Water-only Fasting

8 INCREDIBLE Water Fasting Benefits

8 INCREDIBLE Water Fasting Benefits

If you’ve been looking up ways to lose weight, you’ve probably heard about water fasting. It has recently become a popular method for speedy weight loss. Social media is all the rage about it, with before and after transformation photos popping up daily.

The practice of fasting has been around for centuries. During water fasting, you cannot consume anything besides water. Various studies have shown that water fasting has health benefits such as reduced inflammation, stable blood sugar levels, and good heart health. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what water fasting is and its 8 incredible benefits.

Keep reading to learn more!

What Is Water Fasting?

Water fasting is a type of fast that restricts the consumption of everything except water. Most water fasts last 24–72 hours. Fasts longer than this should be done under medical supervision.

Even herbal teas, black coffee, calorie-free drinks, and supplements are not allowed during water fasting. The juice cleanse and lemon detox cleanse are other methods modeled after this fast.

The water-only fast method is somewhat inspired by intermittent fasting, which has shown well-documented and evidence-based results for weight loss, immune system, and metabolism. The studies cited below apply to all types of intermittent fasting, a category that water fasting falls under.

Benefits of Water Fasting


1.   Activates Autophagy

Autophagy is a fundamental process of cleaning out damaged cells, to regenerate newer, healthier cells. Basically, your body’s cells eat themselves and clean out any unnecessary or damaged cellular components. If these damaged parts accumulate in the cell, they can make it difficult for your cells to repair themselves and regrow vital structures, which is a risk factor for many cancers. This is why autophagy is essential for keeping cells healthy. It can help prevent cancer cells from growing. Several animal studies suggest that autophagy may also help protect against diseases like Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.

The nutrient deficit is a key activator of autophagy which is why water fasting activates it. Food restriction for 24 or 48 hours induces fatty change and autophagy in the liver. It peaks around 32 to 48 hours of fasting after which its intensity drops and stabilizes.

2.   Helps in Lowering Blood Pressure

Water fasting is considered a safe and effective method of bringing high blood pressure to a normal level. This is one of the water fasting benefits that is also useful in helping people to take on health-promoting behavioral changes in their day-to-day lives.

This study shows that longer, medically supervised water fasts may help people with high blood pressure to lower their blood pressure.

In another study, 68 people with borderline high blood pressure water fasted for around 14 days under medical supervision. At the end of the fast, 82% of people had a blood pressure that was now within a healthier range. Additionally, the average drop in blood pressure was also significant.

Other studies exist that prove the same, which only strengthens the idea that water fasting could lower your blood pressure.

3.   Induces Ketosis and Fat Loss

When your body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to burn for energy, it goes through a process called Ketosis. During this process, your body burns the stored fat to make ketones, which are used for fuel. Ketosis is a metabolic process that forces your body to use up the fat is stored in case you’d have no food in the future. This results in fat loss, which is one of the most sought-after water fasting benefits.

In the first 24-48 hours of water fasting, your body burns the stored glycogen for energy. After day two, your body enters into the state of ketosis. Water fasting induces ketosis more quickly than through Keto or other low-carb diets.

4.   Improves Insulin and Leptin Sensitivity

Diabetes is a disorder in the way the body uses glucose, a sugar that is required to generate fuel for the body. When blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas produces insulin, the hormone which signals cells to take sugar from the blood. Fat cells store extra glucose in the form of fats. In the common type 2 form of diabetes, cells lose their insulin sensitivity. This is also called insulin resistance which is recognized as a predictor of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Insulin and leptin are both important hormones for metabolism. The former helps the body store nutrients from the bloodstream, while the latter helps the body feel full.

This study shows that water fasting can make your body more sensitive to leptin and insulin, making these hormones more effective.

5.   Reduces the Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

A metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that raises the risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other illnesses. These risk factors occur together when your body is unable to regulate cholesterol, certain proteins, and glucose properly. Most people with this syndrome already have insulin resistance that we mentioned earlier.

Heart disease is a condition in which a waxy substance called plaque, builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. It hardens and narrows the arteries, reducing the blood flow. This can lead to chest pain, heart attack, heart damage, or even death.

This study shows that water fasting helps reduce or eliminate the symptoms of metabolic syndrome. The results of the study are promising as the 5-day water fasting showed many critical beneficial effects without toxicity.

man drinking water for water fasting benefits

6.   Lowers the Risk of Several Chronic Diseases

There is evidence that water fasting can lower the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Water fasting can significantly lower your blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides — two risk factors for heart disease.

