Fasting: A fast way to good health?

Raimund Wilhelmi, the grandson of Dr Otto Buchinger, explains how his grandfather's fasting techniques can offer surprising health benefits

While it may seem counter-intuitive, fasting can actually strengthen the immune system and help with a wide range of illnesses.

In a nutshell, the benefits of fasting are based on the ability of the human body to temporarily live off its fat reserves and cleanse itself in the process.

Here at the Buchinger clinic, we have found that our method can help with everything from curing illnesses, strengthening the body’s own self-regenerating mechanisms, boosting energy and promoting a change towards a more healthy lifestyle.

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The technique we use – the Buchinger therapeutic fasting – is a modified form of fasting developed and refined through years of research and aligned to each patient’s individual needs. It is not pure water fasting with zero calorie intake, but a gentle method in which the body is supplied with around 250 calories per day in the form of freshly squeezed fruit juices and clear vegetable consommes.

The Buchinger Wilhelmi Clinic on Lake Constance

If required, this can be supplemented with protein through milk products, or micronutrients such as minerals, vitamins and trace elements as well as plenty of liquid in the shape of water or flavoured herbal teas.

This is followed by a “re-feeding” phase in which the body is carefully reintroduced to a full and preferably whole-food nutritional programme.

Our method aims to achieve a balance between rest and exercise, relaxation and exertion, contemplation and inspiration. As a result, so-called auxiliary techniques such as gymnastics, hiking and massages play an equally important role in the treatment.

The Buchinger Wilhelmi Clinic on Lake Constance

The clinic itself goes back to 1920, when my grandfather, Dr Otto Buchinger, founded his first sanatorium in Witzenhausen to treat his patients. During his lifetime, two further clinics were established: Klinik Dr Otto Buchinger was opened in Bad Pyrmont in 1935 and in 1953, together with his daughter, Maria, and her husband, Helmut Wilhelmi, he founded the clinic in Uberlingen on Lake Constance.

Finally, in 1973 Helmut and Maria Wilhelmi founded a third clinic in Marbella, southern Spain.

Nowadays, Buchinger Wilhelmi is still a family-owned business. Our clinics on Lake Constance and in Marbella are devoted to holistic health care and personal development and members of the third generation – including my wife and me – continue my grandfather's work.

In a fast-paced world, quality time is one of the things people prioritise least. While staying at our clinics and fasting, people have a lot of extra time. This can be spent on reading, writing, listening to music, experiencing nature and meditating – activities they usually don't have time for.

We try to design our clinics with a certain aesthetic – we call it “fasting architecture”: clear, pure forms, natural materials, bright colours and a lot of light, but no abundance, no decorative overkill, no bling.

The beautiful natural surroundings enhance this inner experience and make it easier to relax and forget worries back home, which all contributes to greater wellbeing after the fast is done and people return home.

A seven-night Time Out stay at Buchinger Wilhelmi on Lake Constance starts from €2,030 (approx. £1,714) per person. Return flights to Zurich from £70 (from London Gatwick) with easyJet. Buchinger Wilhelmi can provide transfers to and from the airport.

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