The Fasting Cure is 1911 non-fiction book on fasting by Upton Sinclair. It is a reprinting of two articles written by Sinclair which were originally published in the Cosmopolitan magazine. It also includes comments and notes to the articles, as well as extracts of articles Sinclair published in the Physical Culture magazine. The book is dedicated to Bernarr Macfadden.
Sinclair was keenly interested in health and nutrition. He experimented with various diets, and with fasting. He writes extensively about fasting in The Fasting Cure, which became bestseller. Sinclair believed that periodic fasting was important for health, saying, \"I had taken several fasts of ten or twelve days' duration, with the result of a complete making over of my health\". Sinclair favored a raw food diet of predominantly vegetables and nuts. For long periods of time, he was a complete vegetarian, but he also experimented with eating meat. His attitude to these matters is fully explained in the book's final chapter, \"The Use of Meat\".
In his book Terrors of the Table: The Curious History of Nutrition (2005), British biophysicist Walter Gratzer describes Sinclair as \"the most credulous of faddists.\" Gratzer also writes, \"In what passes for a caveat he remarks [in his book The Book of Life (1921)]: 'I have known two or three cases of people dying while they were fasting, but I feel quite certain that the fast did not cause their death.' The irony in all this farrago is that we now have good evidence for an increased life-span in rodents kept in laboratory conditions on a very low-calorie diet.\" Likewise, in the book Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything (2017), authors Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen write, \"Although modern doctors would strongly disagree with Sinclair's unsolicited medical advice, there have been some recent promising studies on the impact of fasting on mice with cancer. Human studies, however, are still lacking.\"
Sinclair appears in T. C. Boyle's novel The Road to Wellville (1993), which is built around a historical fictionalization of John Harvey Kellogg, the inventor of Corn Flakes and the founder of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. In the book, Sinclair and his first wife, Meta, appear as patients at the Sanitarium. Later, Kellogg is outraged when he discovers that another of his patients has been fasting after reading a typescript of Sinclair's The Fasting Cure.
In the Cosmopolitan Magazine for May, 1910, and in the ContemporaryReview (London) for April, 1910, I published an article dealingwith my experiences in fasting. I have written a great many magazinearticles, but never one which attracted so much attention as this. Thefirst day the magazine was on the news-stands, I received a telegramfrom a man in Washington who had begun to fast and wanted some advice;and thereafter I received ten or twenty letters a day from peoplewho had questions to ask or experiences to narrate. At the date ofwriting eight months have passed, and the flood has not yet stopped.The editors of the Cosmopolitan also tell me that they have neverreceived so many letters about an article in their experience. Stillmore significant was the number of reports which began to appear inthe news columns of papers all over the country, telling of people whowere fasting. From various sources I have received about fifty suchclippings, and few but reported benefit to the faster.
I have reproduced in the book several photographs of myself whichappeared in the magazine articles. Ordinarily one does not print hispicture in his own books; but when it comes to fasting there are many\"doubting Thomases,\" and we are told that \"seeing is believing.\"The two photographs of myself which appear as a frontispiece affordevidence of a really extraordinary physical recuperation; and thereader has my word for it that there was nothing in my way of life toaccount for it, except three fasts, of a total of thirty days.
My object in publishing this book is two-fold: first, to have somethingto which I can refer people, so that I will not have to answer halfa dozen \"fasting letters\" every day for the rest of my life; andsecond, in the hope of attracting sufficient attention to the subjectto interest some scientific men in making a real investigation of it.To-day we know certain facts about what is called \"autointoxication\";we know them because Metchnikoff, Pawlow and others have made athorough-going inquiry into the subject. I believe that the subject offasting is one of just as great importance. I have stated facts in thisbook about myself; and I have quoted many letters which are genuine andbeyond dispute. The cures which they record are altogether without[Pg 8]precedent, I think. The reader will find in the course of the book(page 63) a tabulation of the results of 277 cases of fasting. In thisnumber of desperate cases, there were only about half a dozen definiteand unexplained failures reported. Surely it cannot be that medical menand scientists will continue for much longer to close their eyes tofacts of such vital significance as this.
