Is Fasting Beneficial?

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by Amy Daughdrill

Fasting has been instituted by people of nearly all faiths as a religious practice since before recorded history. By definition, it is the act of abstaining from food, drink or both for a period of time. As a spiritual practice, it is believed to be an act of discipline, placing the desires of the worldly flesh into submission, so that the spirit may advance and flourish. However, many believe that fasting can have great physical benefits as well, and Hollywood has seen a rise in celebrities using fasting diets to drop weight for roles and detoxify their bodies. But is this kind of diet healthy?

Benefits of Fasting
The most common type of fasting in regards to health and diet is juice fasting, or the abstaining from all solid food and fluid aside from fresh fruit and vegetable juices and water. In his book, Staying Healthy With Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, Dr. Elson M. Haas claims that juice fasts can be a very beneficial means to cleanse the body. "Juice fasting is commonly used (rather than water alone) as a mild and effective cleansing plan; this is suggested by myself and other doctors and authors and by many of the European fasting clinics. Fresh juices are easily assimilated and require minimum digestion, while they supply many nutrients and stimulate our body to clear its wastes. Juice fasting is also safer than water fasting, because it supports the body nutritionally while cleansing and probably even produces a better detoxification and quicker recovery."

According to Dr. Haas and other doctors who support fasting diets, detoxification is crucial to our health. Cells and organs are given time to "breathe" and restore themselves. During fasting, the body uses fatty tissues and enzymes to support itself, and as a side effect, breaks down abnormal cells as well as plaque that has built up in the system. Theoretically, these toxins are expelled from the body as waste, and the body is left purified and rejuvenated.