Water fasting: Benefits, Weight Loss, and How to do it


Water fasting refers to absolute abstinence from food consumption with the exception of pure water,which is consumed as much or as often as desired or necessary, in an environment of complete rest.

Voluntary abstinence from solid foods and some beverages for therapeutic, spiritual,

or political reasons have been part of human society for centuries.

The earliest account of therapeutic fasting can be traced back to

the 5th century BCE when the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates advised abstinence from food or drink

for those illnesses which he considered were the result of over-eating.

Water fasting, as a form of medical therapy, was introduced in America during the 19th century

by Dr. Herbert Shelton. By the middle of the 20th century,

it was being used in medically supervised inpatient settings for weight reduction in morbidly obese patients.

However, water fasting as a dietary measure soon fell out of favor due to lack of efficacy and concerns for its safety.

Since the 1980s, the reemergence of research into fasting has

elucidated potential physiologic benefits from water fasting that may be advantageous in the management of metabolic diseases,

chronic inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, pain syndromes, and even psychosomatic conditions.

Additionally, intermittent water fasting in conjunction with healthy

diet and lifestyle changes was found to be an effective method of weight loss.

As with all forms of therapy, water fasting is not without risks.

Adverse effects such as low blood pressure, dehydration, gastrointestinal upset, musculoskeletal pain,

as well as possible worsening of some chronic diseases can be related to water fasting, especially if done incorrectly.

What Is Water Fasting?

Therapeutic water fasting is the complete abstinence from all substances except pure water in

an environment of complete rest, according to Dr. Alan Goldhamer, the founder of TrueNorth Health Center.

He further states that water fasting is one of the most potent tools available for assisting the body in healing itself.

This video is an extended interview with Goldhaber on water fasting by health and lifestyle YouTuber Rich Roll.

What Are The Reasons For Water Fasting?

The primary reasons for water fasting are to improve one’s health through weight loss,

detoxification of toxic chemicals stored in fat cells,

strengthening of the immune system, reduction of inflammation, and autophagy.

Based on the Expert Panel Update of the 2002 Consensus Guidelines on

Fasting Therapy by Dr. Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo,

water fasting has empirically documented beneficial effects in the following conditions.

  • Endocrine, Nutritional, and Metabolic Diseases:

Type II diabetes mellitus, obesity, metabolic syndrome, hyperlipidemia.

  • Diseases of the Cardiovascular System: 

Hypertension, coronary artery disease, heart failure.

  • Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System and Connective Tissue:

Rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthropathy,

degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system, chronic lower and upper back pain, fibromyalgia.

  • Diseases of the Nervous System: 

Migraine, chronic tension-type headache.

  • Psychological Disorders:

Depressive mood disorder, psych vegetative exhaustion.

  • Diseases of the Digestive System: 

Functional gastrointestinal diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic constipation, fatty liver.

  • Diseases of the Respiratory System:

Chronic bronchitis, chronic-obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, chronic sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, allergic diathesis.

  • Diseases of the Urogenital System:

Recurrent cystitis, dysmenorrhea and premenstrual syndrome, climacteric syndrome, fertility disorders.

  • Diseases of the Skin: 

Neurodermatitis, psoriasis, urticaria, acne.

Water fasting has been used as a form of protest. An example of this is the Irish hunger strike of 1981,

during which members of the Irish Republican Army consumed nothing

but water and salt in order to oppose British government policies.

How To Perform Water Fasting?

creating an environment conducive to the fast, incorporating key behavioral changes during

the fast, deciding when to end the fast, and restoring the body in a post-fast period.

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