Shall We Fast?
( Originally Published 1929 )
SHORT fasts are undeniably useful in preventing or reducing overweight. They should never be undertaken, however, for any extended period of time unless they are medically supervised. A man can live on water, for example, as long as forty days but prolonged starvation may produce problems more serious than that of overweight. There is no reason why a normal person should not undertake a limited starvation period without discontinuing his ordinary pursuits. And skipping a meal or two never yet hurt anybody, particularly a fat body.
Going without food for a day or a week or even longer is often advised by physicians. And with competent medical supervision which is alive to the dangers of acidosis and prepared to watch and check its extent, fasting may be frequently repeated and yet prove both safe and effective in the treatment of obesity.
Folin and Denis after experiments at the Harvard Medical School conclude that "Repeated fasting applied to the obese is safe, harmless and effective, provided the intensity of the acidosis be carefully followed."
Starvation by the obese causes a definite loss of body protein. The excessive amounts of fat which are lost during the period of starvation, caused by cutting down the food intake, naturally and inevitably produce a harmful surplus of fatty acids, and consequently acidosis.
Quite the most beneficent aspect of starvation properly effected is that it produces an ideal though of course only an approximate sterilization of the intestinal tract. As a result the body is freed of toxins and an effective biologic rejuvenation en-sues.
Dr. Howell at Johns Hopkins found that people with epilepsy have their attacks reduced in frequency or prevented by starvation. One explanation advanced to explain this is to the effect that the acetone bodies formed in the blood due to starvation have an anaesthetic effect upon the nervous system.
Another is that starvation causes a great diminution and simplification of bacteria in the colon and a consequent lessened toxemia.
There is no question that in obesity, which is generally accompanied by intestinal intoxication, a properly supervised starvation period is of great benefit in reducing both weight and toxemia.
Drink Lots of Water
If you undertake a period of starvation do not forget the necessity of drinking water. You ought to drink at least one glass during every working hour. This will facilitate a thorough cleansing of your entire system.
Incidents to Starvation
Starvation even medically directed with proper care may be accompanied by considerable discomfort. During the first two or three days your head may feel heavy or empty. Your breath is sure to become offensive. Your tongue will be thickly coated. Nervousness and melancholy quite often develop in a mild form.
Generally, however, on about the third day a new feeling of well-being comes over you with the grace of a miracle. Your hunger ceases, optimism and joy in living appear. Your mind be-comes very alert. When these sensations develop you will know that your starvation is effecting the results desired.
When the sensations described appear you may then turn to a carefully selected maintenance diet. There is no license, however, for your returning to the old thoughtless diet which was responsible for your becoming overweight.