Pilates coach Julia Rokitta (R) trains Phillip Gumpfer in the fitness room at the Buchinger-Wilhelmi Clinic in Ueberlingen, southern Germany, on March 24, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/CHRISTOF STACHE)
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Michael van Almsick, 57, is a fasting devotee and, once a year for the last two decades, has spent a month at the Buchinger-Wilhelmi clinic on the shore of scenic Lake Constance on the Swiss border.Otto Buchinger (1878-1966), for whom the facility is named, experimented with fasting to treat rheumatoid arthritis, an affliction that forced him to quit his post as a navy physician in 1917 during World War I. A century later, his fasting method is the most widely used in Germany.Respected news weekly Der Spiegel dedicated a favorable cover story to the practice in 2011 and a book on the subject by a former employee of the clinic, Hellmut Luetzner, has sold more than 2 million copies in Germany since it was published in the 1970s.The Charite Hospital in Berlin has offered supervised fasting for 50 years, where patients can undergo a 12- to 14-day program paid for, in part, by their health insurance.
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