I do not pretend to be the discoverer of the fasting cure. The subjectwas discussed by Dr. E. H. Dewey in books which were published thirtyor forty years ago. For the reader who cares to investigate further,I mention the following books, which I have read with interest andprofit. I recommend them, although, needless to say, I do not agreewith everything that is in them: \"Fasting for the Cure of Disease,\"by Dr. L. B. Hazzard; \"Perfect Health,\" by C. C. Haskell; \"Fasting,Hydrotherapy and Exercise,\" by Bernarr Macfadden; \"Fasting, Vitalityand Nutrition,\" by Hereward Carrington. Also I will add that Mr. C. C.Haskell, of Norwich, Conn., conducts a correspondence-school dealingwith the subject of fasting, and that fasting patients are takencharge of at Bernarr Macfadden's Healthatorium, 42d Street and GrandBoulevard, Chicago, Ill., and by Dr. Linda B. Hazzard, of Seattle, Washington.
I look about me in the world, and nearly everybody I know is sick. Icould name one after another a hundred men and women, who are doingvital work for progress and carrying a cruel handicap of physicalsuffering. For instance, I am working for social justice, and Ihave comrades whose help is needed every hour, and they are ill!In one single week's newspapers last spring I read that one wasdying of kidney trouble, that another was in hospital from nervousbreakdown, and that a third was ill with ptomaine poisoning. And in mycorrespondence I am told that another of my dearest friends has only ayear to live; that another heroic man is a nervous wreck, craving fordeath; and that a third[Pg 11] is tortured by bilious headaches. And thereis not one of these people whom I could not cure if I had him alone fora couple of weeks; no one of them who would not in the end be walkingdown the street \"as if it were such fun!\"
These tests were made at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, where I wentfor a long stay. I tried their system of water cure, which I found awonderful stimulant to the eliminative organs; but I discovered that,like all other stimulants, it leaves you in the end just where youwere. My health was improved at the sanitarium, but a week after I leftI was down with the grippe again.
Strange as it may seem, the fast is a cure for both emaciation andobesity. After a complete fast the body will come to its ideal weight.People who are very stout will not regain their weight; while peoplewho are under weight may gain a pound or more a day for a month. Thereare two dangers to be feared in fasting. The first is that of fear. Ido not say this as a jest. No one should begin to fast until he hasread up on the subject and convinced himself that it is the thing todo; if possible he should have with him someone who has already had theexperience. He should not have about him terrified aunts and cousinswho will tell him that he looks like a corpse, that his pulse is belowforty, and that his heart may stop beating in the night. I took afast of three days out in California; on the third day I walked aboutfifteen miles, off and on, and, except that I was restless, I neverfelt better. And then in the evening I came home and read about theMessina earthquake, and how the relief ships arrived, and the wretchedsurvivors crowded down to the water's edge and tore each other likewild beasts in their rage of hunger. The paper set forth, in horrifiedlanguage, that some of them[Pg 28] had been seventy-two hours without food.I, as I read, had also been seventy-two hours without food; and thedifference was simply that they thought they were starving. And if atsome crisis during a long fast, when you feel nervous and weak anddoubting, some people with stronger wills than your own are able toarouse in you the terrors of the earthquake survivors, they can causetheir most direful anticipations to be realized.
I will conclude this chapter by narrating the experiences of some otherpersons with the fasting[Pg 29] cure. With the exception of one, the secondcase, they are all people whom I know personally, and who have told metheir stories with their own lips.
I have taken some trouble to investigate the subject of the fast, andto meet people who have been through the experience. I could give adozen more cases such as the above if space permitted. I know oneman who reduced his weight from 365 pounds to 235. I know one littlegirl whose spine was bent in the shape of a letter U lying sideways,and who, by means of fasting and a diet of fruits exclusively, hascome four inches nearer to straightness in a few months. She has thecomplexion of perfect health, and is rapidly recovering the use of armsand legs, which were paralyzed years ago.
The reader may think that my enthusiasm over the fasting cure is due tomy imaginative temperament; I can only say that I have never yet met aperson who has given the fast a fair trial who does not describe hisexperience in the same way. I have never heard of any harm resultingfrom it, save only in cases of tuberculosis, in which I have been toldby one physician that people have lost weight and not regained it. 59ce067264