NEW: Plant Yourself merch designed by my daughter, Yael Zivan.

The Oldest Cure in the World: Steve Hendricks on PYP 531

YouTube player
Fasting has a long and twisted history, driven variously by religion, misogyny, self-loathing, and twin quests for purity and transcendence.

Oh and by the way, it's also one of the most powerful therapies ever discovered for halting, reversing, and preventing some of the most widespread and deadly diseases around.

Today's guest, Steve Hendricks, is at least three things: a tenacious reporter, a brilliant and hilarious writer, and a truly good dude. He brings all those qualities to bear in his new book, The Oldest Cure in the World: Adventures in the Art and Science of Fasting.

I almost postponed the interview because it was taking me way longer to read the book than I had allotted. Unlike most non-fiction books about health, this one was a literary gem, with fantastic lines scattered like laugh-bombs throughout its pages.

The first thing I realized was that Steve is a stickler for actual facts. In the first few pages, he managed to debunk several of my long-held beliefs. First, Hippocrates never said, “Let food by thy medicine, and medicine be thy food,” or at least if he did, no one was around to record it.

Second, most of the august figures of history to whom we attribute beliefs about the power of fasting never expressed those beliefs (Pythagoras, I'm looking at you; apparently, you weren't even into triangles).

And third, fasting in the ancient world and late antiquity was largely relegated to women and girls, to rid them of those pesky “moist and warm” humors that led to uncontrollable lust from both sexes.

The book follows two parallel tracks. One is a history of fasting from ancient times to the present day. It looks at the heroes and villains (sometimes the same person), including Jerome (the fella who translated the Bible into Latin), Catherine of Siena (who as a child got her friends to play a frolicking game of “whip each other with knotted ropes to drive out the Devil”), and Sylvester Graham, whose cracker ensures his immortality and who wrote his way into literary history with his description of orgasm, of which he soundly disapproved, as “the convulsive paroxysms attending venereal indulgence.”

This track introduces us to the present-day inheritors of fasting for health, including Alan Goldhamer, DC, of True North Health Center, and the folks at Buchinger Wilhelmi in Germany.

The second track is Steve's personal experiences of fasting, which he's done for many years to address a collection of physical and mental health issues.

I'm fasting today, thanks to the inspiration that Steve and his book provided.

(Oh yeah: Please consult with your healthcare professional before doing anything that a guest or I ever talk about on this podcast.)

What's especially joyful about this book is Steve's insistence on getting the science right. He argues against unsupported claims no matter where they come from: vegans, keto promoters, Valter Longo, you name it. He doesn't overstate the power of fasting, noting that hype is one of the enemies of widespread acceptance by the scientific community.

And he presents a sympathetic and balanced picture of all the actors, expressing disapproval where warranted and graceful generosity where possible.

In short, this book should absolutely become a bestseller, and the seed crystal of a new appreciation of fasting, with a clear eye on its potential, its dangers, and its limitations.



The Oldest Cure in the World

True North Health Center

Buchinger Wilhelmi Natural Spa


Looking for Transformational Change?

You know how when you discovered plant-based eating, you basically went, “Holy shit, how come the entire healthcare system isn't totally embracing this as one of the most powerful keys to disease prevention and reversal!”?

That's how I feel now about a psychological approach to transformational change called “Memory Reconsolidation.” Few psychologists have heard about it, and when they do hear the radical transformations it can bring about in a very short time, they're often skeptical to the point of disbelief.

But I've added Memory Reconsolidation work to my own coaching, and can attest to its amazing efficacy. So much so, that I'm devoting the next year to mastering it, studying with the best clinicians and teachers in the world, and then introducing it into health coaching through my trainings.

Right now, I want to triple my coaching practice to get more and more opportunities to do this work. And I'm lowering my fees – a lot – to make it easier for people to work with me.

If you're interested in working with me (and willing to commit to a minimum of 2 months), click the link below to open the form in a new browser tab and I'll get back to you within 3 business days.

Yes, I'm interested in Memory Reconsolidation Coaching.

You CAN Change Other People!

Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.

What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.

Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.

Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight

Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.

It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂

Tip Jar

This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by clicking the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.


The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.


This post may contain amazon affiliate links. I may receive compensation from your actions on such links. It don't cost you a dime, tho.

1 comment on “The Oldest Cure in the World: Steve Hendricks on PYP 531

  1. Julia says:

    I just found your podcast for the first time today. Awesome discussion with Steve Hendricks on his book about fasting. Thank you so much!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *