Although a salted diet appears to be a sine qua non for the development of essential hypertension, low-salt diets often have a modest or even negligible impact on the blood pressure of hypertensives; this suggests that salt, perhaps often acting in concert with other aspects of a modern, rich diet, may set in place certain metabolic vicious cycles that sustain blood pressure elevation even when dietary salt is eliminated. Therapeutic fasting is known to lower elevated blood pressure - presumably in large part because it minimizes insulin secretion - and may have the potential to break some of these vicious cycles. Goldhamer has recently reported that a regimen comprised of a water-only fast of moderate duration, followed by a transition to a low-fat, low-salt, whole-food vegan diet, achieves dramatic reductions in the blood pressure of hypertensives, such that the large majority of patients can be restored to normotensive status, in the absence of any drug therapy. Although long-term follow-up of these subjects has been sporadic, the available data suggest that these large reductions is blood pressure can be conserved in patients who remain compliant with the follow-up diet - in other words, a 'cure' for hypertension may be feasible. If a protein-sparing modified fast can be shown to be virtually as effective as a total fast for achieving these benefits, it may be possible to implement this regimen safely on an outpatient basis. The ability of therapeutic fasts to break metabolic vicious cycles may also contribute to the efficacy of fasting in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and autoimmune disorders. As a general principle, if a metabolic disorder is susceptible to prevention - but not reversal - by a specific diet, and therapeutic fasting has a temporary favorable impact on this disorder, then a more definitive therapy may consist of a therapeutic fast, followed up by the protective diet as a maintenance regimen.
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