Dr Francoise Wilhelmi de Toledo of Buchinger Wilhelmi explains why fasting is good for us, what therapeutic fasting is and what happens in our bodies when we fast. The following abridged information is taken from her book, Therapeutic Fasting: The Buchinger Amplius Method.
Nature fasts, animals fast, and humans also have the ability to switch their metabolism to fat-reserve burning. As soon as food intake is discontinued, the body automatically switches from external to internal nutrition. Fasting is not something that we do, but it is something that we allow to happen.
Therapeutic fasting is a modified fast, including vegetable soups, freshly-squeezed fruit and herbal tea with a small about of honey, as well as plenty of water. These supplements ‘boost’ the fasting metabolism by stimulating the burning of fat reserves and facilitating the sparing use of body proteins. At the same time, natural vitamins and minerals are supplied.
Regular fasting, in terms of the voluntary and temporary abstention from food, can be an important tool for mental hygiene. Depressed mood can be prevented by retreating regularly and by consciously deliberating whether one’s vision of life is lived, if the zest for life is still felt, if one brings out the best (in oneself) or if something needs to be adjusted. Frequently, life crises or diseases force these adjustments where deliberate fasting possibly spares us such detours.
When you temporarily and voluntarily abstain from food, you can be trusting because the body’s stored fat supplies are to a fasting person what food is to an eating person. You are not going to be hungry, weak, or bored. As a matter of fact, it will be the opposite.
What happens in our body when we fast?
- During a fast, no food is ingested and the body switches to “internal nutrition” for some time
- The energy sources come from the body’s deposits (fat tissue and some protein structures), without the involvement of the digestive tract.
- The body’s reserves, mobilized from its tissues, are used for cell renewal and growth
- The autopilot frugality sets in: there is no hunger and no satiety
- We can maintain an adequate energy level, as long as stress and acceleration are avoided and the pace of life is deliberate and reduced
- If executed properly, this is a programme that can supply us with the necessary energy and building blocks for cell renewal and can produce wellbeing and contentment
When fasting, fat cells pass the stored calories on to the blood, which ensures continuous nourishment of the entire body, just from within; fasting does not mean lack of nutrition, but switching to stored nutrition.
During the course of the fast, the brain adapts to the use of fat in the form of ketone bodies. The majority of energy generated during the fast originates from fat burning; when fat deposits are broken down, glycerol molecules are released, which can then be transformed into glycose and this is another way to supply the brain with energy.
As the metabolism works more efficiently during a fast, the majority of the digestive processes are no longer required, which signifies considerable conservation of vitamins and minerals (e.g. to prioduce digestive juices, to process nutrients and cross membranes to transport them to the cells).
During the fast, protein synthesis continues to take place via recycled proteins: hair and nails still grow and old skin cells are shed and replaced by new ones. When returning to ingesting food, an explosive reconstruction of protein structures takes place.