The Oldest Cure in the World: Adventures in the Art and Science of Fasting

The Oldest Cure in the World: Adventures in the Art and Science of Fasting

by Steve Hendricks
The Oldest Cure in the World: Adventures in the Art and Science of Fasting

The Oldest Cure in the World: Adventures in the Art and Science of Fasting

by Steve Hendricks


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A journalist delves into the history, science, and practice of fasting, an ancient cure enjoying a dynamic resurgence.

When should we eat, and when shouldn’t we? The answers to these simple questions are not what you might expect. As Steve Hendricks shows in The Oldest Cure in the World, stop eating long enough, and you’ll set in motion cellular repairs that can slow aging and prevent and reverse diseases like diabetes and hypertension. Fasting has improved the lives of people with epilepsy, asthma, and arthritis, and has even protected patients from the worst of chemotherapy’s side effects.

But for such an elegant and effective treatment, fasting has had a surprisingly long and fraught history. From the earliest days of humanity and the Greek fathers of medicine through Christianity’s “fasting saints” and a nineteenth-century doctor whose stupendous forty-day fast on a New York City stage inaugurated the modern era of therapeutic fasting, Hendricks takes readers on a rich and comprehensive tour.

Threaded throughout are Hendricks’s own adventures in fasting, including a stay at a luxurious fasting clinic in Germany and in a more spartan one closer to home in Northern California. This is a playful, insightful, and persuasive exploration of our bodies and when we should—and should not—feed them.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781419748479
Publisher: Abrams Press
Publication date: 09/06/2022
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 102,150
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Steve Hendricks is a freelance reporter and the author of two previous books, one of which, The Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country, made several best-of-the-year lists. He has written for Harper’s, Outside, Slate, and the Washington Post and lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife, a professor of family law, and his dog, a border collie cross.

Table of Contents

Prologue Criminal Quackery 1

Fasting for a cure

Chapter 1 Tanner's Folly 9

The birth of modern fasting

Chapter 2 "I forget I have four limbs" 27

Prehistory and the ancient East

Chapter 3 Christ's Athletes 42

The ancient West

Chapter 4 A Lesser Me 69

I fast to slim

Chapter 5 "The most complicated cage" 85

The Middle Ages and Renaissance

Chapter 6 "This cheap, simple, and vulgar remedy" 107

American doctors find the lost cure

Chapter 7 Arresting My Decline 126

I fast to heal

Chapter 8 "Refuse to be an invalid!" 140

Fasting blooms in America

Chapter 9 "Truth though the heavens fall" 164

America's foremost fasting doctor

Chapter 10 A Gentle Deprivation, 1 175

I fast at a German clinic

Chapter 11 "What's considered too difficult?" 204

The starts and stops of fasting research

Chapter 12 "A crazy idea with no relevance" 226

Fasting against cancer

Chapter 13 A Gentle Deprivation, 2 253

My German fast, continued

Chapter 14 What the Soviets Knew 283

The psychotherapeutic fast

Chapter 15 A Wine Country Abstention, 1 307

I fast at a California clinic

Chapter 16 You Are When You Eat 326

The how of time-restricted eating

Chapter 17 Wine Country Abstention, 2 356

My California fast, continued

Epilogue Moral Malpractice 377

Toward a future less benighted

Acknowledgments 381

Sources on Diet 383

Notes 385

Index 429

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