Many of history's greatest thinkers and philosophers fasted: Buddha, Confucius, Jesus and Gandhi to name a few. Just call me "Mahatma Mike". Their reasons for fasting were spiritual, mental, physical and/or even political. Irishman Terence MacSwiney, Mayor of Cork, went on a hunger strike after being imprisoned by the British for having the audacity to press for Ireland's independence. His fast lasted 75 days before the British had to carry his dead body out of the prison. Some say this was an "unsuccessful" fast, but he was one of many men to give up his life for Irish freedom. His name is legendary to this day as he energized the entire country to fight against British tyranny. Gandhi also fasted for political reasons. When Muslim and Hindu factions resorted to violence (once again we find the British strategy to use religion as a means to divide and conquer) Gandhi almost perished because he refused to take food until the violence stopped. It did, and Gandhi lived on.
Mostly, the old sages fasted for spiritual reasons. My motivation is mainly physical. That said, there are certainly mental and spiritual aspects to fasting and that is all icing on the cake for me. Physically, the purpose of fasting is to flush out all the toxins in the body due to exposure to modern life - denatured food, pesticides, air and water pollution, and a more toxic environment in general. In addition to flushing out the toxins, a fast is a great chance to cleanse the colon. During the fast, I take Yerba Prima Psyllium Husks twice daily (with lemon in the water). Psyllium has no nutritional value, but allows the colon to cleanse itself more easily.
In fact, you will enjoy an evacuation that can only be described as a coiled up python. It can be an absolute sensational masterpiece. Purging the bowels eliminates the source of poison, thereby permitting blood and energy to regenerate in a natural way. By cleansing the bowels, we repair the body. We enable the colon to be an efficient sewer as opposed to a backed up cesspool. America has one of the highest rates of colon cancer in the entire world - mostly due to poor diet and denatured food. Constipation is a major problem (not for me, but for the country in general).
Fasting is the world's most ancient and natural healing mechanism. All animals (except modern man) know to fast instinctively when sick. Within 24 hours of fasting, enzymes stop entering the stomach and travel instead to the intestines and bloodstream where they gobble up toxic wastes, dead cells, and all kinds of pollutants. All the organs get a much deserved rest during which their tissue is rejuvenated and purified. The body's immune system is put on overdrive and the bloodstream is purified and allowed to cleanse the kidney, liver, and lungs. Fasting turns on a "search and destroy" mission against toxic invaders. Fasting has been used very successfully to cure cancer. In Russia, they employ enemas while fasting and follow the fast with a diet of only dark purple grapes. The grapes attack cancer cells which have been weakened by the fast, and the body's immune system destroys the cancer cells. This treatment has been very successful and certainly one I would consider prior to chemo or surgery.
Those are some of the benefits. The downside? Fasting is *hard*. A 3-day fast is not recommended for the unhealthy or beginner. Instead, it would be wise to work your way up by doing a 1-day juice fast. Then a one day fast (nothing but water with a bit of lemon and psyllium husks). If a one day fast has been successfully conquered, move to a 2-day and then 3-day. Some people fast 1 day a week and execute 7-day fast (or more) twice a year. A 3-day fast twice a year very beneficial and challenging enough for me. It takes alot of discipline and will-power. I rank it up there with the discipline needed to quit smoking as two of the hardest things I've ever done.
The 2nd day of a 3-day fast for me is the most difficult because I usually feel just lousy. My head hurts, I sometimes feel a bit feverish and even nauseous. However, this means the fast is *working* and the bad feeling is because the toxins are being eliminated. So, just keep drinking water and don't give in to the temptation to eat! Even a small dose of food ruins the fast. Just drink plenty of water and flush the system. On the 3rd day, for me, I begin to fantasize about food...dream about food....and my senses (touch, smell, even sight) are heightened to the max as the body's survival instincts are in full gear. It's quite amazing. The first sex after fasting is indescribable (although I haven't experienced it in years, I still remember!). Due to the lack of energy, it is wise not to engage in any very physical tasks. Walking and staying outside are good. Resting in the shade or in your favorite rocker reading a book are good ways to past the time. One should never fast when the temperature is too hot or too cold, which is why I fast in Fall and Spring.
The reward is breaking the fast! One must break a 3-day fast slowly and carefully and ease the body back into normal mode. I usually break a fast with half a grapefruit or a few slices of pineapple. This year my first food was pineapple and I can honestly say one has never completely tasted a pineapple until popping a few fresh slices in the mouth after fasting - it is simply magical and a taste sensation! After the pineapple, I waited half an hour and had a piece of toast with peanut butter. An hour after that I had a bowl of granola with banana and soy milk and a cup of coffee. I was in heaven man! Even better than the resumption of eating is the way you feel after a fast. You have much more energy, feel much healthier, and your face will have a rosy and energetic glow. You will also have a grand feeling of satisfaction for having done one of the hardest things you just may ever do in your life. As he years past, it becomes easier and easier to fast and is just something you'll do automatically because you're certain of the benefits.