Several animal studies have found that water fasting may protect the heart against damage from free radicals. Free radicals are reactive atoms that contribute to tissue damage in the body. They play a significant role in many chronic diseases.

Another animal study has also found that water fasting may suppress genes that help cancer cells grow. It may also improve the effects of chemotherapy.

Dr. Frank Sabatino, current contributor and special guest host of the Balance for Life Retreat Program, discusses the benefits of water fasting for fighting cancer in this interview.

7.   Improves Quality of Sleep

Melatonin, also called the sleep hormone, plays an important role in the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Its production increases with evening darkness, promoting healthy sleep and regulating your circadian rhythm.

Scientists believe that insulin and melatonin have a hostile relationship, meaning they take turns suppressing each other. Insulin levels drop at night in response to an increase in melatonin and melatonin levels are low during the day in response to high insulin levels.

A study shows that short-term modified water fasting can improve sleep patterns and daytime alertness. It causes your insulin levels to drop and melatonin levels to rise, which helps you sleep better and on time.

8.   Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation is another word for swelling. It is a reaction from your white blood cells to safeguard your body from viruses, bacteria, and other foreign invaders that can make you ill. Thus, normal levels of inflammation within the body are necessary as your immune system depends on it. But when the body goes through the inflammation process even when there are no invaders to combat, it might begin attacking otherwise healthy tissue. Inflammation can be acute or chronic. Having diseases and/or conditions such as Alzheimer’s, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer puts you at a higher risk of developing chronic inflammation.

This study has shown that water fasting is effective in treating inflammation since it induces large anti-inflammatory actions in the body.

Many foods like processed meat, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, seed and vegetable oils, etc can worsen inflammatory symptoms. When you eat mindfully or avoid all food with a water-only fast, it is possible to lessen your inflammatory symptoms. This happens due to autophagy, a process mentioned earlier, during which your cells eat their old and damaged parts so the remaining cell is healthier. If the cell can’t be salvaged, it is completely destroyed. Thus, more monocytes aka the largest white blood cells are regenerated to prevent unnecessary immune system responses.

Water Fasting Benefits Galore

Water fasting is quite popular in the wellness world. Longer fasts are recommended in traditional medicine like naturopathy as they have shown significant health benefits. But fasts longer than 24–72 hours should be approached with care, under the supervision of a qualified doctor, and by following their instructions.

After a three-day water fast, you need about 3 – 4 days to slowly come back to regular eating habits. Hence, it is advised to plan for a total of 6 – 7 days for the complete process. Ideally, a retreat or a quiet holiday is a good way to attempt this fast and reap all the water fasting benefits. The water fasting retreat from Balance for Life is one such holistic program that provides supervised water fasting. It includes a lot of perks that help you to continue your wellness journey beyond the retreat.

water fasting benefits pinterest

Benefits of Water Fasting for Fighting Cancer

Benefits of Water Fasting for Fighting Cancer

Dr. Frank Sabatino and Chris Wark from Chris Beat Cancer discuss the benefits of water fasting for fighting cancer.

Dr. Frank Sabatino is the past Health Director of the Shangri-La Natural Hygiene Institute in Bonita Springs, FL, the Regency Health Resort and Spa in Hallandale, FL, and Health Director-Owner of Ocean Jade Retreat in Lauderdale by the Sea, FL. During this time, he cared for, lectured, and inspired thousands of people over the past 40 years. He is currently a contributor and special guest host of the Balance for Life Retreat Program in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

Balance for Life Retreat is a vegan lifestyle education center specializing in plant-based vegan nutrition, health rejuvenation, stress management, and therapeutic fasting and detoxification.

Water Fasting Misconceptions

Water Fasting Misconceptions

Fasting is one of the most profound yet misunderstood therapeutic approaches in health care.

The word “fasting” comes from the Old English “faestan,” which means to be strict and have discipline. By definition, water-only fasting is the complete abstinence from all food and liquids except water for an extended period of time.

