This is an excerpt from the full essay, available here.
"Historically, fasting has been done 1) out of necessity when food is scarce, and 2) for spiritual purposes of divine communion. In recent history, the focus has shifted to the physical benefits of fasting, partly because modern humans experience so many diseases of the body. Whatever the reason you choose to fast, know that it’s a multidimensional undertaking that is going to have wide ranging effects on your physicality, your mind, emotions, and spirit (if you allow it).
Fasting is defined as abstaining from eating food. You already fast whether you know it or not - every time you sleep you are fasting. That’s why the first meal after you wake up is called break-fast.
So the question is not "do you fast?" but rather "how long do you fast?"
Fasting helps the digestive system (and other bodily systems) rest, recover, and cleanse after eating. The digestive system, which is about 30 feet long in most adult humans, is one of the biggest users of nerve energy in the body. Constantly filling your system with excess food taxes the body’s energy reserves and eventuates in disease.
A fasted digestive system not only tells your body to burn fat for energy, it increases the removal of dead cells and growth of new ones in a recycling process called Autophagy, reducing inflammation and providing renewed energy. A fasted system sends signals to the brain to be more alert, an evolutionary trait we developed as hunter gathers.
Many types of fasting are practiced for their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health benefits. This article will explore the main pillars of: intermittent fasting, 24-48 hour fasts, extended fasts, water fasting, dry fasting, solid food vacations*, and Ayurvedic fasting*. (These last two are not technically pure fasts).
Fasting helps develop awareness, sharpens discipline, supports the body’s innate intelligence, and allows one to take personal ownership in the prevention and reversal of disease.
full essay, available here.
Listen to my interview with Brother Air to hear his experiences doing a 29 day dry fast and a 371 day solid food vacation on episode 3 of the Radical Health podcast.
Current projects: Radical Health Zine, the New American Songbook, Pathways with Joseph Campbell.