History of Fasting

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MUSCULAR tissue is continually undergoing change in structure. The cells that form it are constantly dying, are cast off, and fresh material for their rebuilding is being supplied. The waste resulting, if retained, is systemically harmful; and, in order to permit of its elimination and replacement with wholesome cell pabulum, muscular rest must occur. Not only does this apply to muscles in super-active use, but to those of all of the bodily fabric. Rapid exercise of any part of the human machine can be continued but for a short time, for, because of vigorous muscular action, voluntary or involuntary, cells are rapidly broken down, their poisonous waste is thrown into the blood, and is carried to the remotest portions of the organism. Every organ of the body is thus deleteriously affected, and resulting symptoms of self-toxication appear that may end disastrously. The only means of recuperation lies in muscular rest.

The heart, although making contractions at the rate of seventy-two beats a minute, is able to continue its work throughout the life of the individual, since each contraction of this muscle is followed by a slight interval of rest, during which its cells recuperate. Stimulate the heart beat beyond its normal rate, and a point is soon reached at which poisonous products from broken-down cells are not carried away with sufficient rapidity, while regeneration is defectively performed, since the intervals of rest are inadequate. Similar conditions are met when the muscles used in respiration, those of the chest, the diaphragm, and the abdomen, are overworked.

The muscles that move involuntarily, those that are not subject to the human will, never know absolute rest, for they continue their labors whether the body be asleep or awake. On the other hand, those muscles, the action of which depends upon brain direction, cannot work continuously, lest fatigue with fatal exhaustion follow. Seemingly, automatic labor, labor not directed by volition, does not wear. It is only conscious work that requires for recuperation and muscle rebuilding non-use or physical rest. This is permitted in that loss of consciousness regularly recurrent in animal life, which is called sleep.

Physical growth and muscular development in man are never completely rounded out, and this may be attributed to a double cause. Theoretically, every muscle of the body should be exercised impartially and should be nourished with the exact amount of cell pabulum that is needful for the replacement of its broken-down substance. These conditions are virtually never fulfilled. That they may be is a possibility to be contemplated with surety, since they are logical conclusions based on natural law. To bring them to consummation, reciprocal active relation must exist between intake and outgo, rebuilding and waste, labor and rest, consciousness and sleep.

The processes of nutrition are involuntary in character so long as material suitable for their accomplishment is furnished for their use, but they may be directed in part by the individual to the extent of the preparation and of the selection in kind and quantity of food required. When the function of digestion becomes impaired, disease results. And functional disease is analogous to muscular fatigue; hence, since nature includes in her law of recuperation both systemic purification and organic rest, it is reasonable to assume what the text promulgates: organic rest through abeyance of the processes of digestion and assimilation, with consequent systemic cleansing and renewal of normal functional activity.

The manner in which the digestive organs and those allied to them may be given needed rest is to the mass mind perhaps not at once apparent. The mere thought of abstention from food carries with it repudiation of the long-taught doctrine that frequent feeding both in health and in illness is needful for the maintenance of vitality and strength. Yet just this omission of food is meant when rest for overworked organs is suggested. The phenomena of fasting for the cure of disease include facts that prove that the human body does not depend for strength or for vitality solely upon food ingested; the latter is in the main utilized for the repair of the fabric of the body; by means of food the material framework is kept in condition to permit of the liberation of energy in its variety of manifestation. The body, then, is but a vehicle for the expression of the life principle. But the life principle itself is an entity, operating through its vehicle only so long as its lines of transmission are unobstructed by the causes of disease.

Diminution in weight, often excessive, always occurs in illness, even though food is ingested. (Exceptions with obese or dropsical symptoms noted.) In itself this shows that nature is proceeding with her process of purification, despite the obstacles in her path, and that she is protecting the body by inhibiting the function of assimilation. This she will continue to do until the avenues for the passage of vital force are partially or wholly cleared, or until organic defect beyond repair is uncovered. In the former event, health will eventually be restored; in the latter, the death of the body is presaged.

Also, when disease is present, under the more prevalent methods, feeding is continuous in accordance with the doctrine that nourishment is at all times necessary to "keep up strength." If the stomach rebel, other organs are assailed with the idea of conveying through them the nutriment considered necessary, and this in spite of very evident protests on the part of bodily function. The question naturally suggests itself: why, if food is constantly supplied, does the body lose in weight! This query was covered in a previous chapter, but its answer is found in the fact that in disease intake of food is not properly digested, is consequently incapable of complete and healthful assimilation, and, far from acting as constructive material for tissue regeneration, proves an added systemic burden and a source of toxication. Another cause of loss of weight, slighter in degree, is discovered in that brain and nerve tissue, as instruments for the expression of thought, motion, and sensation, are protected from deterioration in substance by that provision of nature which permits them to utilize nourishment stored in the interstices of tissue. This they consume in illness and in health, and, when in disease normal balance is disturbed, when body tissue is not rebuilt as is the case in health, nerve substance is still supported from the same source of supply.


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