We are now several days into the season of Lent or the 40 days, a time when we traditionally fast, abstain and desire to grow in holiness. Did you know that in addition to the spiritual benefits of self-denial, fasting can also be physically therapeutic?
In Dr. Joel Fuhrman's book, Fasting and Eating for Health, he states, "Therapeutic fasting accelerates the healing process and allows the body to recover from serious disease in a dramatically short period of time." He then lists a host of illnesses and chronic conditions that he has seen fasting improve.
He gives guidelines for a total fast, with water only, but encourages physician supervision from someone familiar with and supportive of fasting. "Fasting, as a therapeutic modality, is safe, effective, and a true health care bargain." Let's face it, you can't complain that fasting is too expensive!
Just recently I learned that when Gary Young, the founder of Young Living essential oils, was still paralyzed in a wheelchair after his logging accident, and deep in despair, he had decided to fast himself to death. He only had use of one fourth of his body and did not want to live any longer. As he progressed with the fast, his health started to return and this led him to a renewed zeal for life and belief that God was still with him and had a purpose for his life. This was the beginning of his journey into natural healing.
If you eat a fair amount of processed food, why not decide that you will eliminate anything from a box or a can for a period of time. You might make a decision to skip one meal and drink more water, refrain from eating dessert except for once a week or give up the coffee, soda (diet or regular) or energy drinks and substitute water or green smoothies instead. There are many ways to fast and make positive changes in your diet at the same time.
I'll admit that I am a wimp when it comes to fasting. I am not very good at dealing with feelings of deprivation. Even though I have shifted my diet to include mostly whole foods, organic meats and produce, lots of healthy fats and almost no processed, prepared foods, I still find it difficult to tell myself I will be denied something that I enjoy.
(So what am I giving up? Click "Read More")
If you decide to attempt a more involved fast, keep in mind that the first few days on any fast or diet change is going to be a bit difficult. Your body chemistry is adjusting, toxins are being released and food cravings aren't going without a fight. You may experience detox symptoms which can involve headache or muscle aches, slight fever or bowel issues. Hang in there and your sacrifice can be offered up for others, as it blesses you as well.
Self denial has some incredibly useful side effects, besides possibly a healthier body. Maybe you've already discovered this. What has been especially helpful to you in the past? Will you be doing something particular this lenten season?