Why did our ancestors fast on a regular basis?
If you think about it, every major religion — from Christianity to Buddhism to Hinduism (to name a few) — holds the practice of fasting to be sacred and necessary.
Is it just a way of showing reverence to the almighty or is there more to it than that?
When we look beyond the religious texts, it becomes clear that this customary practice is not only good for our spirit, but is also highly beneficial for our health and longevity.
Fasting is an innate human behavior.
For our distant ancestors, 3 square meals a day were not always guaranteed. In many cases, the waking hours were spent hunting, gathering and trekking through the wilderness. There was often only one large meal eaten when food was available and the circumstances were safe.
7,000 years ago may seem like forever, but it’s a mere blink in time when it comes to the evolution of our human form. Is it possible that we’re more suited to these ancient eating habits than our usual routine of breakfast, lunch and dinner – with snacks and caffeine in between?
I’m starting to believe the answer is YES.
Fasting may seem like a tough thing to do, but believe it or not, we all fast every day (well, every night actually). The word breakfast literally means to “break” or “end” a fast. That period of 8 to 12 hours between dinner and your morning meal is a mini example of this primordial practice.
What is actually occurring in your body when you fast?
When you temporarily cut back on your intake of food, your body runs out of carbohydrates to use for energy and begins to burn the fat stored inside of you instead. This process is called ketosis – a new buzz word in the world of fad diets.
Beyond the obvious weight loss effects of this practice, there is a growing body of evidence that points to the power of ketosis to heal your body on a cellular level.
Recent studies have shown promising evidence that ketosis (and a ketogenic diet) has a healing effect on diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes and heart disease (to name some of the big ones).
It’s also been shown to enhance brain function, including memory, clarity, focus, and the ability to handle stress and anxiety.
How to pick a fast that is right for you.
A disclaimer – I write this with a keen awareness that eating disorders have become a serious concern in the modern world. I propose this eating ritual as a temporary experiment to be approached with mindfulness and a degree of caution.
A fast can be as long or as short as you want to be, but the idea is to abstain from eating specific foods OR any food at all for a set period of time. This is often done for religious reasons, but I am about to suggest that you try it for your own physical, mental and spiritual wellness.
The holy men of old fasted to free themselves of distraction so that they could focus on prayer and connection to a higher power. In a way, that’s what I’m getting at here as well.
In addition to the scientifically proven health benefits of fasting, the act of simply noticing what it feels like to be hungry, then sitting with that sensation and ultimately making peace with it is one of the most powerful spiritual practices I know of. Often times those initial pangs of hunger are phantom sensations, disguising some other wound-based inner pattern that is waiting to be acknowledged and healed.
A sacred challenge for you this month – a two day fast. Now, I’m not asking you to stop eating for two days straight, but to create a consciously altered meal plan that eliminates one meal (or more) on both days.
As always, I will be in the trenches with you. In fact, I’ve been on an intermittent fast for the past two weeks. No breakfast, just my morning tea – then a big lunch after 12pm and a normal dinner at night. This is a great way to enter a state of ketosis and also piggy back on the 10 hours of fasting you have been doing throughout the last evening and early morning hours.
The act of fasting will help you quiet your mind so that your soul can speak more clearly to you. It’ll also awaken and begin to tone your body, giving you more natural energy, flexibility and overall lightness of being.
As usual, it appears our ancestors knew what they were doing – both spiritually and scientifically speaking. It’s time for us to remember who we are and where we came from.
Good luck and I’d love to hear how it goes!
Founder, The Sacred Science
Thank you for all that you share! I listened to your interview on the topic of shamanic dream work. I am very curious on the clarity and details you provided in regard to your dreams. I sometimes remember mine, but not like you do. Is it just an intention when you go to sleep at night and a practice to cultivate or do you have any other tips as far as remembering with pen and paper in hand close by upon your waking?
Staying curious, 🙂
Mary Jo Mills
Yes I have started intermittent fasting and its amazing how the body reorganises itself once the mind stops chattering ! today I am on a 24hr fast.
I follow a guy (John St Julian) he runs a home for children in Tanzania who have been abandoned or are disabled all from gifting using social media only ,who does week long fasts and longer. He talks about his connection to source and finding answers to questions when in a state of fasting and to heal his body.
