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The Fasting Track

While tidying up today, I ran across a copy of Utne Magazine from 2007. Before tossing it, I was caught by a headline: Detox Diets DEBUNKED.

Here’s the online version, but for you loyal readers, I’ll quote a sentence of interest to RnR:

It sounds boring … but plain old moderation, exercise and clean living will go farther toward improving your health than fasting.

Naturally, I haven’t done exhaustive studies on the worth of fasting. However, as is true with many of the arguments I make, I support this one because it is difficult to argue against. I believe that many people do a detox to allow them (in their minds) to consume those toxins the rest of the year: consume and detox, consume and detox. Now there must be some toxins in our environment that are difficult to eliminate (air pollution, for example), but when it comes to food, I believe we can eliminate much of those with a change in diet from processed foods to real foods.

As for the historical validity of fasting, I believe that its roots are spiritual. The fasting ascetic attempts to lose attachments, achieve some kind of focus, experience humility or reaffirm a devotion to his/her spirituality. That’s all well and good, but I don’t think it has anything to do with detoxifying, because in the past a) today’s toxins weren’t present in ancient diets, and b) can you see the average non-ascetic person with an unpredictable food supply actually fasting for health reasons? I can’t.

Oh, and the Utne article makes another good point:

We were born with our own detoxification systems: our liver and our kidneys.

So why not just eat right and let them do their job, I wonder?

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  1. Catherine
    August 15th, 2010 at 13:27 | #1

    Hi Steve…I agree with you and the Utne article. At Mountain Trek, we assist the body’s natural detoxing process by staying hydrated, sweating (during exercise or in the sauna), and by losing excess fat. Also, we use hot & cold water to “flush” toxins out. Not far from the lodge, there’s a hotel that was built at the site of a natural hot springs (very hot!). The hotel also has a “cold plunge” pool, which is 55 degrees F (very cold!) We go from one to the other, and back, a few times. I know that this method works because I do the same thing at the gym, using the hot tub and a cold shower. After I dry off, my skin smells a little strange, not like the normal smell of sweat. I really do think that by body is detoxing itself through my skin.

    By the way, the doctor mentioned at the start of the article, Filip Vanzhov, used to be associated with Mountain Trek. Last year, I was told that he fasted for 58 days, lost a lot of weight, then over time, gained it all back. So there you go.

    Take care,

  2. SteveR
    August 15th, 2010 at 13:49 | #2

    Yes. Going from a sauna to a cold lake or from a steam bath to a cold shower are time-tested techniques across cultures.

    Of course, some people should not do this sort of thing: very weak patients, pregnant women, cardiac patients and those with high blood pressure. Also, everyone who reads this blog should read the disclaimer page: I am not a health care professional, just a blogger.

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