I’m sure you can appreciate that in our culture of gluttony and overeating, the idea of voluntarily abstaining from food (unless there is some enforced famine) may seem somewhat absurd and insane. Yet, there is an extensive body of evidence, including lab studies involving a variety of species and clinical observations in humans, supporting the use of water-only fasting for a wide range of health problems, including obesity. These data are consistent with the idea that throughout evolution, all life forms, from bacteria to humans, have experienced periods of starvation and food deprivation alternating with periods of abundant food availability. As a result, they have evolved the ability to adapt to long periods of starvation. 1

The loss of appetite and fasting are natural to all animals, including humans, in response to disease and stress. If you observe animals in the wild, or even your own house pets, you will notice that when they are injured or diseased they will often retire to a quiet and comfortable place, drink water and stop the intake of all food. The loss of appetite in disease is also present in humans. But the idea of complete abstinence from food for most people in our culture is such an abhorrent, frightening notion that they will continue to eat even when all their natural instincts are telling them to stop. However, it is important to understand that when less energy is required for eating, and digesting and procuring food, more energy is available for healing and repair.


Where Does Energy Come from During Fasting?

The body has a deep-rooted need for energy and the sugar in plants that provide it. Because sugar (glucose) is needed to produce energy in the body, the food we eat must replenish and maintain adequate blood sugar levels. However, since elevated blood sugar levels can be dangerous, it is critical that blood sugar is maintained in a well-defined range of normal. If you over-eat sugar and processed foods, sugar levels in the blood can increase to toxic levels beyond the normal needs of the body. The body protects itself by removing excess sugar from the bloodstream and storing it in the liver and muscles as glycogen for a future time of need. If you consume more sugar than what the bloodstream can handle, and what the liver and muscles can accept, the surplus will be moved by the body into fat cells for long-term energy storage, contributing to fat and weight gain.

When you stop eating, blood sugar levels drop. As a result, the body begins to access the glycogen that is stored in the liver to replenish the declining blood sugar level. However, the glycogen reserve in the liver is typically depleted within the first 24 hours of fasting, and if you continue to fast, the body needs to find some way to satisfy its blood sugar and energy needs. Therefore, by the second day of fasting, the amino acids from protein in our muscles, and glycerol from the fat in our fat cells are used to create sugar. This process of creating sugar from protein and fat is called “gluconeogenesis”—as in gluco(glucose), neo (new), genesis(creation)—the creation of new forms of sugar from other existing nutrients. By the third day of fasting, the metabolism of the building blocks of fat (fatty acids) from body fat becomes a dominant source of energy for the needs of the brain and body, thereby conserving and sparing protein.2,3,4 Some scientists estimate that a person between 150–160 pounds can obtain basal caloric requirements from their fat reserves for up to two to three months of fasting.


Unscientific Fears and Concerns

Due to the use of proteins and fats in the fasting state, some people have expressed concerns about the efficacy and risks of fasting.

One of these concerns is that protein muscle mass will become too depleted on a fast, leading to dangerous muscle wasting. While there is more protein metabolism and lean muscle breakdown in the first few days of fasting (about two to three ounces of protein loss per day), after approximately two to three days of fasting, protein loss slows down to about half to one ounce per day to provide for a still small ongoing need for glucose. But by the third day of fasting, the body shifts primarily to fat metabolism for its primary energy needs, so that by day ten of fasting the energy needs of the body are derived almost exclusively from fat. Furthermore, the loss of protein and the depletion of blood sugar throughout a fast are more comfortably regulated by insuring that the fasting person maintains maximum rest. If the person attempts too much activity on a fast, there will be more rapid and consistent muscle loss and blood sugar decline.

The metabolism of fat during the fasting state has generated another cloud of controversy that is unfounded and must be addressed. When fat is broken down to produce energy, a class of compounds called “ketones” is produced. This creates an acidic state in the body called “ketosis,” or “ketoacidosis” and is generated whenever there is a significant breakdown of fat for energy in lieu of carbohydrates and protein. The concern is that ketosis in fasting could damage the kidney and brain, possibly leading to loss of consciousness and even more dire consequences.

However, both scientific studies and the extensive clinical experience of hygienic physicians like myself have shown these concerns to be unfounded. In fact, when fasting is done in a supportive environment with proper hydration and under total resting conditions, just the opposite is observed. Kidney and heart function often dramatically improve as weight and blood pressure drop. In an extensive study of hypertension (high blood pressure), medically supervised water-only fasts, averaging 10 to 11 days, significantly lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, enabling people to eliminate the need for blood pressure medication.6 Rather than a loss of consciousness, there is often a dramatic improvement in the acuity of special senses, such as vision and hearing. People wearing glasses will sometimes remark how they experience moments of perfect eyesight without their glasses.