I read Dr. Jason Fung’s book: “Complete Guide to Fasting” and decided to give fasting a try. A 40 day fast was very common in biblical times. My first fast was a 21 day water only fast. After the first 3 days, I felt great (mental clarity, energy, weight loss – 25 pounds) – 12 to 15 pounds comes right back on when you stop fasting). I have done three additional fasts; two 14 day fasts and another 21 day fast (water only). I am 63 years old and in good health. I am not on any prescription medication. I did the fast for two reasons: get rid of extra pounds and to clean and rest my microbiome (i.e. let the bad bacteria die off)
Interesting talk article about fasting – are you aware it is more beneficial for men to practice intermittent fasting than women relating to the changes in hormones? It increases testosterone – good for men, but not so for women and can decrease a woman’s fertility.
I have been fasting since my late twenties, I am 64. My shortest fast was 3 days and longest 90 days. Truly, it is not for everyone, but for me, it is my retreat to quiet the body and mind. I drink healthy juice that I make, sleep 8 hours or more and listen to my body. I work 40 hours a week, enjoy my friends and meditate.
Thanks for bringing this up! “fasting” goin without, can’t empathize how important this is to the Earth people/ earth bodies, I recently completed a 4-day fast this was about the end of January, for a Spiritual purpose, mainly to center,get back into focus, and yes, “Reset” my body. I am Indigenous from here North America, I do live, and walk a a way of life as my ancestors, of course today is different, the westernized world has changed all cultures, It has taken away or robbed us of our identities. Sad, but we still have our ceremonies, and Fasting is a big part and a must, in order for an individual to achieve anything one is desired, answers to prayers, making wrongs right, and removing or releasing karmic bond. Everyone will experience something different, yes expect to feel the urge to eat or drink, expect to feel uptight, frustrated even irritated:) it’s part of it, long time ago when people fasted in ceremonies such has the “vision quest”, they would go in the state of mind of “Dying” or doin whatever it takes even death to complete your vow or pledge. This is still the way it should be done today, it’s a Sacred Vow, but we live in times where Nothing is Sacred anymore. My fast was 4 days no food, no water. Was very difficult, very taxing to the body, very emotional, but I did it ceremonially, and I broke my fast in the “inipi” sweatlodge. All I can say, is more people need this, it make everything new again, in a sense, most importantly it humbles you, and you become aware and conscious of everything living thing, most of all you don’t take Anything for granted!! To good health! I do encourage anyone to fast. 1 or 2 days is good start!! Converse to your higher power, envision what it is you want or want to change, and appreciate your time with the Holy power all around!!
Gil J – 1) I think doing without water is not a good thing to do. 2) “… in order for an individual to achieve anything one is desired, answers to prayers…”–I don’t understand this at all. So if I want a certain amount of money I could fast and get it? I don’t get the connection.
It is no coincidence that I was just planning to fast this week. Yes so much benefit even for short periods of less than 24 hours. I look forward to a greater connection with my inner being. Thank you for your messages and I hope we shall meet again.
Hi there. I am going to join you on a fast! I have always been hungry all the time since I was little so have spent a lifetime trying hard to regulate what I eat. Since having my thyroid out though, it is becoming a losing battle. I’m hoping I may lose a few pounds but also wondering if this may kick-start my appetite into being normal. It’s worth a try, right?
I am a spiritual counsellor so any benefit to my meditating/connection to spirit is a bonus!
So glad to see this blog on fasting. I completely agree that fasting not only contributes to my body functioning better, but my mind as well. Long fasts work for some, but I have found a more manageable way for me. I find that 3-4 mornings week is just right for me. On the days I fast (nothing until 1:00pm) I think more clearly, have more energy and my mood is better. Even on days when I do not fast, I find I need less food and generally eat better. And instead of feeling the hunger as though it is a “bad” thing (interesting where our minds like to go) I end up thinking of the hunger as a warmth that is created by my body burning energy more efficiently. I highly recommend it.
I eat only meal a day. For an early breakfast, I eat one pound of raw beef and six raw eggs. Then I water fast for the remaining 24 hours. I do this every day. I eat nothing but beef and eggs. I’m 70 years old, 5’6″ and weigh 130 lbs. I have never felt better and stronger in my whole Life. I’ve been zero carb for 4 years and will not change.
Hi, everyday I ask my body what we are eating, when we are eating, how to best prepare a food and I consistently get, every morning, no eating until 1:00 pm.
Some days I make it okay to 1:00 pm and other days a bit more challenging! The fasting definitely puts you in the now and when it is time to eat – oh the appreciation I have for food, for flavours, for colour, is incredible!
Thanks Nick for sharing your fasting experience!
Totally agree with you Nick. Fasting is a modern (read 10,000-year-old) way to replicate the natural rhythm of eating when food was scarce and random.
I fast once a week for 24 hours and do 3 or 5 days fast a few times a year. I also can skip a meal at will.
