The Fasting and the Furious
Fasting has been around for as long as we can remember. For most people fasting is viewed as unhealthy and counterproductive – does this include you? It’s tattooed in our minds to eat at least three full meals a day, never starve yourself. How many times have you heard or read the following statement in diet books and health magazines?
“Eat small frequent meals throughout the day.”
Too often…? How many bells does it ring…? This philosophy is supported by some medical authorities, natural health practitioners, diet “gurus”, and TV personalities, and it may also be prescribed to support a healthier lifestyle. We’re not saying that this is a bad thing, we just want to point out that fasting can be another healthy choice or alternative for you.
This newsletter is intended to provide you with an overview about intermittent fasting. In the end, we hope that you are enlightened about the advantages of intermittent fasting. Other considerations in relation to intermittent fasting are also briefly discussed afterwards. Fasting discussed here deals with health issues and in no way associated with the fasting practices of some religions.
To comprehend intermittent fasting for health, we need to understand these two terms:
Fasting – is basically abstinence from food or drink or both. This is done over a specified period of time. The fasting itself can be absolute or partial. Absolute fasting means abstinence from food AND fluids (excluding water) commonly accomplished over a period of 24 hours or a few days. Abstinence from other activities aren’t included in our discussion here. Partial fasting means abstinence or exclusion of certain foods, Generally foods that require less digesting are included as part of a partial fast.
Intermittent fasting – is alternating periods of fasting and non-fasting. The fasting period may allow low-calorie liquids and water. Most programs divide the periods into 1-2 days at a time, however this can vary.
The Advantages of Intermittent Fasting
- Reduce the number of age-related diseases you may acquire. With intermittent fasting, the number of chronic diseases you can develop can be reduced. This can be attributed to a reduction of circulating IGF-1 in your blood. Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1) is partially responsible for the initiation and progression of the numerous age-related diseases you can encounter (cancer, diabetes mellitus type 2, hypertension, etc.). Intermittent fasting increases your life expectancy. This has been documented in human and animal studies.
- Activate your sleeping repair genes. Your body possesses numerous repair genes. These genes are responsible for patching up repairs and making sure everything goes smoothly whenever something goes wrong. With intermittent fasting these sleeping repair genes get primed for action, ready to go to work making repairs.
- Your digestive system needs rest too. It’s not only you who needs rest you know. Your digestive system also needs rest from digesting all the things you gobble (okay, eat) up each day. It also includes your pancreas (an accessory organ of the digestive system), responsible for secreting insulin. Giving them both a rest will improve your body’s insulin sensitivity. This reduces risks for being overweight, developing diabetes and acquiring heart diseases.
- Abstain from food, improve your mood. You’ve probably never heard of this one before. What you’ve already heard, might be the opposite. Actually, fasting can improve your mood. How? Remember that thing inside your head? When fasting your brain adapts by producing more brain derived neurotrophic factors. Neurotrophic factors are actually a family of proteins and their related cousins responsible for the sustenance and survival of your neurons (brain cells). Simply put, they make your neurons and other structures function better. Of course, it will take time for your mood to improve. Let your brain adapt first. Not to mention, when you see yourself losing weight because of intermittent fasting, will that not improve your mood? Hmm.
- Weight loss. You were probably expecting to see this one at number 1 or 2 at the top, right? Weight loss is just a natural effect of intermittent fasting. It’s no secret. You reboot your metabolism like a computer when you fast. Your computer runs faster after reboot right? So does your body, Robocop, (just kidding about the Robocop, true story about the reboot).
Now that you know the advantages of intermittent fasting, let’s touch briefly on some issues that might concern you at this point.
Intermittent fasting will work because your body has an ability to heal itself. The problem with today’s modern medicine is that the body isn’t given that chance. How often do we swallow a pill to cure something that hurts a little? We have become so dependent on modern medicine.
The majority of modern chronic diseases today are a product of our own (modern) ‘sophisticated’ lifestyles. Intermittent fasting offers hope in these cases by giving your body a chance to recover from the effects of this lifestyle.
Intermittent fasting provides a time-out for your body. We all know food can introduce toxins in addition to the other endogenously produced, harmful by-products from the biochemical reactions in the body.
Abstaining from food means that your digestive system gets a much needed rest from all the hard work it’s been doing. Furthermore, fasting mobilizes toxins from their so-called storage sites, so they can be eliminated.
Intermittent fasting will not dull your senses. On the other hand, it improves your focus and attention. You get details better. Your mind is forced to adapt and sharpen its skills to a point that only a minimal amount of energy is used (because you’re fasting).
Fasting is different from starvation. Let’s make that clear, starvation doesn’t equate to fasting, and fasting isn’t about starving and then binging afterwards. Starvation starts when your body’s reserves are wiped out. Of course your body’s reserves have a limit. Everything does. Knowing when to stop fasting is another concept your body has to adapt to.
To the majority out there, intermittent fasting may be new. But trying something new doesn’t mean you have to fear or dread it. You just have to know how to do it right. There are many intermittent fasting programs out there. The degree of fasting will depend on your preferences. Through intermittent fasting, you may get to know your body better and notice how it efficiently responds to new experiences. Intermittent fasting isn’t a new diet fad turned fraud later on. It’s an alternative way to rejuvenate your mind and body. Hopefully, after reading this, you can see and appreciate fasting WITHOUT being furious.