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Dr. Cinque's FAQ page

Frequently Asked Questions


What are some of the biggest challenges that people face in trying to live healthfully?

A big problem is the fact that there is so much bad health advice out there, particuarly as regards diet. But, I think the greatest challenges are the social ones. People are under pressure from their families and friends, and from society at large, to live, eat, and indulge the way most people do. Then, people tend to be very hard on themselves when they fail, and they want give up. As Ginger Rogers told us, you need to "Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again." 

So, keep a positive attitude and forgive yourself when you fall off the wagon. Nobody is perfect. Arise each morning with a new resolve to keep trying to get it right. Don't carry yesterday's failures into the new day.

What are the top priorities in reforming your lifestyle to improve your health?
The first thing to concentrate on discontinuing all poison habits, such as smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, and taking drugs. And when I says "drugs" I am referring to both recreational drugs and medical drugs. Of course, there are exceptions when it comes to medical drugs. For instance, if you are taking thyroid replacement, that you have to continue. And if you are on insulin, you probably have to continue that too. However, there are many medical drugs, including prescription drugs that can be safely discontinued as a result of adopting a healthy lifestyle. However, I encourage people to work with a sympathetic physcian and not try to do it alone. That is always a good idea in such cases. But, I honestly believe that much of modern medical practice amounts to dangerous pharmaceutical tinkering and nothing more; it does not foster good health. Dietarily, start by increasing your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Cut out the junk foods. Reduce your meat consumption. And cut out dairy products completely. You don't need them, and you are better off without them.

Give priority to sleep. There is nothing more restorative than sleep.

Why is it that more people are not aware of fasting, and why is fasting not more commonly practiced in Medicine?
The short answer is that there is no large commercial interest in promoting fasting, so the media does not promote it. Also, it is not part of the curriculum of medical schools, and it is considered 'radical'. People, including most doctors, have an exaggerated idea of how difficult it is to fast. They have unwarranted fears about fasting, and again, that includes most doctors. It wasn't that long ago that the Encyclopedia Britannica stated that a person would die of heart failure after 12 days of fasting. That is ridiculous. I, myself, have fasted over twice as long as that.  And remember: Medicine is a pharmaceutically-oriented profession. They are organized and mobilized to offer drug treatments in lieu of anything else.   

What about water fasting vs. juice fasting? Which is better?

         I believe that water fasting is much to be preferred. And, one mustn't assume that water fasting is more difficult. Juices sometimes have the effect of whetting a person's appetite and reminding them that they haven't eaten. In contrast, a total water-only fast allows ketosis to set in which suppresses appetite. Believe me, we couldn't get people to fast for weeks at a time, as we do, if they were constantly hungry. Also, consuming juices prevents the adapatations to fasting that the body makes when it is on a total water-only fast. The result is that it is actually more conserving to fast on water than on juices. Really, a juice fast should be called a juice diet because that is what it is. For myself personally, I would only consider doing a water fast. However, we sometimes have to settle for juice fasting with our guests; for instance, sometimes a person is taking one or more mdications which cannot be discontinued, which prevents them from water-fasting. As a rule, we do not want people taking drugs while doing a complete fast. It is something I would allow only if the person's physician approved and was involved. For most people, water fasting is definitely to be preferred over juice fasting.

What about colon cleansing during fasting? Many fasting places offer it, but what say you?

        I am opposed to the use of enemas, colonics, and other purging practices while fasting- and at other times. People have the wrong idea about the colon. It's not about getting your colon ultra-clean..It is a waste conduit, a sewer, so it doesn't have to be that clean. What you want for your colon is for it to be normal, that is to function normally, healthfully, and optimally. But, you can't get to normal by taking enemas and colonics. They are inherently abnormal. And they are very disruptive. I have never met a gastroenterologist yet who advocated such practices, and I have spoken to many. So, whether you are eating or fasting, leave your colon alone. There is no reason to fool with it. Remember what Dr. John Tilden used to say: "Mind your own business, and let your colon mind its." If you want to do something constructive for your colon that may be helpful, it's fine to take a good probiotic (friendly bacteria). However, it would be pointless to do so while fasting. You can do it after the fast. But, don't be hosing down your colon . None of the chambers of the body were meant to be irrigated. You are not going to establish a healthy balance that way. You do not irrigate your bladder, and you have no need to irrigate your colon.