The key word here is “at will”. Most of what we eat, we do by habit or tradition without being really conscious of it. Fasting highlights these little moments when we reach for some comfort in form of food during meals or between them. Fasting makes us more conscious of what to eat.
With fasting also came the habit to chew longer. Food should be chewed to a liquid before swallowed instead of being gulped. Same with drinks. Chewing liquids, rolling them in the mouth, increases their flavor, making them more enjoyable. (this is what wine tasters do)
These two simple eating habits help regulate weight and energy because less food is needed to be satisfied and the food is more efficiently digested.
Fasting also creates a lot of free time during the day. No prep, no eating, no cleaning. This suddenly available time is quite unsettling at the beginning but can be quickly utilized for meditation, relaxation or as the personal time we claim never have.
Fasting, simply by changing our relationship with food and what we do of our days makes our inner divinity shine brighter.
Great post of yours, Nick. Thank you for sharing
I recently started a 4 day fast totally by accident. I had a small bowl blockage and wound up in the hospital. I started reading a little bit about fasting, I saw several short videos on fasting when the Internet, and decided I would try fasting. After the fourth day I was able to drink clear liquids, including of course IV fluisds, and I was not hungry at all. To my amazement it was very very easy after the second day. I left the hospital one day number six after a very small bowel movement. I went home and just ate very very little, maybe 1/3 of my normal intake of food. I have been a vegetarian since 1973 but I would say I ate a lot of junk food also. During the entire month of January and into February I am eating very little, I have lost about 25 pounds of unwanted we’re on needed fat. I’m feeling much much better than I have in many years, and expect to start fasting much more than I ever did before. I would advise everybody to try fasting for several days, after the second day you’re no longer hungry, just drink plenty of water maybe like a gallon a day. Through my short research, I found that fasting for long periods of time is definitely advisable with medical supervision. I told my Gastro intestinal doctor, that I was fasting and he said just be careful.
This is great.. I go on the Stanley Burroughs lemonade diet for 10 plus days yearly. Its magic,, all I can say. Once you do it, you will know what its like to float, feel flexible and think clearly. I think this article is great advice. thank you.
Its funny that you wrote this article because I have been fasting for over a week and will continue for 42 days ( 6weeks). I got the idea from the book; The Breuss Cancer Cure. I modified the total fast that Breuss wrote in his book because I do not have cancer, I just want to clean up my body. I’m skipping breakfast and lunch, only eating a light dinner. I drink sage and kidney tea and Breuss vegetable juice, one cup only during the day. This gives my body 24 hours to rest and repair. Its my thoughts that if you allow your body to rest and repair, all did-eases , including ageing, will be prevented.
I want to see vibrant health with out the worries. So far so good.
It is safe for a diabetic do a two day fast?
This is a question, if anyone has any wisdon to share that would be great! I have heard lots of good things about fasting. What about people who are maybe too thin (like me)? Is fasting still a good thing even for those of us who are really skinny and very healthy? Just curious and want to learn more. I have a very active lifestyle and have been on a paleo diet, leaning more on the veggie side but still eat lots of healthy fats. Any suggestions regarding fasting?
Fasting is for DETOXIFICATION, and your weight has no bearing on the benefits you will get, although the lighter you are the better. Some people have been known to gain weight on fasts.
My husband will be 81 years old next month and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 13 months ago. his main symptom were and rigidity or stiffness of his right-hand side.he also had some difficulty writing. The original diagnosis was confirmed three months later by a second neurologist. He was on one tablet of pramipexole (Sifrol), 0.25 mg three times a day. Four months ago his neurologist added Biperiden, 2 mg. he takes half a tablet of Biperiden three times a day. Since the original diagnosis, his stiffness has slowly increased. He lost touch with reality. Suspecting it was the medication I took him off the Siferol (with the doctor’s knowledge) and started him on PD natural herbal formula we ordered from GREEN HOUSE HERBAL CLINIC, I spoke to few people who used the treatment here in Canada and they all gave a positive response, his symptoms totally declined over a 6 weeks use of the Green House Parkinson’s disease natural herbal formula. He is now almost 81 and doing very well, the disease is totally reversed!
