spiritual fasting, Gandhi
Environmental Health

Dietary Fasting: Detoxification, Spirit Healing and Rejuvenation


We are cut off from the healing calm of Nature, we drive in gridlock inhaling carbon monoxide, and spend our leisure enclosed in a cold dark movie theater or dine at all-you-can-eat fried-food-extravaganzas. Hence, people often undertake a number of calorie-limiting diets and fasting regimes, which also may include connecting with the forests and oceans or communing with animals out in the wilds.

Full Body, Mind, and Spirit Detox through Abstention

Cleansing and detoxifying your body and its processes through fasting has become popular in mainstream culture, yet significant misconceptions abound. Toxins build up resulting from the pollutants in the air we breathe, water we drink, and chemicals found in food, household supplies and beauty products; additionally, toxic overload results from eating an acid-forming, denatured and processed food diet, and living with stress, electromagnetic frequencies and radiation.

Our complex body organism can naturally detoxify itself, but we move too fast, ingest too much poison, and forget to take the time to allow a proper cleansing. We are cut off from the healing calm of nature, we drive in gridlock inhaling carbon monoxide, and spend our leisure enclosed in a cold dark movie theater or dine at all-you-can-eat fried-food-extravaganzas. Hence, people often undertake a number of calorie-limiting diets and fasting regimes, which also may include connecting with the forests and oceans or communing with animals out in the wilds.

Spiritual Fasting

40 days in the desert fasting
Matthew 4:1-2: Then Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry.

A number of different cultures integrate the willing abstention from caloric intake as part of an accepted religious and spiritual practice focused on regeneration of the soul, mind, and body. Consider Jesus wandering the desert for forty days and nights, the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox 40-day Lenten Fast, the Mormon monthly Fast Sunday, and the Protestant John Calvin arguing the entire life of the religious should be “tempered with frugality and sobriety” in such a way as to produce “a sort of perpetual fasting.”

Native Americans undergo vision fasts in the wild, seeking connection with animal spirit helpers. Buddhist monks and nuns following the Vinaya rules do not eat following the midday meal. Fasting is the fourth of the Five Pillars of Islam and involves fasting from sunrise to sunset during the holy month of Ramadan, the most notable time for fasting among Muslims. For Jews, on the most important day of Yom Kippur, every man or woman above the age of bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah respectively fast as a means of repentance.

Mahatma Gandhi: “If a Satyagrahi once undertakes a fast from conviction, he must stick to his resolve whether there is a chance of his action bearing fruit or not. He who fasts in the expectation of fruit generally fails. And even if he does not seemingly fail, loses all the inner joy which a true fast holds. (Harijan: May 21, 1938)

Fast for Health and Rejuvenation

Fasting is an effective and safe method of helping the body detoxify itself. In fact, fasting is recommended for any illness because it allows the body to rest and recover. Acute illnesses, colon disorders, frequent colds and headaches, low energy levels, allergies, and respiratory diseases are most responsive to fasting. Additionally, by fasting regularly and resting one’s organs, the aging process can be reversed, helping you live a longer and healthier life.

Many health practitioners follow the rapidly advancing research field of autophagy, the study of how cells metabolize and eliminate damaged cellular debris, a process which increases under conditions of nutrient starvation. Hence, fasting and cleansing diets that reduce nutrient intake induce detoxification at the cellular level that does not otherwise occur. According to Dr. James Balch in his book Nutritional Healing, during a fast:

  • Natural toxin excretion continues without new toxin replenishment, reducing total body toxicity.
  • Energy used for digestion redirects to immune function, cell growth, and eliminatory processes.
  • The immune system’s workload is reduced and spares the digestive tract inflammation due to allergic reactions to food.
  • Lowered of serum fats thin the blood, increasing tissue oxygenation and moving white blood cells more efficiently.
  • Fat-stored chemicals such as  pesticides and drugs, are released.
  • Physical awareness and sensitivity to diet and surroundings are increased.

A three-day fast helps the body rid itself of toxins and cleanses the blood. A five-day fast begins the process of healing and rebuilding the immune system. A ten-day fast can help fight off illness, including degenerative diseases common to our chemically polluted environment.

Detox Diets: Juice, Herbs, Fruit and Vegetable Smoothies

vision questOne should not fast on water alone, as it releases toxins too quickly, causing headaches and other potential problems. Live-juice diets promote healing by removing toxins while supplying the body with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Such a fast can also lead to long-term changes in eating habits, focusing on raw vegetables. Long-term fasting should be done under the supervision of a doctor or qualified health care professional. Specific diets include:

Live Juice Fast. Live juices should include fresh lemon juice combined with apple, beet, cabbage, carrot, celery, and green-leafy vegetables. All should be mixed with steam-distilled water. Organic produce is preferred. Raw cabbage juice is good for ulcers, cancer and all colon problems and should be consumed immediately to preserve nutrient content. Eating spirulina and bee pollen can supplement protein levels, but cooked food should be expressly avoided, for even a few days after the fast. Variations on this theme would be fasts using raw foods only or juice smoothies (blended fruits and vegetables).

The Lemon-Juice Master Cleanse. The Lemon Detox diet encourages only the intake of lemonade made from: lemons, pure Grade B maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water for a minimum of ten days only. Take a laxative in the morning and evening, and maybe a salt water flush (a quart of water with 2 teaspoons of sea salt) instead of a morning laxative. Many claim significant weight loss from this diet, but without changes in eating and exercise habits, effects would be short-term. Most nutritionists advise against long-term fasts, so undertake this regimen with care.

STORY: Wheat Belly, Restoring Gut Microbiomes, and Planetary Health

spiritual fasting
“Whenever there is distress which one cannot remove, one must fast and pray.” Mahatma Gandhi, Young India: Sept. 25, 1924

Herbal Fast. Herbal supplements and teas may be consumed as part of a fast. Alfalfa, burdock, chamomile, dandelion, milk thistle, red clover, and rose hips rejuvenate the liver and cleanse the bloodstream. Peppermint tea calms the nerves and the gastrointestinal system. Pau d-arco helps rebuild the immune system, aids in bladder function, and rids the colon of unwanted bacteria. Slippery elm is also recommended for colon health. There are detoxifying and purifying herbal formulas for the blood and lymphatic, cardiovascular, liver, lungs and respiratory, kidneys-bladder-adrenal, and colon and digestive tract systems. They may require up to thirty pills a day with activated charcoal to neutralize heavy metals, to be combined with a raw diet for three weeks.

“Once when the Buddha was touring in the region of Kasi together with a large Sangha of monks he addressed them saying: ‘I, monks, do not eat a meal in the evening. Not eating a meal in the evening I, monks, am aware of good health and of being without illness and of buoyancy and strength and living in comfort. Come, do you too, monks, not eat a meal in the evening. Not eating a meal in the evening you too, monks, will be aware of good health and….. and living in comfort.’ ” From KITAGIRI SUTTA of the MAJJHIMA NIKAYA.

Foods to Avoid on a Cleanse

Cleansing properly includes avoidance of meat, dairy products, eggs, wheat, sweeteners, gluten, soy products, coffee and caffeinated beverages, condiments, alcohol, and corn.

28 February 2024

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