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What’s Old Is New Again

by Mary Beth Janssen
Fasting -- Organic Spa Magazine

A Health Retreat

In the early to mid 1980s, I would trek to the renowned Pawling Health Manor (no longer in operation although it had a long, successful run) just outside Rhinebeck, New York. It was founded by bestselling author and health guru Joy Gross with her then-husband Dr. Robert Gross.

Set in a sprawling, historic Georgian mansion atop a hill overlooking the majestic Hudson River, Pawling administered to the needs of the rich and famous (Veronica Lake, Cicely Tyson, George Steinbrenner, Jerry Stiller, Miles Davis, Jessica Tandy, Alvin Ailey), those with serious health issues, those looking to slim down, and those on a spiritual quest (yours truly, after losing my son). There were those with addictions--whether food, alcohol, drugs (pharmaceutical and recreational), and more. I found the individuals I met there fascinating, and learned many lessons from them.

The Pawling Health Retreat's basic tenet was based on gaining health. The treatment was centered around medically supervised water fasting. Everyone would lose weight, and quickly, but for many the therapeutic benefits went well beyond this. In a one-week visit, I underwent a three day-water fast and was checked twice daily. We did light exercise such as walking, and gentle yoga stretches. There were daily lectures designed to inform and inspire (and keep your mind off food!).

At the end of each week-long session, Joy presented a plant-based food demo featuring luscious salads, vegetables and fruits, which were thoroughly enjoyed by departing guests. After 72 hours of nothing but water and ice chips, this feast was perhaps one of the most abundant and delicious meals to ever pass through these lips. In my estimation, everyone I attended with was ecstatic with their fasting results. After this exposure to fasting, I began to study how people eat and live in a way that ages them faster and sends them to the hospital and ultimately to their graves sooner than necessary.

Joy would send one of her books, The 30-Day Way to a Born-Again Body home with everyone. In the chapter Fasting to Look Younger and Lose Weight she said: “Incorporating short fasts into your life can make an enormous difference in how you look and how you feel. It can help you break your addictions to destructive, acid inducing foods. It’s the most efficient way to make the switchover from the old way to a rejuvenating new one.” Through their work and Joy's many books, they were able to share gems of health wisdom that enabled thousands of people to take charge of their weight and in turn their health and well-being.

In essence, I discovered through fasting--coupled with organic, whole foods and predominantly plant-based eating--how our body has remarkable, regenerative power. Dr. Herbert Shelton, one of the greatest advocates for water fasting (he supervised tens of thousands of fasters), in his now classic book. Fasting Can Save Your Life said, "The popular mistaken concept is that we cannot gain strength and build resistance unless we eat. Food and nutrition are not synonymous. You are not nourished by food you eat, but in proportion to the amount you digest and assimilate." Fasting is like a trip switch to reset your digestive and eliminative processes to function at their optimal best.


*Another classic book on fasting is Fasting and Eating for Health: A Medical Doctor's Program for Conquering Disease by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

*One of the most well known present day fasting/spiritual retreat spas, with an excellent following and reputation is the We Care Spa, (wecarespa.com). You can also search at retreatsonline.com/site/health-wellness/fasting-retreats.html for additional options.

*As always, you can find educational intermittent fasting tutorials online. Please research and stay with the guidance of doctors like Dr. Joseph Mercola (mercola.com), Dr. Josh Axe (draxe.com), and yes, even the grandfather of integrative medicine Dr. Andrew Weil (drweil.com), who has weighed in favorably about intermittent fasting. Facebook has some excellent, supportive communities for intermittent fasting as well as the ketogenic diet/lifestyle. (By extension, due to the potential of fasting to place you in a ketonic* state (where fat is used for fuel, instead of glucose from carbs being used for fuel), you may want to further study the ketogenic/keto diet, as well as LCHF diet (low carb, high fat).

Although a great option for healthy individuals looking to control their weight in addition to the potential metabolic benefits such as improving cellular aging and life extension, please note that intermittent fasting is not something you should carelessly undertake. Do your due diligence, and it's recommended to consult with your physician before beginning any form of fasting protocol, especially if you have any chronic or acute health condition, take pharmaceutical drugs or are elderly or younger than 18. Individuals who are hypoglycemic, diabetic, or pregnant (and/or breastfeeding) should avoid any type of calorie restriction until your blood sugar or insulin levels are regulated.

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