I am a senior in my 65 and older years blessed with memories of those days I use to say one day I’ll pay for that. I have as my latest blessing been diagnosed with COPD/Emphysema after smoking for over a half a century. In 2008 I went to our local doctor whom I’ve become good friends with seeing him on the average about every five years for a new diagnosis of what I thought ailed me. I had a fecal exam for colon or intestinal cancer after having pain I felt might be related, and it came back not favorable. He wanted me to have a Colonoscopy but I had an Inguinol Hernia at the time and was waiting to get health insurance to get it fixed, which in my case was Medicare 6 years later when I got H1N1/Pneumonia and blew my hernia out of proportion, the size of a football. I was also previously diagnosed with degenerative osteoarthritis in 1992. I chose to have my hernia operated on in 2014 but my choice of healing everything else is natural. I have been fasting seasonally for four years now and today anxiously awaiting my Spring 7 day fast starting on March 24th. I look at this as a treatment along with meditation, exercise, and my Wife cooking non GMO crap. She creates salves and an Elderberry, Lemon, Honey, Ginger tea I enjoy 3 times usually a day. If there’s a day ahead of me where I find my increasing pain is actually without a doubt cancer I will look into a 45 day cleansing. Life is not death as the end result and the fear we choose of it makes life too damn short and wasteful. Smiling, Love, and Compassion along with connecting with the whole of life is also great therapy.
As a senior in the older grouping I chose to start seasonal water fasting for 5 to 7 days starting around 2012. My next one will begin March 24th. I owe my physical, mental and spiritual health to this ancient practice. I go to the Doctors to get diagnosed about every five years with the latest being COPD/Emphysema in 2014. I have made those days when I said I’ll pay for that later a daily reality but everything and every day is a blessing. I take no Pharmaceuticals and what my Wife and I can’t grow or buy organic we’ve made it our practice to not consume it. My daily medicine is Elderberry, Honey, Lemon, Ginger tea three times a day, along with smiles, love, meditations and exercise.
“ketosis – a new buzz word in the world of fad diets.” Not really new Nick. Read the Atkins diet literature from the 70’s. I used to fast every Monday for years and it did keep my weight and mind in check. However one must be careful when is older. My digestion cannot handle a big lunch after 10-12 hours of nothing, I do the intermittent meal plan which works well for me. I enjoy your posts. Thanks.
What a great info Thanks 🙏🙏🙏😊😊😊👍👍👍this reminds me that I have to plan another fasting for my spiritual soul and to ask for forgiveness to my temple. Thanks 🙏🙏
I had a very cool vision after fasting for two days once. The vision, of the origin of the universe, actually came after I ate (stuffed jalapeños, which some purists would consider objectionable, lol). But the experience made me think that perhaps food clogs us up in some way, especially low-vibration food. I can’t explain how the stuffed peppers played into the experience, but the other comments here certainly support the evidence that fasting promotes health and clarity. Clean and clear is better, if you’re interested in those sorts of things!
I started this after reading about it online, perhaps from the presentations you have been associated with. It is not difficult for me to get up and drink water until noon. I do not eat anything between meals. Sometimes I eat a larger meal at noon, and sometimes I just eat a normal sized meal. It does not seem to affect me either way. I am now able to exercise on a treadmill at the gym for 45 minutes at the heart rate that for me is intended to burn fat, and still feel well, even though I have not yet broken my fast. Thanks for planting this seed. It is growing nicely in my life. You and many of your fellow healers are taking a big part in my learning about food and my health. I am so very appreciative.
I really doubt they would have called it fasting, they just had trouble keeping enough food on the table. Finding or growing enough food was a constant issue which took up very much time in their lives, most people even 100 yrs ago didn’t have the luxury of the choice of doing without food. The fact that we have that choice now is what is causing us so much trouble in the world, instead of having to work non-stop to just keep body and soul together, people spend way too much time trying to force the people around them to do what they want them to do.
I totally agree with your fasting guidance having just returned from a 10 day stay and 6 day fasting retreat under clinical guidance in Germany. It has rebooted body, mind and emotions and deepened the intuitive connection on a spiritual level. There was so much time, no hunger pangs and copious energy. Life is joyful, wonderous and awesome!
A way to improve a duration of a special diet is by fasting in general.
it is true when the belly is full brain wants to rest because all blood goes to help digestion thus brain rests
when the belly is empty brain wants to work as belly not require extra attention
this way our extra fat gets consumed to give the body an energy
A very nice summary, Nandlal! Thanks for connecting and sharing 🙂
I’ve been following this regime of fasting until after 12pm and not eating anything after 7pm, and my body seems very happy with it. Watching intake of grains and sugars has taken all the bloating away. I’m moving towards vegetarian only eating fish with little lignans. At82 I feel healthy and vital. Your postings are very helpful. I thank you so much.
My questions are around supplements. What is really needed at my age? I prefer less being better as the good supplements are expensive and you know the rest.