In addition, in the fasting state the brain makes a unique adjustment that insures its stability even in the absence of food intake. Brain cells are one of two directly glucose-dependent cells of the body. Since the brain is truly the conductor of our remarkable body-mind symphony, the energy needs of the brain are top priority. Especially when you consider that the brain is only 2% of our body weight but demands 20% of our daily energy requirement. However, even though glucose is essential to the function of the brain, in the fasting state, brain cells are capable of utilizing ketones directly for energy in the absence of available glucose. It has been suggested that the ketone, beta-hydroxbutyrate, is the most abundant ketone used by the brain during fasting, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the brain’s fuel supply,7 and the ability of the brain to utilize this ketone body has permitted man to survive prolonged periods of starvation.8

This ability is unique to healthy brain cells, and it also explains how the brain and body can thrive during extensive periods of fasting. I have supervised fasts as long as two to six weeks for certain pathological conditions, and while there is fatigue and an increased need for rest, a person is still remarkably stable in body and mind. An interesting observation is that when brain cells become cancerous they lose the ability to utilize ketones for energy. So that when people with brain cancer are maintained on sugar-free diets, or even more powerfully, water-only fasting, cancer cells and tumors in the brain may be starved, shrunk and destroyed to some degree.


Detoxification and Elimination

Fat is not only an available energy reserve in the body, but it also serves as a vehicle for the storage of metabolic waste products, toxic fat-soluble chemicals, and environmental toxins that we are routinely exposed to.

When fat is being utilized in fasting, the toxic debris stored in fat tissue will also be mobilized from these cells back into general circulation. This makes the toxic load of the body ripe for removal. Here’s where fasting exerts a profound benefit. Since fasting is an energy conservation process, and energy is not being used in the procurement, digestion, and utilization of food, the energy that is harbored in the fasting process can be diverted to enhance the mobilization and elimination of waste. This mobilization of waste from storage areas, and the circulation and removal of this waste through organs and tissues of elimination is what is more accurately referred to as “detoxification and elimination.”

It is important to recognize that the body, in its wisdom, clearly recognizes what belongs in it and what does not. It will do anything in its power to eliminate any and all threats to its integrity. This work requires energy. When energy is made available in the fasting process, the body elaborates the action necessary, under the direction of its own innate intelligence, to carry out the inborn genetic directive of health and healing. In fasting, not only are the processes of detoxification and elimination enhanced, but the body also demonstrates an intelligent and very selective control over these processes. So that during fasting the body will utilize what it needs least to provide support for what it needs most.

The body needs vital organs like the heart, lungs, kidneys, bowels, etc., but it doesn’t need cysts, tumors, stones, and growths. As the body fasts, it shifts from a growth mode to a maintenance and repair mode by reducing cellular growth factors like Insulin-like growth factor-1 ( IGF-1). Thereby promoting the process of autophagy (self-digestion) which can break down a tumor or a cyst, take from it what it can use to support the vital organs of the body, and eliminate the rest. That’s why we often see cysts, tumors, and stones break down and dissolve during fasting. As fasting is prolonged, this autophagic process is also an additional attempt to produce a small amount of glucose from these extraneous tissues, and conserve and spare protein muscle mass in the process. I have monitored women having uterine fibroids or ovarian cysts that significantly shrink and dissolve after several weeks of fasting. Some of these changes can sometimes occur in relatively short periods of fasting. I had a woman come to me with fibrocystic breasts that looked like they were full of shrapnel on a mammogram. After just seven days of fasting, the breasts were virtually clear!


Benefits of Fasting

Fasting has improved many pathological conditions, including chronic inflammation, autoimmune diseases (lupus, rosacea, rheumatoid arthritis), asthma, high blood pressure, ulcers, heart disease, irritable bowels, colitis, allergies, depression, anxiety, and even addiction, as it also promotes significant fat and weight loss.

In the early days of fasting, weight loss can be as much as 1-2 pounds per day. However, this weight loss will taper off to some degree as the fast ensues, often reducing to a half a pound per day in the latter stages of more extensive fasts. In a human study, weight loss caused by fasting was initially rapid, as much as 1.5-2 pounds per day during the first week of fasting followed by 0.5-1 pound per day by the third week of fasting. And as much as a 20% loss of body weight occurred by 30-35 days of fasting.9 It is not always true, but usually the more obese the individual is at the start, the more dramatic the initial weight loss is.

