Three Quick Steps to Better Health

Quick Health Steps


You cannot mistreat your body for 20, 50, or 70 years and then expect a doctor to give you a wonder drug to cure your ills. You cannot expect that any more than you could drive your car recklessly, miss stop lights and break speed limits for years and expect the judge to let you off with a clean license. There is only one basic cause of disease, and that is unhealthful living. Unhealthful living leads to un-health; this is simple enough to be easily overlooked. Healthful living leads to health; this is nature's law for all living beings. If this seems self evident to you, that's good. You then realize that we can't fool Mother Nature, at least not forever, and therefore you wish to help nature to help you.

We must build health to have health. How, then can we help nature and help ourselves? It's easier than one might think.

Step One: Stop Eating Meats

"I thought you said it was easy!" you might be thinking. "I like steaks-chops-hamburgers, etc." Maybe you do. But perhaps you are just accustomed to the seasonings, condiments and habitual eating of the muscles of dead animals (and that's what meat is). After all, you were probably raised on meats. Most of us are, and just check the baby food shelves at the supermarket and see the jars of processed meat that children are given before they have a chance to say "no."  It's because we think, or believe, that meat is somehow a good thing to eat.  Most naturopaths (nature-cure practitioners) do not think that it is.

Naturopathy holds that meat eating is harmful to your health. There are several reasons for this (Parham, 1979). One is that humans are not meat eaters by nature. A meat eating (carnivorous) animal has sharp ripping-and-tearing teeth, like a cat's. Ever put your finger in a cat's mouth? Twice? A meat eating animal does not have to cook, tenderize, and employ a steak knife to eat its meat. A meat eating animal invariably eats its food raw, and eats the internal organs of its prey, especially the brains, liver and intestines. The first thing a lion does with its kill is open the belly and start eating there. Steaks, roasts and chops are only the muscles of a dead animal, and that's all that most people care for.

A meat eating animal has a short digestive tract, about twice the length of its body. A vegetarian animal has a digestive  tract about four times the length of its body. A longer digestive tract gives the vegetarian animal's system a chance to more fully utilize plant material, with the help of beneficial bacteria that help break it down.

Where do humans fit in here?

First of all, our total intestinal length is about 20-25 feet, roughly four times our body length. (If you have been taught that the intestine is shorter than that, it may be because the measurement was made in a cadaver. The intestines shrink after death.) That's good for plant-fruit-vegetable digestion but not good for meat digestion. Meat will putrefy more easily in such a long digestive tract. Meat decaying in our intestine including the colon, or large intestine, is cause for constipation, diverticulitis, and cancer. (Airola, 1980, p 55)

Secondly, we have to cook, tenderize, and cut up meat because we have a vegetarian's dental structure. Human teeth are mostly blunt grinding teeth for getting the most out of grains, vegetables and fruits. Even our sharpest cutting teeth (incisors) in front are blunt compared to, say, a dog's or cat's. Compare for yourself, carefully.

Thirdly, we do not eat the whole animal. Farley Mowat, naturalist and author of Never Cry Wolf, observed wolves in northern Canada for months and discovered that through much of the year they feed on mice. It seemed so hard to believe that a large wolf could subsist on such small prey that Mowat also started to live on mousemeat. His recipe for Souris a la Creme (Creamed Mouse) makes truly inspiring  reading, as does the rest of his excellent text (Mowat, 1970). 

The diet of mouse meat seemed all right for him at first, but Mowat developed a tremendous  craving for fat, among other things.  He then realized that he was not doing exactly as the wolves did: the wolves ate the whole mouse. Mowat began to do the same, eating the entire mouse, except for the fur and tail, and subsisted happily thereafter. Now a whole mouse means bones, brains, abdominal organs, skin and all that they contain: calcium, phosphorous, potassium, lecithin, fat, iron, trace minerals and the mouse's last meal of partially digested vegetation. That is a complete meat eater's meal.  This is a far cry from a processed, cut-up, cooked, chemically treated, flavored, tenderized, steak-sauced, parsley garnished slab of dead muscle that we call "steak."

