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 Natural Life Extension: Fasting, Mono-diets and Raw Food Days (and Chelation Therapy) 

In Chapter 4 I provided evidence of the usefulness of fasting in health promotion. Why and how should this knowledge be incorporated into a life extension prograrnme/calorie restriction diet? First, the why.

Benefits of fasting

  1. Fasting provides the body with the opportunity for a 'physiological rest' which allows the speeding up of detoxification and healing processes. A demonstration of this was provided by fasting treatment in Japan of people poisoned by toxic cooking oil, in which 'dramatic' relief was seen after seven to ten day fasts (American Journal of Industrial Medicine (1984) 5:10-53), and also by treatment of acute pancreatitis where fasting was found to be preferable to drugs or other therapy (Digestion (1984) 30:224-30).

  2. Fasting enhances irarnune function. We saw evidence of this in treatment of auto immune diseases such as glomerulonephritis, where fasting shortened its early stages and improved the chances of recovery (Lances (1958) i:760-3). The conclusion of the doctors involved was that 'all patients with acute glomerulonephritis should fast'. In another auto immune condition, rheumatoid arthritis, patients who fasted showed significant improvement in their ability to grip, in reduction of pain and of swellings, lowered erythrocyte sedimentation rate and improved general functional ability, after a seven day fast (Clinical Ecology (1984) 2:3:137 44). These benefits were confirmed by the one year Norwegian study referred to in Chapter 4.

  3. Fasting stimulates production of growth hormone (see Chapter 7) which is of particular significance to life extension. This phenomenon is not as obvious in people who are very much overweight.

John Mann, writing in Secrets of Life Extension (Harbor, San Francisco, 1980) said: 'The effectiveness of fasting as a life extension measure is fairly well backed by experimental evidence.' He describes one research study in which rats were made to fast on one day out of three throughout their lives (normal eating on the other days). They achieved a 20 per cent increase in life span compared with non-fasted rats. This has nothing to do with calorie restriction, according to Mann, who cites enhanced general function and growth hormone stimulation as more likely factors.

Naturopathic medicine
Fasting for health has been an integral part of naturopathic medicine for a century or more, and practicing naturopaths in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa and North America will have experience of these methods, as will medical doctors who use the methods of treating allergy called Clinical Ecology, since they use five day fasts as a normal measure to investigate and treat chronic allergy.

So how should you go about achieving some of the benefits of fasting, since spending one day in three on water for the rest of your life may well be unappealing! Guidance and advice from such a practitioner as mentioned above is advised should there be any reason (see below) why short fasts should not be conducted on your own, or if you require the support of someone experienced in the method when you first start.


  1. First, this is not something to do for anything more than a short period (defined as 48 hours) unless you are under the supervision of a health professional who understands the physiology of fasting. Even short one and two day fasts require guidance and this is provided below.
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 About The Author
Leon Chaitow ND, DO, MROA practicing naturopath, osteopath, and acupuncturist in the United Kingdom, with over forty years clinical experience, Chaitow is Editor-in-Chief, of the ...more
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