It is important to keep in mind that fasting is just a profound process of deep physiological rest. That’s the main reason fasting is only recommended in a resting state. Typically, other than going to the bathroom and simple activities of daily living, no other physical activity is allowed. The goal is to harbor as much energy as possible for the healing work at hand.

That means rest on every level, including all the senses. So, while watching TV, listening to music, playing on the internet, etc. are okay during the fast, the more time spent being quiet, serene, and introspective the better. It is so beneficial to give your eyes, your ears and your brain a total break. This not an easy thing in our culture. We are so inundated with information and stimulation that we are constantly being pulled outside of ourselves. So the thought of spending time with, and within, ourselves can sound like a daunting, almost frightening, task. However, it is in this introspective time that information about what motivates our cravings and desires can be revealed. Sometimes, only by slowing everything down and stepping back from the chaos and distractions around us, can we question and change the patterns and choices of our lives. We need to afford new choices an opportunity to breathe and thrive in our brains and neurological systems, making it easier for us to establish constructive healthier choices over time.

For this reason fasting is also a profound tool for creating a more mindful self-aware life, and resolving compulsive addictive behavior. Many people have dealt with and resolved the compulsive addictive use of drugs and food by fasting. In addition, fasting promotes stability in brain chemistry that even helps with the pain of withdrawal from addictive substances. It’s never easy, but I have helped people even resolve the typically debilitating pain and craving of opiate withdrawal from heroin and dilaudid, and other drugs including cocaine, with significantly less pain and discomfort, utilizing the fasting process.

Even short periods of fasting, from 3-5 days, are extremely useful for changing food habits and addictions to sugar (refined candy, ice cream, cookies, and pastry products), other refined carbohydrates (refined breads, pasta), gluten, meat, and dairy products. And short fasting periods (intermittent fasts) can also jump start a successful weight loss program and promote a rejuvenation of the immune system by removing old white blood cells to trigger the stem cell activation of new white blood cell production.


Re-Feeding and Contraindications

I think that you can probably appreciate that the re-feeding period after fasting is crucial for the success of the fasting experience. In fasting centers, a common recommendation by supervising physicians is that patients take half the time of the fast to ease back into eating. So, if you fast 10 days, you should take another 5 days to break the fast. A conservative approach to re-introducing food and activity is in the best interest of all fasters at any age.

If there are two mistakes that are commonly made after fasting, they are eating too much too soon, and moving too much too soon. Food needs to be gradually introduced after a period of fasting. Fasts are most successfully broken with a succession of diluted and full-strength fruit and vegetable juices, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and salads, and raw and cooked whole plant-based meals. Even if you fast, it will always be just a small part of your life. You will be eating 99 percent of your time; if you decide to fast, it will be a very a very small percentage of your life. What you do before and after your fast is going to be the most significant part of your health and weight loss program.

However, there are potential contraindications to fasting and people who are not good candidates for fasting. Some of these include people that have an extreme fear of fasting, people that are anorexic or bulimic, people with metastatic cancer and body wasting, pregnant diabetic women, nursing mothers, people taking medication and people with specific metabolic genetic defects, like porphyria when there is difficulty processing the porphyrins that affect red blood cell production and energy utilization in the energy factories of cells (mitochondria).

Just keep in mind that during a fast the body can express eliminative activity and healing crises by a variety of acute symptoms involving the skin, kidneys, intestines, liver, lungs and other body organs and systems. While these actions are in the best interest of the body, most of us have been brought up to fear our own vital action. We have been conditioned to fear the acute symptoms of disease, even when these symptoms are typically the most direct expression of the body’s inborn ability to protect and heal itself (e.g. fever and discharge).

Unfortunately, since we have been conditioned to fear our own vitality, fear can surface during a fast if you encounter the symptoms and actions of elimination. This can create stress that is debilitating and counterproductive to the fasting process. This is one of the reasons fasting is usually recommended under the supervision of physicians that have been trained in fasting care.

Typically when we supervise fasts there is a lot of hand holding, counseling, and monitoring of the fasting process. This helps the faster have a better understanding of their symptom picture and what is going on clinically so that much of their fear can be put to rest. If you are comfortable with the symptoms that may arise, or if you have fasted before, you can probably fast for a few days at home without professional supervision.