It we ate the whole cow, the entire pig, the complete chicken, we would be getting what natural meat eaters get in their diet. Also, we wouldn't be wasting two-thirds of the slaughtered animal that we waste now in butchering it. But the very thought of eating all an animal's innards repulses us, and indicates a hidden revulsion to killing and gore... and eating meat.

Most natural healing advocates recommend greatly reducing or eliminating meat from your diet. American meat continues to contain chemical, hormone and antibiotic residues. When I worked on a dairy farm, I saw healthy, good milking cows that got infection symptoms and were loaded up with penicillin and other antibiotics. These cows were always taken out of the milking line to avoid contamination of the milk. However, if the cow's health continued to fail, under the continued administration of literally millions of units of antibiotics, then the cow was sold at auction. The next stop would be the meat factory. At least five days were supposed to be allowed from the time of the last drug dose to the time of the slaughter, and think this may well have been adhered to.

But is five days, or even five weeks enough time to get the residual antibiotics out of the animal's system? No. Most of the drug would be excreted, but not all.  Most of the antibiotics would be gone in the first few days: half the first day, half of the balance the second day, half of that remaining amount the third day, half of that the fourth day, and so on. After five days, only 3 to 5% of the antibiotic should remain in the cow's system. Only? I personally administered individual doses of one million units of antibiotic very sick cows. Three percent of one million is 30,000. Thirty thousand units or so of residual penicillin? You can't tell me that some of that wouldn't be in the meat.  Think of that next time you want to stop for a hamburger.

If antibiotics aren't enough, there are also chemicals added to our meat supply. Cold cuts, canned meats and most hot dogs contain fillers, fat, water, and nitrites. Sodium nitrite is a more potent preservative than sodium nitrate, which used to be known as saltpeter. Saltpeter was given to soldiers to restrain their amorous proclivities while on liberty; in other words, it is a sterilizing agent. It's difficult not to chuckle when someone says in a deep booming voice: "I'm a meat and potatoes man!" If we think that meat-eating makes us virile, we've fallen for the same falsehood that leads some to think that smoking is glamorous or that drinking is cool. How can embalmed animal tissue, loaded with chemical odds and ends, possibly contribute to the quality of life? 

"Oh come on now - there's not that many chemicals in meats." You might be surprised about that. Fresh meat will last in a refrigerator about six days. This assumes no additives and a temperature of about 40 degrees F. Keeping this in mind, check the freshness" or expiration date on a package of bologna, salami or other refrigerated cold cuts. The shelf life of cold cuts is usually many weeks, and may run into months. Same with bacon. The temperature that cold cuts are kept at is 40 degrees in theory, but as my local inside-source butcher points out, 40 degrees is usually an internal coil temperature in an otherwise open-top meat cooler, and not the actual food storage temperature.  The actual surface temperature is closer to 50 degrees F. For a meat product to last weeks and weeks at such a warmth the meat literally has to be embalmed. Think about that next time you see the TV commercial showing the cute little children singing about their bologna sandwiches.

Some people still are under the misconception that there is some question as to whether nitrates, nitrites and other preservatives are harmful to health or not. Let's clear this question up here. Harvey W. Wiley, M.D., first chief of the U.S. Bureau of Chemistry, directed extensive, detailed research on food additives to see if they were harmful to health.  In his now rare and long out of print book, A History of a Crime Against the Food Law (1929) he describes the need for, and the findings of, this research.

In the foregoing pages attention was called to experiments made on healthy young men to determine the influence of preservatives and coloring matters on health and digestion. The general method of conducting these investigations was discussed.  Altogether nearly five years were devoted to these experimental determinations, beginning in1902 and lasting until 1907. The total number of substances studied was seven, namely, boric acid and borax, salicylic acid and salicylates, benzoic acid and benzoates, sulfur dioxide and sulfites, formaldehyde, sulfate of copper, and saltpeter (sodium nitrate). Reports of these investigations were published, with the exception of sulfate of copper and saltpeter, which were denied publication. (p 57)

