In earlier books fasting practitioners and supporters believed that digestion energy saved by the body during fasting is where the healing power of fasting came from. They were not far off. Now we know that autophagy is upregulated in the third and fourth day of a zero-calorie intake fasting event. We owe a great deal to doctors, researchers, and supporting writers and journalists who wrote about fasting in the 19th and 20th centuries. You have to Google some of the old medical terms as you drink in the information that the pages of the those old texts provide, but I think it’s worth it. Best of all they are mostly free reads on the internet. From these old texts I learned that autophagy is NOT a mindless cannibal as it moves through our bodies looking for sustenance to sustain us. It has an intrinsic intelligence that starts with the waste materials that inhibit a healthy condition and leaves important tissues to the very last. It even gives us a physical and unmistakable signal when we pass the threshold from fasting into starvation called the “return of natural hunger” written about by fasting practitioners in the 19th century and then confirmed in the 20th century by the most prolific fasting practitioner of that century, Dr. Herbert Shelton.
The myth that large amounts of muscle mass is lost during fasting was verified by Dr, Jason Fung in his book The Complete Guide To Fasting in 2016. I say “verified” because studies in inanition were performed by Charles Chossat in France in the 1860’s that muscle loss was minimal until the final stages of starvation. Again this was confirmed by Prof. Sergius Morgulis of Ohio State University funded by Harvard University in the 1880’s. Both of the studies used animals, but the thing to keep in mind is that a mammal is a mammal and autophagy is only slowed or accelerated by metabolism. Otherwise all things mammalian are equal in autophagy.
The importance of these findings confirms the brilliant discretion of autophagy. If autophagy was mindless why does it, in the final stages of starvation, begin to consume muscle mass, but does not touch the heart muscle or the brain, which is mostly fat, until just before death by starvation.
Much of what we learn today about fasting has been known for centuries and curtesy begs that we give credit where it is due. I am perplexed though about how autophagy supposedly has been handed down from generation to generation perfectly in all mammalian lifeforms for millions of years when the Theory of Evolution depends on “genetic mutations” and “changes in inheritable characteristics”.
The No-Breakfast Plan The Fasting Cure by Dr. Edward Dewey
The Fasting Cure by Upton Sinclair
Fasting and Sunbathing by Dr. Herbert Shelton