| A Little Hunger Can Go a Long Way
by Sussanna Czeranko, ND
Change your ideas regarding the claim “the longer you fast the better the cure.” Man is the sickest animal on earth; no other animal has violated the laws of eating as much as man; no other animal eats as wrongly as man.—Arnold Ehret, 1926, 45
We have always marvelled at the body’s innate wisdom to heal itself, working at optimum levels to carry out the functions needed. For example, when we feel sick, our appetite diminishes and may be completely absent, allowing our bodies a well-needed rest for self-healing.
Our bodies are designed to heal. It doesn’t always require expensive, often intrusive interventions to maintain good health. In fact, the best remedies and medicines are freely accessible to us, such as daily sunshine, clean water, restful sleep, healthy breathing practices, and the calming stillness of Mother Nature. There is also “fasting.”
Abstaining from food for a short period of time allows our bodies to initiate powerful purging of unwanted, damaged cellular debris that clogs our internal environment, often leading to “dis-ease.” Fasting as a therapeutic choice to treat chronic diseases has been with us for centuries. When I was a young medical student, I wrote a research paper on the history of fasting. What I remember so vividly from that early work is that fasting for a month, which may conjure up images of unpleasant hunger, actually helped heal cancers, debilitating arthritis, and many other maladies. Having fasted for 22 days on occasion, I have found that hunger did not dominate my thoughts; rather, I found myself riding on a surge of energy.
Over a century ago, fasting was advocated by the first naturopaths who witnessed with alarm a society obsessed with overeating. This occurred at a time when chronic obesity was rare. Arnold Ehret, a prolific early 20th century researcher, wrote, “What shall we eat to become and remain healthy, if gluttony and wrong eating are the principal causes of sickness?” (Ehret, 1917, 258) He added, “Every follower of naturopathy knows that all maladies are caused, more or less, not by too little nourishment, but by overfeeding.” (Ehret, 1917, 257) Today, over two-thirds of North Americans are overweight and present with high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancers of every sort. Chronic diseases have become so common that almost half of the adult population suffers from one or more. Happily, many of these chronic diseases are preventable with dietary changes.
It all begins in the trillions of cells making up a human body. Each year 90% of our cells are replaced with new ones. How do our bodies accomplish such a turnover without any disruption to normal functions? Within this remarkable process, there is something called “autophagy.”
What is Autophagy?
Autophagy is the body’s self-cleaning process to ensure that any dysfunctional and redundant cells are seamlessly removed, restoring balance in the body. Autophagy is essentially a self-preservation feature that removes any cellular debris, recycling it, promoting regeneration and healthy new cells. This “house cleaning” rids the body of dysfunctional cells, proteins, pathogens, and debris. The process breaks these elements into smaller parts. Some of the breakdown units can be recycled and used to make new cellular components and the rest are eliminated from the body.
Fasting is recognized as one of the most effective ways to initiate autophagy. Eight hours minimum of no food are needed to initiate autophagy. The body is at rest and house cleans. Autophagy and fasting are now seen as an answer to the maintenance of cellular homeostasis, boosting the immune system, and valuable in preventing and treating chronic diseases.
Fasting is a choice to abstain from food and is quite different from starvation that is generally not a choice. Fasting is done for a specific time, giving our bodies a break from eating. Fasting and autophagy help us to effectively improve our health. There are many ways of fasting to gain the benefits. It can be very useful to join a guided fast under professional supervision.
If you are struggling with not feeling you’re 100%, having unwanted food cravings, or worried about your immune system during these bizarre times, autophagy can be a powerful tool to optimize your health. At Manitou Waters Naturopathic Clinic, there are two Detox Cleanse Retreats planned for April and May. Come and learn about autophagy and fasting. Experience a safe cleanse. Learn about intermittent, short, and longer term fasting and how to incorporate these into your everyday life. You will also learn both the “why” and “how” of healthy eating, as you build your repertoire of lifelong healthy habits.
Ehret, A. (1917). My diet of healing. Herald of Health and Naturopath, Benedict Lust Publishing, New York, XII (5), 257-260.
Sussanna Czeranko, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor practicing in Manitou Beach, SK, and has been conducting detox cleanses with patients for the past 30 years. She also includes clinical nutritional counselling in her practice. She is the founder of Manitou Waters Healing Arts, specializing in traditional naturopathic therapies including spa treatments. Also a certified Buteyko Breathing Educator, Sussanna is the author of the 12-volume series, The Hevert Collection, published by NUNM PRESS in Portland, Oregon. Dr. Czeranko has written over 150 articles in professional journals on natural medicine topics. For more details and upcoming events, see www.manitouwaters.com or the display ad on page 11 of the 27.6 March/April issue of the WHOLifE Journal.