Denied publication? Why? Because the findings were that these additives were definitely harmful to health. Said Dr. Wiley:

Vigorous protests from those engaged in adulterating and misbranding foods were made to the Secretary of  Agriculture against any further publicity in this direction. As a result of these protests he (the Secretary of Agriculture) refused publication of Parts VI and VII of Bulletin 84. Part VI contained a study of the effects on health and digestion of sulfate of  copper added to our foods. The conclusions drawn by the Bureau were adverse to its use. The seventh part treated the use of saltpeter, particularly in meats. Owing to the well-known results of the depressing effects of saltpeter on the gonads, and for other reasons, the Bureau refused to approve the use of this coloring agent in cured meats. (p 62-63, emphasis added)

The Bureau of Chemistry was the forerunner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Something must have changed between then and now, because the FDA allows nitrates and nitrites in our food and particularly in meats. What changed: the research, or the organization interpreting the research?  Dr. Wiley's interpretation of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was this:

Following the rule adopted by the Bureau, every doubtful problem was resolved in favor of the American consumer. This appears the only safe ethical ground to occupy. Decisions against the manufacturers who used these bodies (sic) could be reviewed in the courts when the food law became established, whereas if these doubtful problems had been resolved in favor of the manufacturers the consumer would have had no redress.  (p 61)

In other words, Dr. Wiley's policy was that if there was any doubt that a food additive was harmful in any way, it could not be put in food at all. 

Today's FDA takes the view that unless an additive is definitely known to be a serious health hazard, it may be used until it is one.  FDA even has a list known as GRAS: Generally Recognized As Safe. FDA allows, legally, the addition of hundreds of chemicals to our food that may be eventually (if they're not already) found to be poisonous (Natenberg, 1957). Since the whole purpose of adding a preservative to a food is to make it unfit for insects or mold to eat, some people think that all preservatives should be banned.

Perhaps the government will decide that this chemical, or that additive, or this coloring agent is bad for us to eat. But why should we wait for somebody to tell us?  By the time the long, long list of FDA-allowed chemical food additives is erased, how many millions of mouthfuls of them will have been eaten? Consider this: Dr. Wiley's research showed that saccharin was harmful to health in 1907. As of yet (1999) the federal government has still not banned it from foods.

There is, of course, a simple solution to the preservative, additive, color and chemical problem: Don't buy, and don't eat, any food that contains any preservative, additive, color or chemical. That will help tremendously to reduce the ten-plus pounds of chemicals that the average, FDA-reassured American eats each year. In case you don't think that there will be any foods left after you reject the adulterated ones, let me suggest a trip to the health food store, a public market, food co-op, or organic garden supply store. You can even get a lot of good, everyday, additive-free foods at the supermarket. Just read the label, and if you can't pronounce it, don't eat it, and don't buy it. This "voting with your dollars" will do more to get additive-free foods on the shelves than just about anything you can do. 

We have automatically run into the second of the "Three Quick Steps to Health" because, (as Monty Python might say), "It's":

Step Two : Eat Whole, Natural Foods

Meat is not our natural food, nor do we find much natural meat on the market. People continue to ask, though, "if we don't eat meat, then what will we eat?" The answer is, everything else, basically. Vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts, salads, cheese, ice cream if you must, yogurt,  some eggs and milk, berries, juices, breads,  mushrooms, casseroles, quiches, soups, snacks and homemade desserts; and the list is as long as Mother Earth's supply of clean, whole, growing foods.

 "What about getting complete protein, like in meat?" one may ask. Here's the answer, and it's important and easy  to remember: corn, beans and squash together form complete protein. The amino acids provided by these three foods are fully equivalent to those from meat. Corn, beans, and squash are the "three sisters" of the Iroquois Indians. You should have a serving or more of each of these each day, preferably at the same meal. Now this can include any form of corn, beans and squash. For example, corn bread, corn muffins,  corn chips, corn-on-the-cob, corn relish, corn fritters, corn tortilla shells, corn in soups or vegetable stews (even corn flakes if  you're desperate): these are all corn. Beans may be baked, re-fried, in three-bean salad,  green beans, yellow beans, lima beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, chickpeas (garbanzos),  and also peas, pea soup, lentils and all other legumes. Squash may be baked, fried, steamed, in squash pie (yum!), pumpkin pie, pumpkin custard (my Mom's specialty), pumpkin bread, zucchini, zucchini bread or cake. Summer squash can be sliced into soups and casseroles. Eat winter squash like you would mashed potatoes. Corn, beans, and squash together in one dish makes succotash, one of the most nutritious, filling, and low calorie dishes there is. 

For one of the most interesting aspects of the "three sisters" is that they really stick to your ribs. "Vegetables just don't fill me" is a common complaint of prospective vegetarians.  In most cases, the person saying this has not eaten a balanced (corn-beans-squash) meal. Perhaps you've been brought up on mostly meat-and-potato meals, and other foods are not a big part of your menu.  There's no problem there, for your appetite just bored.  Your tastes will expand as you depend less on meat to fill you.  As Dick Gregory says, "Are you going to have some food or just somethin' to eat?" (Dick Gregory's Natural Diet For Folks Who Eat: Cookin' with Mother Nature (1973) explains this very well.

"Vegetarian dishes are tasteless and bland" is another groundless but often heard comment. Ah, that's only if you choose to eat bland and tasteless dishes!  It all depends on how the foods are prepared. (Remember, an inept cook can just as easily ruin a good steak or wreck a lobster.) Good, whole, fresh foods prepared with simple care are appetizing and attractive. The more you eat them, the more your real, dormant appetite will be aroused again for the foods that you need the most and enjoy the best. Condiments, artificial flavors, salt, sugar, and spices are a big part of the flavor that people are used to, and often it is the flavor we seek when we elect to eat meat. Think of all the mustard, ketchup, pickles, salad dressing, salt, seasoning, onion, white bread, grease, and lettuce that surround a "Whopper" or "Big Mac" hamburger.

If you make vegetarian pea soup and add some ground cloves and a little vegetable oil to it, you will taste the "ham" that isn't there. Add some chopped pineapple to baked beans, and again you might look for pork that isn't there. For ideas, recipes, and all-important confidence in cooking there are fortunately many excellent vegetarian cookbooks. Many are in paperback, and some favorites include Laurel's Kitchen (Robertson et al, 1976), Deaf Smith Country Cookbook (Ford, et al, 1973), and The Natural Foods Cookbook (Hunter, 1961).

It is easy to cook without meat. You just don't buy it. Don't let an obsolete meat habit keep you from something you really like to eat that your body likes, too. People like whole, natural foods. I often have people tell me that they feel they could practically live on fruit, or feel they could be happy eating just salads. Those foods they love... but they rarely eat them! Why? If you would d feel better after having a salad bar for lunch, rather than a burger and fries, why not have the salad? Are you a person who rushes into the fast food restaurant feeling good and hungry ...and strolls out feeling a little worse and stuffy? Well, a lot of folks feel the same way, every day. What I can't see is why they persist in eating things that don't make them feel good.  Maybe it's all the advertising; maybe it's time and convenience; maybe it's because they never tried anything different.

Whole, good foods are rarely advertised. There's no need to advertise really valuable products, for they sell themselves.  Lettuce, whole wheat bread, peaches, sprouts: when's the last time you saw ads for these? "Jello," candy, cake mixes, "Cool Whip", coffee, soft drinks: these are very heavily promoted nation-wide, all the time. My mother told my brothers and me from an early age that if we saw it on TV, we probably didn't need it. She would look through a catalog or circular and say, "Look at all the things we can do without." We can apply that to our diet in this way: advertising of a given food product will be inversely proportionate to its nutritional value. Or, the more it's pushed, the less your body needs it.

Maybe it would be good to talk about just what "whole, natural foods" really are, and why they're good. Many of the things we eat are foods processed and packed by man. Whole foods are packed by nature. Nature packs the complete food, with no deletions or additions, unlike manufactured foods which are refined, milled, cooked, preserved, stabilized, powdered, colored or what have you. The manufacturing process is designed to do one thing: increase the salability of the product.  Artificial coloring makes an old, or unripe, or impure food look fresh. That's why oranges are spray painted bright orange: they are usually picked green (although a ripe orange is as green as it is orange anyway) far in advance of their eventual sale date. The fruit is stored for weeks or even months, shipped, stored again, bagged, shipped again, and then displayed as "fresh fruit". Our eye sees the bright orange color, not the age of the orange.  Is it any wonder that 90% of all Americans are vitamin "C" deficient, if we rely on sight alone and not on thinking?

This coloring procedure is a very minor processing compared to what the food industry can do. After all, underneath the fungicides, the spray paint and the bug sprays, it is still a whole orange. Nature grew and packed it in its rind, and nothing inside has been removed by man. In our lunchroom, when I was in grade school, a friend once waxed poetic while peeling his orange. As he removed the rind and separated the segments, he said, "Here's something that's never been seen before" (showing me a segment) "and will never be seen again." At that, he popped it into his mouth and ate it.

Nature produces a food from the first minute bud cells or seed to its final, ready-to-eat form. Commercial food processors come in at the last steps of a food's development and purposely interfere with it. This interference may be removing part (or most) of what makes the food a food of value in the first place. For example, let's take wheat. Whole wheat has been the food of millions of people for thousands of years.  They would eat the wheat grains without cooking or grind the grain into wheat flour for baking. Whole wheat made bread the "staff of life" and real whole wheat bread still is; check the label and see that even store-bought whole wheat bread has 15-20% of your protein requirement for a entire day in just four slices. Today's commercial, spongy white bread would not be called the "staff of life" by anyone with common sense. That's because it's made with bleached white flour, and bleached white flour is so incapable of supporting life that even ants, bugs and mold can't live on it. Makes you wonder why we try to.

White flour is basically nothing but starch. It has great baking qualities, and almost zero nutritional qualities. That's why it's so popular with the big baking companies, and also why it is "enriched" with a few synthetic vitamins so the baking companies can at least say something on the label under "Nutrition Information." White flour started out as whole wheat flour, which is just ground-up wheat grains. But whole wheat flour is a nutritious food, and like any other nutritious food it will support life. That is why it doesn't keep that well: the wheat germ is loaded with vitamins, minerals, protein and oil that will spoil if not consumed within a fairly short time. For miller, baker, wholesaler, and storekeeper to get any kind of shelf life out of their flour, these nutritious but perishable food factors need to be removed.  That is exactly what milling does. The wheat bran and germ are removed in the milling process, and nice white uniform, easily stored white flour remains. As if that isn't enough, the flour is bleached chemically to insure pure white color. 

Here then is an example of fairly intense food processing. Things are taken away (bran, germ, oil) and something is added (bleach) to fashion a commercially useful substance from what started out as simple, nutritious whole food. Similar things are done to corn when it is made into degerminated corn meal or corn flakes. Corn starch is analogous to white flour. Rice is "polished" to make it white and pretty... and pretty valueless. The rice grain's hull has to come off, of course, for that is like the shell of a seed. Rice "polishing" goes further, though, and mills off the  rice's outer layer including the high-protein, high vitamin germ at the end of the grain. White rice is the result, and it stores a long time and doesn't support life any better than white flour. Millions of people daily live on nothing but rice but you can be very sure that it is not polished white rice. They live on whole grain rice. I'm not saying that is enough for optimum health; it takes more to make a good diet than just one food, no matter how good the one is. If these millions of people had nothing but white rice, though, it is safe to say that there would be no over-population problems in quite a few countries. In fact, the first B-vitamin studies were made almost accidentally because a wide-awake Dutch scientist, Dr. Christiaan Eijkmann, observed that chickens, and people, were dying on their white rice diet and that these same subjects recovered and thrived when fed unprocessed whole-grain brown rice.

It makes sense, doesn't it?  The body thrives on good, whole foods and the body doesn't thrive (big surprise!) on partial, tampered-with foods.  We can take a highly processed or refined substance and add to it all the vitamins, minerals and other factors that are known to be important to good nutrition and still not have a food as good as nature makes it. Why?  Because we can put back what we know we took out, but we can't possibly put back what we don't know we took out. The "enriching" process is only as good as our limited ability to analyze what a food contains. On top of that, some think they can decide what a food should contain. How can one state that, say, these three minerals and these four vitamins should be in bread? Who are we to argue with the Nature that actually formed our very body? Enriching a food with a select few vitamins is like telling our Creator that He may use a select few elements, of our choice, to give life. We may think that certain food factors are important to health and life; Nature knows what factors are important, or they wouldn't be there in the first place. For that matter, neither would we. That's why we should eat whole, natural foods.

If you would like to see actual research papers from leading medical and nutritional journals showing evidence that whole foods can cure and prevent disease, you could start by printing out the bibliography for this website (found under "References") and taking it to your local library and asking a librarian for assistance in searching for them. You will really get your eyes opened to the tremendous body of knowledge behind common sense whole food nutrition. Some classic articles that are personal favorites of mine (all listed in the bibliography) are "The Illusion of American Health and Longevity" by Dr. H.H. Hillemann (1960); "Have We Forgotten the Lesson of Scurvy" by Dr. Wm. McCormick (1962); "The Changing Incidence and Mortality of Infectious Disease in Relation to Changed Trends in Nutrition," also by Dr. McCormick (1947); "Iodine: Its Use in the Prevention and Treatment of Polio and Related Diseases" by Dr. J.F. Edward (1954); "New Concepts in Bone Healing" by Dr. Lewis Barnett (1954); and "The Fight Over Vitamin E" by Eric Hutton (1953).

You might want to start with my concise list of more accessible papers found at this website under "Essential References."

Prepare to be quite surprised at how many illnesses can be and have been cured by good nutrition alone. More often than not, the researchers and authors of papers such as these are medical doctors whom you can bet would use drugs unless the whole food therapy worked.  If you want to do your family physician a favor, consider making a copy of the best ones for him or her. Among the major diseases that have successfully been treated by diet and dietary supplements are cancer (Gerson, 1977; Wigmore, 1964, 1982, 1983), multiple sclerosis (Smith, 1988), heart and circulatory diseases (Shute, 1969, 1977), tuberculosis (Sandler, 1950), ulcers (Cheney, 1952), diphtheria, whooping cough, pneumonia, typhoid fever, scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, encephalitis, meningitis, and hepatitis (Cathcart, 1981, 1984; Klenner, 1949, 1971; McCormick, 1952; Smith, 1988).  This list is all the more surprising because it is merely an abbreviated survey.  Believe it or not, the medical evidence for nutritional cures is in print (and has been for many years), quite available for anyone to read.

The simple practical point here, again, is eat whole, natural foods. Every person's health will immediately benefit who does so, and you can prove it yourself in your own life.

Step Three: Clean Out Body Wastes

Along with cutting out meat and eating whole foods, the third quick step to health is to help your body clean itself of the toxins it has accumulated from years of neglect. I certainly don't mean that you never took a bath, never brushed your teeth, or that you went about coughing on everyone. Neglect simply means inattention to your body's real needs. Your body, like an automobile engine, consumes its fuel (food and air) and also produces exhaust wastes (carbon dioxide, urine, sweat). Quite a few organs in the body are involved in filtering, reclaiming and excreting waste materials.  These organs include the kidneys, lungs, liver, colon, spleen, bladder and skin. Your skin is your body's largest organ.

If these organs of excretion are "clogged up" by years of "foodless" foods, meat eating, chemicals, additives, cosmetics, liquor, smoking, over-weight, vitamin deficiencies, and stress, you can imagine that they will not be functioning properly. You know what a "backed-up" septic tank or sewer system can do to a home. A backed-up bowel does the same to a body; so does a toxin-filled liver; so does an overworked kidney; so does a cosmetic-covered, anti-perspirant coated, deodorant soap and moisturizer treated skin. If the body wastes don't get out, they stay in. Naturopaths believe that this is the basic cause of all mankind's various illnesses: the polluted body, or systemic toxemia.  In another section, we will discuss how a polluted lake provides the perfect medium for bacteria to thrive.  So does a polluted body.

