| ||Naturopathic Medicine: Fasting||
The single most important ingredient in healthy longevity is love. Glorious
love, who lifts us skyward. Full-spectrum love, who knows all colors.
Without love, we perish.
Trickling down from this rainbow are the elements: clean air, clean water
and sunlight. A good stiff dose of these three basics, every day, can cure
just about anything. But since many of us live in the city, our health
care happens at one level lower. The next level is that wonderfully wholesome,
sensuous, nourishing, living stuff called FOOD. That processed, additive-laden,
addictive, socially complex, political weapon. It has become easy in the
land of plenty to take food for granted, never thinking about how or where
it was produced. The food level is a focal point for shifting into health
consciousness because it can take us higher or hasten our crash. Below
the food level is chronic use of medicine and other drugs to deaden our
pain. At the bottom of the pit greed and violence fester.
Meanwhile, back in the city we're not hunting or growing dinner. Food is
no longer a survival issue but something to look forward to every day.
Mealtimes provide an excuse to stop working; a time to just sit with friends,
family or even peacefully alone. Food indulgently satisfies our sensory
apparatus. No wonder we do a lot of it. Sometimes way too much. It's
so available; it's cheap; it's socially condoned and sinfully good. Mouth,
Familiar picture? Fasting can help but not if it's about control, competition
or rapid weight loss. These are not good reasons to fast.
A fast is best accomplished in the spirit of gentle self-purification.
The best way to fast is every day for 12 hours. Except for breast feeding
infants and toddlers, this is advisable for everyone. Digestion of food
and the elimination of organic waste uses 1/3 of our total energy intake
each day. This is because the protein molecules (enzymes) which catabolize
(break down) the ingested nutrients are intricate dynamos, only available
in live, raw food. So the more processed food we eat, the less energy we
ultimately receive from it. Enzymes also facilitate the transport of the
broken down nutrients (amino acids, carbohydrates and fatty acids) through
the gut wall, into the blood stream and into our cells. All of this catabolizing
and anabolizing (building of molecules from nutrient fractions), not to
speak of masticating, ruminating, churning, pushing, squeezing, urinating,
defecating and secreting, all takes lots of energy. And helps to wear down
our body parts. So give it a good long rest, every day.
Occasionally it may be appropriate to do additional fasting. I like to
do a "spring cleaning" for 5 to 10 days of raw foods only. It
is important to be well prepared, in body, mind and spirit for this special
journey. Please DO NOT plan to carry on with business as usual during your
fast. Plan to take it easy. The purpose of the fast is to detoxify your
body, mind and spirit. You, hey you wonderful person out there, you need
rest. Fasting is not supposed to be a struggle against the urges of the
flesh. It's a time to rest, slow down, and Be, quietly. Ideally in a country
environment without TV, telephone or motorized transportation. Some people
find spiritual holidays like Lent or Ramadan a good time for fasting.
Juiced foods are perfect for fasting because they are partially digested,
high in enzymes and incur minimal metabolic wear and
tear. Please do not attempt a water only fast. Unless you are ill with
explosive diarrhea or a high fever, in which case food abstinence is advised
until the symptoms subside. Our bodies are made of food, and we need food
intake regularly. In Oriental Medicine they say that fasting can damage
the Spleen and Stomach Qi (viz., the vital force of the digestive system).
Water only is OK for 24 hours, and can help prevent jet lag if done the
day before flying. But please, don't get macho about this; the purpose
of the fast is loving regeneration. Fasting with a close friend or mentor
can be particularly enriching.
From personal experience with fasting I know that the most difficult aspect
of the fast is to break it properly. It is best to spend about 1/2 the
time of the actual fast to come out of it. In other words if you decide
to do water and vegetable juice only for 4 days, plan to take day 5 and
6 resting also and eating small meals. One cup of steamed vegetables, a
very small bowl (1/3 cup) of cooked rice with 1 Tablespoon of miso might
be an appropriate fast breaker on day 5, followed by a fresh pressed juice
or some fruit 5 or 6 hours later. The next day add in some protein (egg,
organic chicken, fresh fish, tofu, legumes). Next add back the essential
fats, Omega 3 and 6.
Please organize your colon cleanse so that you are not tempted to overeat
for the first few days post-fast. Please do not plan a fast too close to
a commitment to significant physical or mental labor, nor the week before
you've been invited to a gastronomic extravaganza.
Fasting is a purification for body, mind and spirit. Be prepared for "spiritual"
cleansing, even if you have no idea reading these words what that might
mean. It has to do with perfectly formed drops of pure love dripping down
through the rainbow onto the top of our heads. Of course, it will be an
extremely personal experience. For me, I experience that although I rarely
schedule "food" time, when I'm not dealing with food as intensively
(shopping, chopping, cooking, eating, washing dishes) I have a good deal
of extra time on my hands.
This time can be spent walking outside, writing in a journal or starting
one, sitting still and feeling feelings, reading a strong, helpful, healing
book. Truly amazing self-discovery is possible at these times. And that's
why we dream.
|A graduate of Bastyr University in Seattle, she completed both the Naturopathic and Acupuncture/Oriental Medicine programs. Her preceptor work (similar to residencies) took place in Seattle, West Virginia and China,......more