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.
Buchinger Wilhelmi Natural Spa
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 🙂
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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, WillRidenour.com.
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1 comment on “The Oldest Cure in the World: Steve Hendricks on PYP 531”
I just found your podcast for the first time today. Awesome discussion with Steve Hendricks on his book about fasting. Thank you so much!