The naturopathic method calls for cleansing: cleansing fasts, cleansing foods and beverages, and internal and external cleanliness. Natural healing means that the organism will heal itself, pretty much regardless of ailment, if giver a chance to purge itself of the wastes that are the basis of the ailment. A good cleaning out gives the body that chance.

Here's how it is done.

The Cleansing Fast

A cleansing fast is just not eating for a meal, a day, or a week. The longer the fast, the more the body can accomplish in that time. Considerable body energy goes into digestion, and if you rest the digestive process for awhile, energy can go into internal healing. Fasting a sick body is just as sensible as not putting any more gasoline into a burning automobile. First put the fire out, then repair the car. Then fuel it up.

The same with the human body. The fast puts out the fire; fasting is known to eliminate fever, inflammation, infection and other symptoms from the inside out. "From the inside out" means that fasting breaks down and eliminates the diseased tissues that are the root cause of the symptoms. The repair work is done, naturally and thoroughly, by the body. When the repair is done, then it's time to eat again... and eat whole, natural foods this time.

Dr. Paavo Airola says in Health Secrets From Europe (1972):

The therapeutic value of fasting is based on the following physiological facts: 1) Autolysis is a known metabolic phenomenon of self-digestion or disintegration of the body's own tissues. 2) Therapeutic fasting induces the development of autolysis and directs its physiological effect for constructive healing purposes. To clarify: when disease takes hold of the body it is usually because of the weakened defensive mechanism and impaired normal functions of the vital organs. Due to continuous neglect in feeding the body properly and failure to observe the other rules of health, the glandular activity and metabolic rate slows down and the eliminative organs lose their efficiency.  Many of the toxins and metabolic wastes remain in the body and are deposited in the tissues, causing autointoxication. During a prolonged fast (after the first three days) the body will burn and digest its own tissues by the process of autolysis, or self-digestion. In its wisdom (and here lies the secret of the extraordinary effectiveness of fasting as curative therapy) the body will decompose and burn only those substances and tissues which are diseased, damaged, or of lesser importance to the body economy, such as all morbid accumulations, tumors, abscesses, damaged tissues, fat deposits, etc. (p. 32-33)

Dr. Airola goes on to give excellent, specific advice on how to fast, and discusses many different types of fasting. I highly recommended his work, as he's too good to miss.

Most cleansing fasts need to go for four to seven days. Some persons fast weeks at a time, although generally in nature-cure spas or resorts. Such spas are found all over Europe, but are hard to find in America. For this reason, many people undertake a fast at home, with the aid of careful reading and naturopathic advice.

"Won't I starve to death?" one might want to ask. The answer is, "No, you won't." Most of us eat far more than our bodies require to be healthy. Too much food in a body is like too much wood on a fire: it doesn't get used efficiently. Either it burns quickly and wastefully or it smolders and smokes wastefully. Either way there's a lot of ash left over. This build-up of "ash" is grounds for disease.  Fasting is the great fireplace clean-out.  The right amount of food for most people is far less than they think. Why else would the U.S.A. have so many overweight people?

If we missed more meals, or days, of eating we will not starve. The body can go for weeks without food. Marathon walkers trotted all over Europe for ten days covering 300 miles, on nothing but water in 1954 and 1964. Right now there is enough food in your digestive system so that if you ate no more, your alimentary canal (stomach, intestine, colon) won't be empty for a full day.  Even then, your reserves of glycogen in the liver will last days more, and you have fat reserves as well. A person doesn't really begin to starve for weeks, and doesn't really begin to "fast" for at least four days.

A small amount of beneficial "starvation" or digestion of the body's errant tissue is a planned goal of fasting. Deposits in joints, lumps and growths, even tumors have been reported to be "digested" away in a long fast. This is why terminally ill patients are reliably reported to have recovered after inpatient naturopathic fasting treatment in Europe and other countries.