What about eating an all-raw diet?

        I think it's important to emphasize raw foods and make them a big part of the diet. However, to restrict ourselves to only raw foods is a form of dietary extremism that I neither practice nor endorse. Keep in mind that the so-called advantages to eating an all-raw diet are entirely theoretical and philosophical. There are no good practical reasons to do it. Many foods, including some of the most important vegetables, are more digestible cooked than raw. Broccoli is a good example. I'm well aware that wild animals do not cook their foods, but that is not sufficient reason for a human being to refrain from cooking. And the fact that some nutrients are destroyed by cooking is not an important consideration either. Read "Diet and Nutrition" by Dr. Rudolph Ballantine. He makes the valid point that when it's time to eat green beans, that raw, he can eat 1, maybe 2, but cooked he can eat a whole bowlful, and the total nutrition of that larger serving of cooked green beans exceeds the value of one or two raw beans. And there are other issues that make those cooked green beans a better, more digestible choice. Remember, it's what you utilize that matters. So, I say don't get overly philosophical about food. Eat raw fruits, raw salad vegetables, and raw nuts, seeds, and avocadoes. But, eat some cooked vegetables and legumes and perhaps some cooked brown rice. They are all good foods, and I do believe that the broader mixed diet of raw and cooked is superior.

What about eating an ultra-low fat diet, such as the McDougall Plan?

        I am opposed to it. It is perfectly natural and normal for a human being to eat some fat. I'll add that it is just as normal for humans to eat fats as it is for them to eat carbs. Half the calories in human breast milk are fat. Therefore, our very first experience in life with food involves fat. Recent research (from 2010) discovered that humans have specific taste-buds for fats, which are very sensitive. It's our very nature to hone-in on fats. What do you think happened when a caveman stumbled upon a pistachio nut tree? Do you think he worried about fats being bad? So, why fight it? You're fighting your own nature. Istead, be very careful about which fats you eat. The best fats are raw nuts, raw seeds, and avocadoes. A little extra virgin olive oil, used sparingly, can be a good thing too. I eat it, and I'm thin. The important thing is to distinguish "good fats" from "bad fats" and control the total fat content of your diet. That's what I do, and I stay lean. I weigh the same now at 65 as I did at 30.  

Can fasting relieve pain?

        It depends on what is causing the pain. If pain is due to inflammation, then fasting is likely to relieve it since fasting helps resolve inflammation. Fasting is usually effective at resolving chronic headaches. I have also seen fasting resolve chronic backaches. It makes sense to fast when you are in pain because you're not usually hungry. Who really feels like eating when they are in pain?

Can anybody fast?

No, there are contraindications to fasting. Pregnant women should not fast, at least not more than a day or two. There are people on medications who should not fast. Extreme thinness is a contraindication to fasting. And those who are sick in any major way should definitely consult with a doctor before fasting- and preferably one who is knowledgable about fasting. Fasting is a natural process, and it can do tremendous good, but it still requires carefulness and caution. People should not attempt to fast without the right conditions and competent supervision.

What background should a fasting supervisor have?
I think one should should have a good general medical education (which means completing medical, osteopathic, or chiropractic college). And then, doing an internship through the International Association of Hygienic Physicians (IAHP) is a good way to go.

What is your longest fast?
The longest fast that I have done myself was 28 days, and the longest fast that I have supervised was 40 days. That was a man from Chicago. He had just retired, and he was in his sixties. He was considerably overweight, and he had elevated blood pressure. He decided to start his retirement off by getting a physiological overhaul, i.e, by taking a fast. I have a photo of him posing on his last day of fasting, holding a placard which read 40. He did very well. A second man from Ethiopia fasted for 40 days with me a few years ago. He also did very well. He remained ambulatory to the end. He looked good at the end. His weight dropped from 240 to 200. However, most people who come to my retreat fast for 7 to 10 days.


For comments or questions - e-mail DoctorCinque@hotmail.com

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