although there is some sort discomfort, but very minimal. I know for a fact that famous people in the past fasted for 40 days including those mentioned in the Bible.

But, not until recently when I came across with Don Tolman’s interview where he mentioned he had fasted for 40 days, too. I said no way a modern man can do that. Yet, it turned out to be possible and he is not the only one doing it.

Then, I’ve stumbled on Dr. Kapler’s videos on YouTube until I came across with is presentation on Fasting – Safe and Effective Use of an Ancient Powerful Healing Therapy, which is contains information vital for anyone who want to get into fasting for the first time.

This is where I first came to know there are treatment centers like Buchinger Clinic and Charite Krankenhaus in Germany, the one in Russia featured in Science of Fasting documentary, and True North Health Center where Dr. Kapler is connected also.

Seeking Professional Assistance

If you’re someone with an illness who want to get into fasting therapy, get in touch with your doctor and see how he/she respond to it and ask medical supervision throughout the duration of fasting.

Otherwise, if your doctor may not recognize the idea, you can try finding a medical practitioner with a reputation for using fasting as a therapeutic approach, or part of a treatment process. Dr. Klaper’s website might be able to provide some of the information you need.

If fasting is new to you, this may seem weird in the beginning especially that we’ve been educated to eat every day when we feel sick.

That’s the contrary to the concept of fasting. In order for the healing process to begin, one should abstain from eating or simply do fast. And, to me when I was not yet aware the benefit of fasting, it’s difficult to grasp.

However, thinking back those times when I was sick when I tried to eat food I vomit. It seems the body don’t want to take.

But, ignorance of the fact of fasting, I keep feeding and feeding even if I keep on vomiting. It is sort of the body is telling or giving feedback that says “allow me to rest for awhile and to heal”.

Intermittent Fasting For First-Timers

If you’re a fist time faster and you’re healthy, I think it’s a good idea to start with intermittent fasting. It’s a lot easier and I’ve done it on regular.

In fact, eating once day is easy for me to achieve, and as long as 3 to 5 days. It is also important to note, and I was not aware of this, before fasting, make sure to eat only fruits and vegetables and no meat.

During my previous fasts, I had no idea and I just eat whatever I want although I’m on a healthy and clean diet, but eating meat occasionally.

For now, I’m on a quest of getting more information about fasting, although I think the information I have for now is enough, but I think I need more and probably talk to an expert on it. So far, intermittent fasting is working really great for me.


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