Thanks again, Nick.
Hi Linda, Thanks for connecting! Great to read of your health changes and how its been beneficial to you 🙂 What is needed for you is very specific. What systems of your body need the most attention and support? Is it your vision, is it a particular organ system (liver, kidneys), what is your desired outcome? For better vision try Goji berries or Blueberry / Bilberry. For telomere lengthening and preservation try Astragalus. If you have a specific inquiry, feel free to touch base with our Community Service desk at [email protected].
Do you do a 10 day or 40 day cleanse before a fasting or after ?
Hi Jessie, Thanks for connecting! That depends on the purpose of the fast, the cleanse, the person, and the desired outcomes. One can most certainly stack cleanses and fasts, just as we can intelligently combine herbs and foods for specific reasons. Always be clear on why you are doing a fast or cleanse and obviously proceed with caution. Be specific in your performance of any health tip 🙂
Yes man, you are correct. I am from India(South India to be precise) and the concept of fasting two days a month is very common in the traditional houses. People fast on the days called “Ekadashi” which is the 11th day of the week(considering 14 days in a week as per Indian calendar) and it occurs twice in a month. Apart from these two days people also fast on festive days. This helps in maintaining good health as you say.
And thank you for sharing such a piece of wonderful information with the entire world. Hope your article reaches each and every person on this planet. Best of Luck
Dear Pavan, Thanks for commenting! This is very good info to be aware of and to know. Cultures with rich traditions and thousands of years of documented history need to be paid more attention to. Our ancestors were well-versed in our interconnected role in then cosmos. So great to read of your experiences and thanks for sharing with the community and for your kind words 🙂
At least once a year I like to do the lemon juice diet which became trendy during the 70s !
Drinking as much lemon juice as you like, especially when hunger pangs set in , the drink consists of spring water organic lemon juice and maple syrup with a pinch of cayenne pepper which acts like a catalyst. I do this for 10 days.
Its an incredibly humbling experience, observing the mind and the body, and leaves me clearer, mindful, lighter and more alive.
Ah yes, the ever-present Master Cleanse! Thanks for connecting and happy this offering resonates with you 🙂
I did a water fast last week for 3 days. Some years ago I did a 14 day fast, and I’ve repeated this almost every year with 2 or 3 day fasts. I do it for both physical and spiritual reasons and I’m never disappointed with the results and will continue. I’m 73.
Awesome! Wonderful to read 🙂
I have been doing intermittent fasting and also did a 3 1/2 day water fast a few months ago. The extended fast was a very interesting experience. It was far more spiritual than I expected. I was able to go into a deep meditative state within a couple minutes. It also melted all the stress out of my body. Nothing bothered me. It was like taking a giant chill pill. In fact, I broke my fast only because I was so chilled out I could not get the motivation to do anything, including work. But it was a great experience and I will likely do it a couple times each year.
Hi Rashel, Thanks for connecting! What a wonderful report from your experience. Many folks employ fasting for deeper spiritual cultivation. Monks have been doing this for centuries along with other purifying rituals. Happy this post resonates with you!
hi Nick, I have just started two years ago to introduce the keto diet, especially before or during my own periods.
Results are absolutely brilliant, my brain works better especially when I do not eat at all for 2 or 3 days, and now my body is more flexible, I fill a lot of happiness in my heart and in my brain too. I love it. Suggest it for all humanity.
Hi Daiana, Thanks for connecting! So happy to read of this positive testimonial from your diet and eating habits. Always great to read of success stories from working with food and herbs 🙂
I have actually fasted with water only for 21 days and have done it two times in the last year. It is an amazing experience! Resting as much as possible is key but I still worked (at a restaurant even) and made meals for my family. After the first 4 days or so your body stops hungering and your digestive system rests.
I completely agree. Very well said. 👌🙏✌
I waterfast 68 hours straight every week raising the bar 3 hours every week. Doing “low carb” in between.
I’ll only do it once in December but return next year with 5 days straight waterfasting up to the full moon, adding 24 hours every month, doing a half Mukà diet also, ( half because I don’t have any Mukà, no teachers except the power plants which I will be using carefully ).
I noticed how my dreams are becoming more and more vivid, my system is strong, my focus is getting clearer and I’m cleansing out bad thought/emotional patterns as it have become easier to observe myself from behind my babbling mind.
Much love, Josef
I am an African in America. My ancestor who were stolen and used for other people purpose, over time loose there spirituality, and was given a modify version state.
I was glad to come upon your article,
Today, is the first time I begin to fast for the first time in over 30 yrs,
Thanks to you