Another truism of natural hygiene is that we dig our own graves with our teeth. It is sad but true that almost all eat too much quantity of too little quality. Dietary excesses are the main cause of death in North America. Fasting balances these excesses. If people were to eat a perfect diet and not overeat, fasting would rarely be necessary.

There are two essential rules of fasting. If these rules are ignored or broken, fasting itself can be life threatening. But if the rules are followed, fasting presents far less risk than any other important medical procedure with a far greater likelihood of a positive outcome. And let me stress here, there is no medical procedure without risk. Life itself is fraught with risk, it is a one-way ticket from birth to death, with no certainty as to when the end of the line will be reached. But in my opinion, when handling degenerative illness and infections, natural hygiene and fasting usually offer the best hope of healing with the least possible risk.

The first vital concern is the duration of the fast. Two eliminatory processes go on simultaneously while fasting. One is the dissolving and elimination of the excess, toxic or dysfunctional deposits in the body, and second process, the gradual exhaustion of the body"s stored nutritional reserves. The fasting body first consumes those parts of the body that are unhealthy; eventually these are all gone. Simultaneously the body uses up stored fat and other reserve nutritional elements. A well-fed reasonably healthy body usually has enough stored nutrition to fast for quite a bit longer than it takes to "clean house."

While house cleaning is going on the body uses its reserves to rebuild organs and rejuvenate itself. Rebuilding starts out very slowly but the repairs increase at an ever-accelerating rate. The "overhaul" can last only until the body has no more reserves. Because several weeks of fasting must pass by before the "overhaul" gets going full speed, it is wise to continue fasting as long as possible so as to benefit from as much rejuvenation as possible.

It is best not to end the fast before all toxic or dysfunctional deposits are eliminated, or before the infection is overcome, or before the cause for complaint has been healed. The fast must be ended when most of the body"s essential-to-life stored nutritional reserves are exhausted. If the fast goes beyond this point, starvation begins. Then, fasting-induced organic damage can occur, and death can follow, usually several weeks later. Almost anyone not immediately close to death has enough stored nutrition to water fast for ten days to two weeks. Most reasonably healthy people have sufficient reserves to water fast for a month. Later I will explain how a faster can somewhat resupply their nutritional reserves while continuing to fast, and thus safely extend the fasting period.

The second essential concern has to do with adjusting the intensity of the fast. Some individuals are so toxic that the waste products released during a fast are too strong, too concentrated or too poisonous for the organs of elimination to handle safely, or to be handled within the willingness of the faster to tolerate the discomforts that toxic releases generate. The highly-toxic faster may even experience life-threatening symptoms such as violent asthma attacks. This kind of faster has almost certainly been dangerously ill before the fast began. Others, though not dangerously sick prior to fasting, may be nearly as toxic and though not in danger of death, they may not be willing to tolerate the degree of discomfort fasting can trigger. For this reason I recommend that if at all possible, before undertaking a fast the person eat mostly raw foods for two months and clean up all addictions. This will give the body a chance to detoxify significantly before the water fast is started, and will make water fasting much more comfortable. Seriously, dangerously ill people should only fast with experienced guidance, so the rapidity of their detoxification process may be adjusted to a lower level if necessary.

A fast of only one week can accomplish a significant amount of healing. Slight healing does occur on shorter fasts, but it is much more difficult to see or feel the results. Many people experience rapid relief from acute headache pain or digestive distress such as gas attacks, mild gallbladder pain, stomach aches, etc., after only one day"s abstention from food. In one week of fasting a person can relieve more dangerous conditions such as arthritic pain, rheumatism, kidney pain, and many symptoms associated with allergic reactions,. But even more fasting time is generally needed for the body to completely heal serious diseases. That"s because eliminating life-threatening problems usually involve rebuilding organs that aren"t functioning too well. Major rebuilding begins only after major detoxification has been accomplished, and this takes time.

Yes, even lost organ function can be partially or completely restored by fasting. Aging and age-related degeneration is progressive, diminishing organ functioning. Organs that make digestive enzymes secrete less enzymes. The degenerated immune system loses the ability to mobilize as effectively when the body is attacked. Liver and kidney efficiency declines. The adrenals tire, becoming incapable of dumping massive amounts of stress-handling hormones or of repeating that effort time after time without considerable rest in between. The consequences of these inter-dependent deterioration"s is a cascade of deterioration that contributes to even more rapid deterioration"s. The name for this cascading process is aging. Its inevitable result--death.

Fasting can, to a degree, reverse aging. Because fasting improves organ functioning, it can slow down aging.

Fasters are often surprised that intensified healing can be uncomfortable. They have been programmed by our culture and by allopathic doctors to think that if they are doing the right thing for their bodies they should feel better immediately. I wish it weren"t so, but most people have to pay the piper for their dietary indiscretions and other errors in living. There will be aches and minor pains and uncomfortable sensations. More about that later. A rare faster does feel immediately better, and continues to feel ever better by the day, and even has incredible energy while eating nothing, but the majority of us folks just have to tough it out, keeping in mind that the way out is the way through. It is important to remind yourself at times that even with some discomfort and considering the inconvenience of fasting that you are getting off easy--one month of self-denial pays for those years of indulgence and buys a regenerated body.