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Dr. Goldberg writes about how easy it is to focus too much on dietary issues and fasting, while minimizing the other essentials of health. Often, the more diet books a patient has read, the more confused and sick he/she is. - "Life and health are best addressed in a comprehensive manner."

Common Errors Of Natural Hygienists - 3

  by Paul A. Goldberg, M.P.H., D.C. D.A.C.B.N.

Error #3:   Placing Excessive Emphasis On Diet / Fasting and Ignoring The Other Essentials of Health.

"Life is not simply a matter of filling up and emptying out".
This is one of my favorite quotes by Dr. Shelton. It is notable that he made this comment in light of the fact that Dr. Shelton spoke and wrote extensively on dietary issues, fasting and ran a Hygienic/Fasting Institute for many years.

Life and health are best addressed in a comprehensive manner. The beauty of the Philosophy and Practice of Natural Hygiene is that it encompasses all aspects of living and does not approach health and disease in a piecemeal fashion.

Unfortunately, many devotees of Natural Hygiene tend to focus on dietary issues and fasting, while minimizing the importance of the other essentials of health. Hygienists are not alone in this regard. In thirty years of practice I have witnessed much the same in other health seekers as well.

The earnest health seeker tries diet after diet in their search for good health. My experience has been that the more diet books a patient has read (and there is always a new one around the corner waiting to hit the bookstands) the more confused, frustrated and often times the more sick the person is.

Few people will solve their health problems by diet alone, particularly because diet is only one aspect of nutrition. Nutrition properly understood involves not only what we ingest (the diet) but also:

  1. Digestion
  2. Absorption
  3. Assimilation
  4. Cellular Excretion
  5. Elimination
All these processes must be working efficiently for good nutrition to take place and without all of them functioning well, the very best of diets may be no better than the very worst of diets. These physiological processes are dependent on many aspects including proper rest, sleep, peace of mind, air, water, avoidance of excessive stress, genetics, etc., etc.

Fasting has an important place in Hygienic Practice, but it too has often times been over-relied upon as a panacea. Fasting is simply a resting of the body, an opportunity for it to catch up on its housework, regain its balance and recover its energy. It is basically a long duration between meals. When used appropriately it can be helpful in the process of recovery and the restoration of the nutritional processes of the body. It will fail, however, to be of benefit if used inappropriately and/or excessively. Not every sick person needs to fast nor should they. Fasting also will be of short-term benefit if the reasons the individual got sick in the first place are not addressed and frequently they are not.

The Hygienic Conferences I have attended in the past were notorious for their undue emphasis on diet and fasting...both in the presentations that were made, and in the conversations held among the members in attendance. As one esteemed Nature Cure Doctor from England remarked to me, "it seems as if everyone here is engaged in a contest as to who can report that they have fasted the longest!"
Do we want to focus all our attentions on life on what we eat or for how long we can go without eating? On our bowel movements and our food combinations? On the advantages of one diet vs. another? All topics worthy of attention but not to the exclusion of many other important aspects of life and living!

Appropriate fasting can produce significant advantages, yet many health problems can be resolved without it. Most important is to identify and address the reasons illness developed and address those causes in a persistent fashion. On the other hand, many Hygienists think that if only they could just fast longer or take yet another fast, their problems would be resolved.

Sadly, many fast themselves into a frenzy and weaken their systems in doing so. I have seen many over the years, (including during the period when I worked at a Hygienic Institute in the 1970's and many since in my clinical practice), whose repeated fasts had weakened their digestive powers, depleted their reserves and left them nervous and frustrated. Other times patients could have solved their problems simply by eating less on a regular basis and by addressing the real problem areas in their lives such as dissatisfaction with jobs, marriages, children, etc. I am in agreement with my friend and colleague Dr. John Fielder that it is appropriate (in general) to fast when we are acutely ill, when we have no desire to eat, and during periods of significant acute pain and/or fever.

  • Everything in perspective.
  • Each person taking the individualized route determined to be correct for them.
  • Understanding the many aspects of the nutritional process.
  • Taking a comprehensive view of life.

    These are important keys to the successful construction of a Hygienic Life.

    Dr. Goldberg Paul


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    Dr Goldberg, M.P.H., D.C., D.A.C.B.N., is a Certified Hygienic Practitioner, Clinical Epidemiologist, and Director of The Goldberg Clinic. His website can be found at


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