An excerpt from Dr. Cousens’ book Spiritual Nutrition
Fasting, particularly Spiritual Fasting, which diminishes the physical stresses of excess food, along with emotional stresses, psychological stresses, spiritual stresses, and environmental stresses, is the optimal set- ting for activating the youthing genes. Fasting is an accelerated form of calorie restriction, and the results we see are in complete alignment with Dr. Spindler’s calorie restriction research findings and the findings of other researchers (see Chapter 22).
The author’s first insight into activating the youthing gene expression began with his observations in 1988. It was the transformation he saw in people during the first Spiritual Fasting Retreats. Now he sees this all the time during the transformational seven-day Spiritual Fasting Retreats that happen throughout the year at the Tree of Life Center US, as well as in people doing forty-day fasts, and even extended fasts up to eighty-five days. What he observed was that people were experiencing radical youthing. People with serious high blood pressure – in some cases as high as 200 over 110 – would often, within one week (although sometimes it takes two to three weeks), when they are taken off blood pressure medications, return to a normal blood pressure. After the fast people seemed to then have a slight raise in their blood pressure of roughly five points above where it was during fasting and stabilize there. As a scientist, this one’s curiosity was piqued, and the result was a variety of theories for why this happened. The author saw that a number of people were able to significantly begin the process of reversing such chronic degenerative diseases as chronic pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, digestive disorders, and Syndrome X (see Chapter 27). This doesn’t happen every time on a seven-day fast, but it seemed to happen in the majority of the cases. There have been dramatic cases, such as the person who had been hospitalized for five years at a well- known mental hospital in Boston, who arrived on “leave” from the hospital eighty pounds overweight, lethargic, and barely able to walk fifty yards. Over a period of three weeks, her depression dramatically improved and she became energetic, youthful, happy, and full of energy. As her symptoms melted away in her seventy-day fast cycle, she became the extraordinarily beautiful, healthy, young lady she always was underneath, and has remained off all psychotropic medications. This and other examples generated some very interesting questions. A way to explain these results came when Dr. Jeffrey Bland personally presented his outstanding book, Genetic Nutritioneering, to the author. Within the first minute of looking at the book, it all became obvious to the author what had been happening: Through the process of fasting, people were turning on their youthing genes and reprogramming to an earlier stage of their gene expression and returning to health. It becomes clear that not only what we eat, but what we don’t eat, speaks to our genes. This breakthrough has shifted the way the author has thought about healing and supports this very ancient process that goes back at least 5,000 years.
Physiology of Fasting
On the physical level of fasting are many techniques and approaches. The goal here is to present a general framework for understanding the process of fasting. The definition of fasting varies. It can mean anything from a dry fast, which is abstinence from all food and water, to a fresh juice fast, to a fast on foods that are one level less dense than we were previously eating. For example, a fast of this latter sort, for a meat eater, would be a vegetarian diet. Another way of fasting is to abstain from that which is toxic to body and mind, and thus eliminating toxins from the system. The physiology of fasting favors healthy cells. Another definition of fasting includes any process that initiates autolysis, during which poorly functioning cells are destroyed, first in the process of fasting, and then the cellular components are broken down and remetabolized. This usually begins after three days of juice or water fasting, which is the classic meaning, as compared to something like a “spirulina fast” or other types of food fasts. These are not really fasts. We stop a fast when the elimination of waste products is complete and the autolysis finishes with unhealthy cells and begins destroying healthy cells. This point is usually indicated by a return of appetite and the disappearance of the white coating on the tongue.
Healthy functioning of the body begins to deteriorate when the normal process of cell regeneration and building becomes slower than the breakdown of unhealthy cells in the body. This is usually connected with the accumulation of toxins in the tissues and cells to an extent that it interferes with the proper nutrition and rebuilding of cells. The Wendt Doctrine of excess protein intake, causing a protein storage disease by blocking the basement membrane, is a clear description of how this works. When the basement membrane is clogged, nutrients, including oxygen, cannot get through to the cells, and waste products cannot diffuse out of the cells back into the capillary bloodstream. The result is that the cells begin to malfunction and degenerate. With excess toxicity and insufficient nutrients, the process of new cell growth slows down. When cells are degenerating faster than new cells are regenerating, we experience aging and disease. It is said that in our industrialized nations many more people die of overnutrition than malnutrition. Fasting helps to clear out the basement membrane so that nutrients can begin to get to the cells and new cell growth can be stimulated. The proteins from the broken down cells are remetabolized and used to build new cells during the fast, so that even without the intake of exogenous protein for cell building, cells regenerate. During a fast, the eliminative systems of the body – the skin, lungs, liver, kidney, and bowels – become more active. Because the body is not spending energy digesting and eliminating fresh toxins in the system, it is able to direct all its energy toward elimination of accumulated toxins and waste products. The increased release is usually evidenced by foul breath, body odor, dark urine, increased mucus secretion, and foul smelling bowel contents. Because of the extra energy freed by resting the digestive system and because of detoxification and the fresh minerals gained from a juice fast, fasting has a normalizing effect on the biochemical and mineral balance in the tissues and is a tonifier of the nervous system.
Fasting is probably the oldest healing method known. It is particularly good for rebalancing problems caused by excessive eating. In 1986, the U.S. Congressional Joint Nutrition Monitoring Committee reported that 28 percent of Americans (32 million) between 25 and 74 years of age weighed too much, including 11.7 million who were severely overweight. Fasting for this reason alone is important. Fasting has been used throughout history for healing. Such great physicians as Hippocrates, Galen, and Paracelsus prescribed it. In the U.S., because of the influence of the drug therapy approach to healing and because of a basic break in our high-technology society with understanding the simple processes of Nature, the use of fasting has faded. This has been less true in Europe. In Sweden and Germany there are hundreds of fasting clinics. At the Buchinger Sanatorium in Bad Pyrmont, Germany, where the author studied, more than 80,000 fasts have been supervised.