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.
Dr. Jackson says that: "In scurvy, the gums are markedly congested and swollen in about 80 per cent of adult human cases, * * * The alveolar bone and peridental membrane undergoes necrosis, with consequent loosening of the teeth, and ulcerations or pyorrhea may occur.
In pyorrhea we see inflammation and ulceration of the gums, pus formation, loosening of the teeth, necrosis of the jaw, and even falling out of the teeth. In numerous cases of pyorrhea that we have cared for, the gum inflammation has subsided, the ulcers have healed, pus formation has ceased and the loosened teeth have become firmly fixed in their sockets, and all of this has occurred while the patient was fasting. The effects of fasting must not be confused with the effects of a white-flour-lard-pie-pasteurized-milk-mashed-potato-diet.
Not only do such conditions not develop during even a prolonged fast, but they are improved and many of their symptoms completely removed by a fast. This remarkable evidence of the value of fasting is explained by the fact that there is a disproportionate loss of the various constituent elements of the body during the fast and a redistribution of some of these, which results in a near approach to normal body chemistry.
It is quite probable that it is much easier for the body to secure and utilize its mineral reserves during a fast than on a onesided diet. Several years ago, Prof. Forster, of Munchen, who made experiments upon fasting animals and animals fed on mineral-free diets and found that animals fed on mineral-free diets died quicker than animals not fed at all, explained that if no food is eaten the body is nourished on itself and, consequently, a supply of mineral is obtained from the broken down tissues, but if the body is nourished on foods freed of their organic salts, there is no demand made upon the tissues for albumen and carbohydrates and so no minerals are derived from the broken down tissue.
The body possesses a reserve from which, in emergency, it may, for a time, draw the required minerals, vitamins and other elements. Animals fed on demineralized foods are compelled to expend their reserves in two directions--(1) in the regular processes of life; and (2) in balancing up the mineral-poor foods they are consuming--while animals deprived of all foods (fasting) are forced to expend their reserves only in carrying on the ordinary (though somewhat reduced) processes of life. The reserves of the fasting animal last much longer and the body's chemical balance is also maintained.
We know, of course, that the body fed on a denatured diet, is capable of extracting minerals from its own tissues, but its mineral reserve is never great enough to meet the constant demands made upon it by a mineral-free diet. The mineral-free diet exhausts these reserves very rapidly. During a fast no such demand is made upon the body's mineral reserves. The body's vitamin and complettin reserves, supposed to be stored in the liver and a few other internal organs, are also exhausted much more quickly on a deficient diet than on a fast.
Experiments with deficient diets must be carried out over sufficiently long periods of time to exhaust the body's possibilities of self-help before the effects of the diet can be seen. Its own reserves must first be exhausted before the deficiency will begin to be manifest. However, when a nitrogen-free diet is given the body, it is forced to draw upon its own stores for material. We know that under these circumstances the most important elements are vigorously retained by the body and an intensive nitrogen hunger is induced. The ability to utilize nitrogen is actually improved.
During fasting the same retention of the most important constituents of the body's stored material takes place even more efficiently than when on an inadequate diet. For, while the fast compels the body to draw upon its reserves, the denatured or unbalanced diets draw excessively upon certain of these stores and compel their more rapid utilization. Indeed, the more of the elements supplied by the diet are given, the greater is the demand made upon the stored material not supplied by the diet. It is largely for this reason that death can be produced quicker by a diet of white flour, or white sugar, or meat soup, etc., than by starvation. During the fast the body can regulate the expenditure of its stored materials in its own best interest and can conserve these in such a manner as to make them hold out longest. On a denatured diet, the demand for stored material is such that this regulation is impossible. The stored reserves are soon exhausted by those elements contained in the diet and become as denatured, or inadequate, or unbalanced, or deficient as the diet itself.
There is more malnutrition due to overfeeding with an embargo on assimilation than to underfeeding. More often there is a loss of power to assimilate special elements than an absence of them in the diet.
