This section is from the book "The Hygienic System: Fasting And Sun Bathing", by Herbert M. Shelton. Also available from Amazon: The Hygienic System Vol III Fasting and Sun Bathing.
Prof. Morgulis further says: "Active growth and regeneration are not incompatible with inanition, and the wear and tear, at least in some organs, is so completely repaired as to evade for a long time the effect of a nutritional stringency. Inanition does not preclude the ability for extreme and sustained exertion."
Under ordinary circumstances, the generalized food reserves of man and animal are capable of sustaining functional and structural integrity for a considerable time without more food being consumed. Under the most favorable circumstances of quiet, rest and mental poise, these reserves are capable of holding out much longer. There is a sense in which the utilization of these reserves is analogous to cutting off the tail of a hungry dog and feeding it to him, but the analogy will not go on all fours. These reserves are stored up for just such uses and there are times and conditions when they must be used. Indeed there are conditions of "disease" in which it is impossible to make use of food from any other source--conditions in which the body is unable to take the raw materials and make use of them.
Not only are these food reserves capable of nourishing the vital tissues of the body for long periods, but the body does not permit any of its vital tissues to be damaged or consumed so long as these stores hold out. It is only after these reserves have been exhausted that nature will permit any of the vital or functioning tissues of the body to be damaged. There is no danger of damage to the vital organs from a prolonged fast. Fear of fasting is unfounded and based on ignorance or misinformation.
Abstaining from all food except water until these food reserves are consumed, is fasting. Abstaining from food after these food reserves have been consumed, is starving.
Discussing the death of president Garfield, who lived eighty days after he was shot, and who wasted until "all that seemed to be left of the great president when he drew his last breath on the night of the 80th day at Elberson was a thin skin covering a skeleton," Dr. Dewey asks: "What became of the tissues in this case? Did they evaporate?"
When food is withdrawn from man or animal, the demand for substance with which to maintain the structures and functions of the vital tissues is thrown upon the reserves of the fasting organism.
The fasting organism makes the most of the material at hand--it spins out the inevitable loss as far as possible; indeed, those substances which are absolutely essential for the preservation of the vital spark, or for the continuance of the motion of such necessary organs as the heart and central nervous system, are only used up when the supply from other organs has almost entirely failed. Fats and any store of glycogen are first used up, along with part of the proteins, until, when from a quarter to a half of the total body weight has been lost, the machine stops for want of motive power.
If the fasting continues, readjustments are made to secure minimum demands upon the nutritive stores; as the fast progresses, the body tends to conserve its supplies by lessening activity both physical and physiological, so that the rate of loss gradually diminishes.
In cold-blooded animals, in which fasting is a regular physiological occurrence in the life-cycle, the reserves are usually plentiful and the demand made upon them is small, so that they may fast for long intervals without being forced to renew their stores. In warm-blooded animals, whose reserves are frequently lower and whose greater activities make greater demands upon these, the reserves are more rapidly depleted. However, it is only after all these reserves are exhausted that the organized tissues are requisitioned as nutritive substances.
The reserves last much longer if the faster rests, than if he is active during the fast. Better results are achieved in the fast if rest is observed. Work, long walks, strenuous exercise, etc., waste the body's reserves without producing any compensating benefits.
Physical effort, external cold, worry and strong emotions increase the rate with which the body's reserves are utilized. Fever, perhaps does the same, at least in most if not not all acute states.
Nelsons Encyclopedia says: "The observations made during the fast of Succi and others show that the body wastes less rapidly when the patient is kept warm and at rest. The fatty tissues are the first to be used up, and later the proteids of the skeletal and intestinal muscles. The heart muscle does not dimmish appreciably and probably it derives its substance from the less essential muscles. In long continued fasts the tissues waste more rapidly during the first few days. Later the body uses its reserves of nourishment more economically."
Previous fasting seems to train the body to a more economical use of its reserves. The enormous economy of an educated disposal of the body's forces is thus seen. A second or third fast is also almost always more comfortable than the first fast, although in many first fasts there is no discomfort at all.
"Human flesh," says Dr. Page (The Natural Cure, page 73), "by absorption, constitutes a most appropriate diet in certain conditions of disease. The absorption and excretion of diseased tissue is, under some circumstances, the only work that nature can with safety undertake, and in these cases, no building up can be accomplished until a solid foundation is reached and the debris removed; and not then, unless while this good work is going on, the nutritive organs are given an opportunity to virtually renew themselves."
Human flesh, by absorption, becomes the bill-of-fare of the sick and in all serious acute illnesses the only possible bill-of-fare. Dr. Dewey was Acting Assistant Surgeon, U.S.A., in charge of a ward in the Chattanooga Field Hospital in 1864, where, he says, "postmortems were the rule" and that they were numerous. In discussing these post-mortems he says, "there was one fact revealed in every post-mortem of tremendous significance, that failed to make any impression on my mind other than to remember it. The fact that no matter how emaciated the body, even if the skeleton condition had been reached, the brain, the heart, the lungs, except themselves diseased, never received any loss."
These soldiers according to the theories of the time, were fed "plenty of good nourishing food," to "keep up their strength." They "wasted" as do all such patients, because the vital tissues of their bodies were feeding off the less vital or non-vital tissues. The vital tissues so fed themselves because there was no other possible way for them to feed.
These studies reveal to us that there are alimentary reserve stores in the body gathered to guard against times of need. These nutritive reserves are ready for use at short notice and with little energy expenditure by the body. They are capable of supplying all essential needs for the time being, and can be replenished at leisure, after the work of reconstruction has been completed.
If the adipose tissue and other reserves are abundantly present, one may fast thirty to ninety or more days without consuming one cell of the essential tissues of the body.
"With no digestive drudgery on hand," says Oswald, "Nature employs the long-desired leisure for general house-cleaning purposes. The accumulations of superfluous tissues are overhauled and analyzed; the available component parts are turned over to the department of nutrition, the refuse to be thoroughly and permanently removed."
Organisms capitalize the results of the joint work of their several organs both in the form of increased capacities and valuable stored substances and are able to use their stored capital as though to some extent independent of immediate external supply. This stored capital, or biological raw material, is woven into the inner fabric of organisms by the reciprocal labors of their various parts and is ready for instant utilization when need arises.
The aggregate tissues of the organism may be regarded as a reservoir of nutriment capable of being called in any direction or to any point, as needed. The ability of the body to nourish its vital tissues off its food reserves and its less vital tissues, is of extreme importance to the sick man who is unable to digest and absorb food. Except for this ability, the acutely ill would perish of starvation.
Pashutin records the case of a girl 19 years old who starved to death after ruining her digestive tract by drinking some sulphuric acid. He says "her dead body was like a skeleton, but mammary glands remained unaffected." He also records that in cases of hibernating animals, the growth of granulation tissue in wounds continues during the deepest slumber, even when every other function seems almost to have ceased. The heart may beat as slow as one beat in five to eight minutes, and the blood circulation be so slow that cuts made in the flesh bleed very slightly, yet the cuts heal.
Contrary to popular (and even professional) opinion, the vital tissues of the fasting organism do not begin to break down from starvation immediately upon the withdrawal of food. The fasting body does lose weight, but "live weight" losses are not reliable indications of tissue changes within the organism. The largest draft upon the body stores during a fast is made upon the fat and in both man and animals the rapid loss of weight during the first one to four days of a fast, particularly noticeable in the fat person, is due to the tendency of fat to fall off rapidly.
Thus, it is seen that the vital tissues are nourished first off the food reserves and, when these are exhausted, off the less vital tissues. No damage will or can occur in any of the vital tissues of the body so long as its reserves are adequate to meet the nutritive needs of these tissues. This varies from a few days in very emaciated people to a few months in very fat individuals. There need be no fear of fasting, even the most prolonged fasting, under experienced and intelligent guidance. The human body may have stored within it such enormous resources of energy that it will be able to fast many days.
Because they are ignorant of the reserves of the animal body, which are available for sustenance, when, for any reason it is denied food, physicians, nurses, patients, their relatives and friends, are afraid of fasting and insist that the sick must eat to "keep up their strength." Never was there a greater fallacy entertained.
One important feature about fasting has been entirely overlooked by all the so-called scientific investigators of fasting. I refer to the manner in which it causes the breaking down, absorption and elimination or use of abnormal growths, effusions, exudates, deposits, etc. The scientists have conducted all their experiment's on healthy animals or healthy men and are, for this reason, in no position to know its effects in the sick body.
They learned that useless fat and the less essential tissues are consumed first, and the most essential tissues of the body are hardly touched, even where death from starvation results. But never having watched the process they cannot know anything of the rapidity with which dropsical fluid, for example, is absorbed from the cavities or tissues and utilized as food. They cannot know how tumor-like growths are often rapidly absorbed and how, even large tumors are reduced in size. Resolution in pneumonia is hastened, the process taking place so rapidly, often that it would be difficult to believe unless one should see it. "Diseased" tissues are broken down, exudates, effusions and deposits are absorbed and either used or eliminated. The body utilizes everything it can dispense with during a fast in order to preserve the integrity of the essential tissues. The useless and least essential things are sacrificed first.