You might think that fasting would weaken a person, but the exact opposite is true. Fasting strengthens. How strong do you feel right after a big roast beef dinner? Pretty stuffed and wanting to just sit are common feelings after a big feed. On such occasions, one of my brothers used to declare that he felt "bloated". Now: how do you feel on a camping trip, before breakfast? Hungry, certainly, but with the strength, drive and energy to gather wood, make a fire, and cook some pancakes. (Whole wheat flapjacks are very good, by the way.)  This is only a mild degree of fasting, but it is invigorating. 

Most naturopaths would agree that a really long fast should always be conducted under supervision of a naturopathically-oriented doctor, and that going to a nature-cure establishment is ideal. However, many people fast over a weekend for four or five days during the flu, severe colds or other common ailments without any special arrangements (except for not eating!). During a fast, it is important to drink water or vegetable juices regularly. You need to take in quite a lot of fluids because your body excretes fluids in urine and sweat, and balance must be maintained. In fact, you may find that you need extra water or juices during a fast, because your excretory organs are working overtime to clean your system out. Fluids help flush out bodily wastes. They also will  give you some feeling of  "fullness" in your stomach and curb your appetite during the early part of the fast. 

It is common to be hungry for the first few meals you don't have, but as the fast continues, the appetite diminishes. Vegetable juices contain minerals, vitamins and other trace substances that are good for you, and aid in cleansing. Also, the complex carbohydrates in vegetable juices may make work or other activity more comfortable if you are unable to take time off to fast. Some naturopathic authorities feel that there is no need for anything but water for a fast, and that energy and blood sugar levels are not seriously affected by fasting. This probably varies from person to person, and I would do what is comfortable for you.  Anyone with a medical reason why they should not fast simply should not fast. For example, fasting is not for pregnant or nursing women, nor is it appropriate for growing children. Check with your doctor before fasting, especially if you are on medication. Stay in touch with good books, experienced "fasters," and a naturopathically-minded doctor for your first time at it.

During water-only fasts in particular, some persons choose to employ a daily enema to assist the body in its cleansing efforts. The bowels don't move, or don't move much, during a fast. The reason is that there is no food being taken in to stimulate movement, or peristalsis, in the digestive tract and the bowel stays still. An enema helps clean out whatever happens to be collected in the very lowest regions of a non-moving bowel. The enema, although it doesn't sound all that thrilling, helps dissolve and rinse out residual feces in the bowel from before the fast, and also aids in removing toxins accumulated in the bowel during the fast. It also makes you feel better. I know this because I've done it. I am not enema-happy. Once a day is plenty, and only while water-fasting. One can easily do a vegetable-juice fast instead, and dispense with enemas entirely. In my opinion, this is the more practical and more popular choice.

After fasting, it is important to gradually resume eating. No steak dinners, please! The best foods to start into are fruits. Along with fruits, some steamed vegetables and vegetable soups are fine. Vitamin food supplements are more important now than during the fast, for now your body is keenly interested in all the good nutrients it can get. Easy does it on everything; get plenty of rest; chew your food well (do I sound like your mother?) and enjoy. Remember, your body makes you well. All we can do is help supply it with good things to eat and do.

Remember also that the hardest meals to miss are the first two or three, and after that it's easy. And if you're really sick, it will be easy to miss the first meals, too. The first thing a sick animal does is "go off its feed." That is fasting, and we'd all do well to take our example from nature.

One thing that we humans can do that animals cannot do, or perhaps do not need to do, is practice some organized form of stress reduction.  Stress reduction techniques provide deep physiological rest and development of consciousness. Since many people fast for these same reasons, it all fits together nicely and is really worth doing. You might call stress reduction the Fourth Quick Step to Health.  I feel it's very important.

The first Three Quick Steps to Health again are: Stop eating meat; eat whole, natural foods; clean out body wastes. Try these steps you're off and healing already.

Copyright  C  1980, 1981, 2000  by Andrew W. Saul. 

Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )

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Andrew W. Saul


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