Who should read this book: Anyone interested in trying out fasting. I personally re-read parts of this every time I am fasting to get inspired to push through difficult periods of water-only fasting (I do a 5 day fast every 3 months and a 24 hour fast every month, check out my post here).
The fast is to me the key to eternal youth, the secret of perfect and permanent health.
The book had no religious connotations, but rather documented Upton’s prolonged fasting strategy and his experience overcoming sever stomach issues. He recounts, in great detail, how he felt during his fast, the various fasts he took, and documents how he felt post-fast and what he ate. He also shares dozens of letters from people who also documented their own fasting experiences that were later influenced by Upton.
It inspired a wave of thousands of people with various illnesses (ranging from gastrointestinal, cardiac, metabolic all the way to the common cold) to try prolonged fasts (3-50 days), and the majority of people reporting very positive effects. It also sparked medical research on the topic — over a century ago.
Then after decades of relative silence, just in the past few years, bloggers, youtubers and podcasters have emerged like Tim Ferriss (author), Dr. Rhonda Patricks and my friend Joseph Lofgren who have helped spark a resurgence in the benefits of fasting. What Sinclair didn’t know, though, that modern science has helped to unveil was that it’s not just a good strategy for treating certain ailments, but can also be used as a preventative measure.
Today we know that:
- Fasting “reboots” your immune system, forcing your body to produce new white blood cells. In turn, this can help fight against disease, improve your respiratory function and even boost resistance against the common cold.
- Studies on caloric restriction have also directly linked fasting to increasing telomere-length and preventing against senescent cells, essentially helping protect again DNA damage and increasing life expectancy up to 20%.
- Fasting leads to mood enhancement. Not to mention it prevents against headaches, chronic fatigue and stimulates growth hormone which could help prevent Alzheimer’s.
Favorite quotes from the book:
The fast has become a commonplace to me now; but I will assume that it is as new and as startling to the reader as it was to myself at first, and will describe my sensations at length. I was very hungry for the first day — the unwholesome, ravening sort of hunger that all dyspeptics know. I had a little hunger the second morning, and thereafter, to my very great astonishment, no hunger whatever — no more interest in food than if I had never known the taste of it. Previous to the fast I had had a headache every day for two or three weeks. It lasted through the first day and then disappeared — never to return.
Upton does chin ups!
Formerly I had been dependent upon all kinds of laxative preparations ; now I forgot about them. I no longer had headaches. I went bareheaded in the rain, I sat in cold draughts of air, and was apparently immune to colds. And, above all, I had that marvellous, abounding energy, so that whenever I had a spare minute or two I would begin to stand on my head, or to “ chin “ myself, or do some other “ stunt,” from sheer exuberance of animal spirits.
The fasting routine: fast + enema + bath
Superfluous nutriment is taken into the system and ferments, and the body is filled with a greater quantity of poisonous matter than the organs of elimination can handle. The result is the clogging of these organs and of the blood-vessels — such is the meaning of headaches and rheumatism, arteriosclerosis, paralysis, apoplexy, Bright’s disease, cirrhosis, etc. And by impairing the blood and lowering the vitality, this same condition prepares the system for infection — for “ colds,” or pneumonia, or tuberculosis, or any of the fevers. As soon as
the fast begins, and the first hunger has been withstood, the secretions cease, and the whole assimilative system, which takes so much of the energies of the body, goes out of business. The body then begins a sort of house- cleaning, which must be helped by an enema and a bath daily, and, above all, by copious water-drinking.
Not troubled by the sight of food
The fast is not an ordeal, it is a rest; and I have known people to lose interest in food as completely as if they had never tasted any in their lives. I know one lady who, to the consternation of her friends and relatives, began a fast three days before Christmas and continued it until three days after New Year’s; and on both the holidays she cooked a turkey and served it for her children. On another occasion, during a week’s fast, she “ put up “ several gallons of preserves; the only inconvenience being that she had to call in a neighbor to taste them and see if they were done. I myself took a twelve-day fast while living alone with my little boy, and three times every day I went into the pantry and set out a meal for him. I was not troubled at all by the sight of the food.