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Food & diet

Hygienism: treatment with fasting is a health risk

March 22, 2018

No medicine, a vegan-inspired plant diet and absolute fasting as the only method of treatment. Hygienism, a cultural movement born in the United States at the beginning of the nineteenth century, is also known in Italy and it is proposed as a lifestyle based on the return to natural laws and the so-called alternative medicine to treat pathological states. This current of thought, carried out in Italy by the association of the same name, lacks, however, a recognized scientific foundation. If followed to the letter and practiced rigorously, hygienic practices can seriously endanger people’s health. Dr. Manuela Pastore, dietician at Humanitas, explains why.


Fasting as a method of detoxifying a suffering body

Hygiene has nothing to do with the scientifically validated mima-fasting diets, and it still lacks scientific validation, or with other currents of thought such as homeopathy, macrobiotics or naturopathy. This movement, in the name of the need for a more natural lifestyle, theorizes that the body, without introducing any nutrients and drugs, can implement a process of self-healing able to cure most diseases. Fasting, on the other hand, is a practice that can only be useful if it is carried out under strict medical supervision and for a limited period of time. Only a nutrition specialist can decide whether or not to prescribe fasting to people with some kind of disease, as well as to a healthy person.

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Can I fast if I am healthy?

The refusal of food and medicines can seriously endanger the life of a person in a state of weakness or illness and cause a serious form of malnutrition that makes it even more difficult to recover physically and heal. However, when you are healthy, do things change? A hygienist chooses to consume a diet based on vegetables, seeds, and fruit, foods almost exclusively raw, liquids taken mainly from fruit and vegetables and avoids any kind of refined or processed food. A healthy person can naturally choose to follow the philosophy of life with which he feels most in tune, including hygienicity, while being aware of the risk of incurring nutritional deficiencies that can only be filled with supplements that they refuse. When you are well, you may have some contraindications, although these may not be dangerous.


During an illness of any kind, but especially when the risk of malnutrition due to increased metabolism or difficulty in feeding or excessive losses is very high, the choice of alternative dietary styles can be very dangerous. How to put this lifestyle into practice during a period of illness? This style of eating is deeply unbalanced from the nutritional point of view because it lacks the main nutrients present in the right percentages, essential for the functioning of the body: carbohydrates, proteins, fats together with fiber, water, minerals and vitamins act individually and in synergy to give us energy.


It may be adopted provided that it is regulated by a proportionate distribution of all the nutrients required by the body. In this case too, it goes without saying that without medical supervision it is absolutely inadvisable to adopt a lifestyle of hygienic living.

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