However, when fasting is done with proper supervision under proper resting and stress-free conditions, fasting is a remarkably valuable tool for promoting health recovery from a wide range of pathological conditions, in addition to promoting and supporting long-term weight loss. Just be mindful that fasting is a conservative approach for health and healing that is always available to you as a viable option before you entertain more debilitating drug and surgical interventions. And if other treatments and therapies have not worked for you, water-only fasting is a remarkable alternative that you may want to consider on your path to health and wellness.


Case Study

A young teacher from Canada came to me some years ago diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, also known as Elephant Man’s disease. In this disease there are multiple small fibrous tumors (fibromas), along the nerve fibers throughout the body and brain. One of her larger tumors was located at the base of the brain, blocking the main blood supply to her brain. So she had a shunt surgically implanted to allow blood leaving her heart to bypass this blockage and feed the brain directly.

Because of these small tumors, she had constant small epileptic like seizures that made her life unbearable. She was on high dosages of dilantin and phenobarbital to control the seizures. These drugs are hard on the liver and produce a toxic state in the body. Although the intensity of the seizures was lessened by the drugs, the phenobarbital kept her in a semi-comatose state with no energy. When she came to me she had been bedridden for some time. She was carried into my center so weak and fragile, and put into bed as if poured off a spoon. It broke my heart to see this young professional woman in her early twenties just a fading shadow of what she could be, what she should be. She had no affect, no smile, just a blank shell in a dormant state of non-being.

After a period of vegan nutrition and vegetable juices, to help her withdraw from phenobarbital, she was put on a fast that lasted 30 days. Again, please understand that the length of this fast was determined on a per day-to-day basis, taking into account the reactions, physiological responses, and vital signs that were monitored daily. However, many people come in with a finite period of time to both fast, and break the fast. Fortunately, her mother and family were committed to the vegan lifestyle and clinical fasting, so we had the time to fast as long as clinically necessary.

During the fast, she became more and more coherent and energetic, even as the days of abstinence increased. Around the 25th day of the fast, her neurological system expressed a flurry of short frequent seizures related, in my opinion, to the previous patterning and exaggerated activity of her nervous system, and potentially tied in to a healing crisis. In the midst of this crisis, consistent with an attempt to eliminate the toxic load on her body after years of toxic medication and the assault on her liver, her belly button drained black bile from the abdominal wall.

After an extensive period of re-feeding, I happily carried her around the property of the retreat until she got the energy to walk on her own. Her seizure activity was now virtually non-existent, and she was drug-free. It was an incredible feeling to see her living and loving life. Her smile and the happiness she radiated was an absolute joy to behold as we wove our way thru the perfumed gardenia bushes and orange blossoms that decorated the property of the fasting center, sharing the sweet taste of honey bell tangelos.

Unfortunately, when she went home, her and her family were browbeaten, pressured by her previous medical doctors, and relentlessly chastised for even doing a fast. She was put back on a variety of medications, subjected to a botched surgical procedure to remove a small tumor in her ear resulting in deafness, and after a series of medical crises, interventions, and mismanagement she was dead in two years. Although time has a way of dissolving the hard edges of past emotion, I can still feel the pain and anger that I first felt at her untimely death. It still brings tears to my eyes.



  • Lee C and Longo VD. Fasting vs dietary restriction in cellular protection and cancer treatment: from model organisms to patients. Oncogene 2011, 30:3305-3316.
  • Cahill Jr GF. Starvation in man. N Engl J Med 1970, 282:668-675.
  • Cahill Jr GF. Fuel Metabolism in Starvation. Annu Rev Nutr 2006, 26:1-22.
  • Cahill Jr GF et al. Metabolic adaptation to prolonged starvation in man. Nord Med 1970, 83:89.
  • Saudek CD and Felig P. The metabolic events of starvation. Am J Med 1976, 60:117-126.
  • Goldhamer A et al. Medically supervised water-only fasting in the treatment of hypertension. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2001, June; 24(5):335-339.
  • Cahill Jr GF. Fuel metabolism in starvation. Annu Rev Nutr 2006, 26:1-22.
  • Ibid
  • Kerndt PR et al. Fasting: the history, physiology and complications. West J Med 1982, 137:379-399
How to Break A Water-Only Fast

How to Break A Water-Only Fast

The re-feeding period after water only fasting is crucial for the success of the fasting experience. In fasting centers, a common recommendation is that the faster take half the time of the fast to ease back into eating. So if you fast 7 days, you should take another 3-4 days to break the fast. If you fast two weeks, you should take another week to break the fast. A conservative approach to re-introducing food and activity is in the best interest of all water only fasters at any age.

Common Mistakes When Breaking a Water Only Fast

If there are two mistakes that are commonly made after fasting, they are eating too much too soon, and moving too much too soon. Food needs to be gradually introduced after a period of water only fasting. Fasts are most successfully broken with a succession of diluted and full strength vegetable juices, melons and other fresh fruit, fresh raw vegetables and salads, cooked vegetables, potatoes, legumes and grains.

Even if you fast, fasting will always be just a small part of your life. You will be eating 99% of your time and fasting only a very small percentage of your life. So what you do before and after the times that you fast is going to be the most significant part of your health and weight loss program.

Avoiding Reactive Weight Gain After Water Only Fasting

Just remember that because of the elimination of all calories, and a natural starvation response that is enhanced after periods of severe calorie restriction, there can be significant reactive weight gain after a fast if healthy, low calorie density, low sodium, plant-based eating and lifestyle habits are not maintained. Briefly, there is a kind of ledger sheet, an internal recognition system that the body uses to match its calorie intake to its calorie output. If you’re restricting your intake of calories but burning a lot of calories in physical movement, the body will slow down resting metabolism to hold on to future calories more forcefully, and you can begin to gain weight on less and less food intake.

Since there are no calories coming in during a water only fast, increasing physical activity during a fast is not only potentially dangerous, but can promote excessive reactive weight gain after the fast. Therefore, maintaining as much rest as possible is recommended during the fast, followed by a diet without added oil, refined sugar, animal products, and salt.

Reintroducing Activity After a Water Only Fast

Physical activity should also be gradually introduced after a fast. If you have been doing nothing but resting during an extensive fasting period, it is in your best interest to ease back gently into an ongoing exercise regimen. Doing too much too soon can cause undue physiological stress to the body, and even potentially provoke some unforeseen damage and disability.

Depending on the length of the fast, I typically recommend short periods of walking, swimming, or biking on a stationary bike, or even rebounding on a rebounder, just about 4-5 minutes at a time a few times a day, for the first few days after fasting.

After this period, activity can be extended several minutes a day over time until you’ve built up to about 30-45 minutes a day.

Being conservative in your eating and exercise choices after water only fasting will enhance any of the benefits you have achieved during the fasting process.

by Dr. Frank Sabatino

Enjoy a Healthy, Medically Supervised Water Only Fast at Balance for Life
The Balance for Life Retreat in Deerfield Beach, Florida (BalanceForLifeFlorida.com) is one of the few programs in the world that does medically supervised water-only fasting and the only one located directly on the ocean. Dr Frank Sabatino, the Health Director of the Balance for Life Program is one of the world’s leading experts on water-only fasting.

Detoxification with Water-only Fasting

Detoxification with Water-only Fasting

On a daily basis we are all exposed to a wide variety of toxic environmental chemicals in the pesticides on our produce, in airborne pollution from the burning of fossil fuels for energy, in the cans and plastic bottles that contain the foods and beverages we eat and drink, and in an array of waste products produced by a variety of industries. In addition, there are a number of toxic by-products of normal metabolism produced by the body itself, like uric acid and blood urea nitrogen that can be measured by a routine blood test.

Many of these environmental toxins are derived from petroleum based oils and fossil fuels and can dissolve in oil or fat (fat soluble). When you are exposed to these chemicals, your body will attempt to detoxify and eliminate them as efficiently and quickly as possible. However, these internal waste products and outside toxins cannot usually be eliminated as quickly as they are created or encountered. So whatever you can’t immediately eliminate will be retained to some extent in the bloodstream or stored in fat cells, away from normal blood circulation, to protect the cells and organs of your body.

How Does Water-only Fasting Support Detoxification?

Since fat is the major source of energy in water-only fasting, when it is metabolized for energy during a fast, toxins stored in fat cells will be released and targeted to organs like skin, lungs, kidney and intestines for elimination. This release of toxic chemicals from your fat cells, and subsequent removal by your body, is the process of detoxification.