Animal experimentation has shown that when animals are fed mineral-free diets their nervous systems suffer most of all. Nervousness, weak and uncertain movements and fits of madness develop as a result of such diets. On the other hand, the nervous system suffers least of all (almost none at all) in animals that are given no food of any kind, except water, until they die of starvation. This marked difference between the effects of fasting, even of starvation, and the effects of deficient diets may be seen in man if we contrast a case of beri-beri (multiple neuritis) or of pellagra with a man who has fasted forty, fifty or sixty days. Nothing could more clearly demonstrate the terrible drain upon the body's mineral reserves caused by the deficient diet than such a contrast.
In beri beri, for example, paresis, especially in the lower extremities, paresthesia (diminished feeling), hyperesthesia (excess feeling), tenderness of the nerve trunks and loss of deep reflexes are the chief nervous symptoms present. In its advanced stage, pellagra also presents symptoms referable to widespread changes in the brain and cord.
The fasting patient, after a most prolonged fast, not only does not present these or other nervous symptoms, but has lost all or nearly all of the nervous symptoms he may have had at the beginning of the fast. Almost all the effects of fasting, with the exception of the loss of weight and sometimes a temporary loss of strength, are exactly opposite to the effects of the deficient or denatured diet.
Pashutin says that he has found in his experiment on dogs, that "when mineral salts are purposely withheld from the animal's food for long periods, other food from which all mineral salts have been removed being given, the animal will use the mineral salts in the body over and over, none being excreted or passed in the urine, as occurs when the animal has a plentiful supply of mineral salts in its food."
This is only partially true. Whether the animal is fasting or on a mineral-free diet, it seeks to retain its minerals as long as possible. There is, however, a day by day loss of more or less of these, so that in the case of the mineral-free diet, minerals must sooner or later be added to the diet or serious trouble results. The mineral exhaustion of the organism occurs much more rapidly, as previously shown, on a denatured diet than on a fast.
Dr. Kellogg offers, among his many objections to fasting, this one: "The body is also continually losing vitamins which are essential for the promotion of the processes of repair and the maintenance of the various vital functions. The daily supply of vitamins is as necessary as the daily supply of air and water. Vitamins cannot be produced by the animal body. They are an exclusive product of plant life. The liver hoards a small store of vitamins sufficient to serve in emergency, but the supply is not sufficient to last indefinitely, and, as shown by the experience of sailors who contract scurvy and those who become the victims of beri-beri through living upon polished rice, the vitamin store of the liver soon becomes exhausted and the body then falls into serious disorder. Fasting deprives the body of vitamins and this involves the risk of serious injury for which no adequate compensation is offered. The total loss of all vitamins must certainly involve greater damage than the loss of one only, yet the absence of but one of the three known vitamins for even a short period produces noticeable injury. Certainly the body can be in no way benefited by the deprivation of food iron, food lime, and other food salts, and of the precious vitamins, the activators of the vital processes."
We have no means of knowing how much of a reserve store of vitamins the body possesses, nor do we know where all of these reserves are stored; still less do we know about how much of these vitamins are lost to the body during a fast. All of this is as unknown to Kellogg and to the writer as to the reader, but we may be sure of one thing:--namely, these stores are sufficient to outlast the most prolonged fast. We know that scurvy and beri-beri never develop on a fast. We know that rickets is positively benefited by fasting. Kellogg overlooks an important difference between fasting and a polished rice diet--namely, that, whereas, in both, the body is deprived of its daily supply of vitamins, fasting makes little if any demand upon its vitamin reserves, while the polished rice diet rapidly consumes these. If he could show that fasting, even the most prolonged fasting, ever produces "deficiency disease," then his objection would have some weight. As it is, the facts of experience must silence the voice of his theory.
Vitamin deficient diets compel the body to consume its vitamin stores; but we do not know that the body is forced to consume these stores in living off its own internal resources. We cannot say positively that these reserve stores do not contain the vitamins necessary to their utilization. We only know that pathological conditions attributed to avitaminosis do not develop as a result of prolonged fasting. Since there are no such injuries, they do not require adequate compensation.
Fasting does not produce deep-seated and hidden injuries that make themselves felt at a later date. There is no harmful destruction of important or vital tissues from fasting.
Weger says: "Even though vitamins are in a small degree consumed by fasting, we consider this factor quite negligible compared with the refinement of body chemistry and the overwhelming influences for general good that takes place. After a fast the tissues are more receptive and readily assimilate as well as utilize vitamins that are necessary elements contained in vital or base-forming foods."--Defense of Rational Fasting.