Keep in mind that your body is always directing its blood supply to satisfy the needs at hand. For example, perhaps you have had the experience of eating a big meal and trying to exercise too soon after eating. As a result, you may have experienced muscle cramps because your blood oxygen supply was focused on your digestive function and not as available for the oxygen demands of muscular activity.

Does Detoxification Cause any Symptoms During a Water Fast?

Since you do not need blood going to organs of digestion during a water only fast, the body’s blood supply is increased to skin and lungs (your largest organs for detoxification), kidneys etc. to significantly increase elimination and detoxification. The result of this activity can be a panorama of symptoms that happen during a water only fast including mucous discharge, fatigue, headache, joint pain, nausea, skin lesions, rashes etc. But it is important to embrace these actions and realize that they have been set in motion by the wisdom of the body during water-only fasting to promote your healing and recovery.

Furthermore, water-only fasting is a deep physiological resting process that should always be done under resting conditions to conserve and harbor energy for healing. As a result, the energy that would be used for normal growth, and the procuring and digestion of food, is available for maintenance, repair and detoxification. The increase in detoxification is a major and important factor for the promotion of optimal health and is one of the most powerful benefits of water-only fasting.

by Dr. Frank Sabatino

Autophagy in Water-only Fasting: Recycling, Repair, and Transformation

Autophagy in Water-only Fasting: Recycling, Repair, and Transformation

The process of water-only fasting inspires a unique survival challenge to the profound wisdom and intelligence of your body as it balances energy needs with food availability. In this tapestry of homeostasis and survival, your body takes advantage of a unique recycling system, via lysosomes, that exist in every one of the trillions of body cells.

The lysosome is a microscopic organ, an organelle, that has a highly acidic internal environment containing approximately 60 different digestive enzymes, and functions within the cell to complete a form of cellular clean up and digestion. Similar to our larger digestive system, the lysosome also has a protective membrane around it, a barrier that controls the release of its enzymes, confining and controlling their action to protect healthy cells from being completely destroyed.

Before we talk about how these processes are impacted by fasting we must first understand the function of the lysosome, including:

(1) Every day millions of cells are being born while millions of cells are being destroyed and eliminated in a process called apoptosis or programmed cell death. So when a cell has outlived its programmed lifespan, and is slated for death, the membrane of the lysosome breaks down, flooding the cell with enzymes that promote the destruction of the cell and the recycling of its parts.

(2) It is important to realize that our cells are capable of recycling their damaged parts, altered proteins and even microbes they have incorporated during the routine wear and tear of day to day function. This recycling process is referred to as autophagy, and describes how damaged parts of your cells can be sequestered and transported for breakdown in the lysosome, which then provides your body with the building blocks of proteins and fats from these damaged parts, to produce new cells and new growth.

What Happens to Cells During Water Only Fasting?

During water-only fasting there is a decrease in the hormone insulin, and other growth factors, that deprive the cells of nutrients, including glucose and amino acids. This activates a pathway of cellular messengers that enhance the process of autophagy diverting cells away from growth in the direction of maintenance and repair. So that as energy is is diverted away from the procurement of food, digestion and cellular growth during water-only fasting, it is more available for cell maintenance, elimination and repair.

This increase in autophagy is one of the most profound and significant effects of water-only fasting. And when the natural process of autophagy is enhanced during fasting, it allows the body to maintain and protect healthy, functional body cells while digesting, dissolving and utilizing worn out and damaged cells, including non-essential extraneous growths like tumors, cysts and stones, for its energy needs.

Water Only Fasting Allows Your Body to Focus on What It Needs

Keep in mind that your body, in its wisdom, knows what belongs in it and what does not. And during a water-only fast, it will eliminate what it needs least to support what it needs most. So for example, it needs vital organs like heart, brain, kidney, liver etc. but it does not need tumors, cysts, stones and growths.

I have seen women with breasts full of fibrocystic calcium deposits that look like shrapnel on a mammogram get completely clear in 7 days of water-only fasting. I have also seen women with uterine fibroids the size of grapefruits shrink remarkably in several weeks of fasting. So in the fasting state, your body will promote this cellular alchemy and break down tumors, cysts, cancers and stones, taking from these abnormal growths whatever it can, to feed the organs that are vital to life and health. As a result, water only fasting has been shown to improve cancers like lymphoma, and a variety of abnormal growths, tumors and cysts throughout the body.

by Dr. Frank Sabatino

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