Healing the Body with Fasting
Did you know that the full quote from Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine was “Everyone has a physician inside of him or her. We just have to help it do its work. The natural force within each one of us is the greatest force for being well. Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food. But to eat when you are sick is to feed sickness”?
Even back then, Hippocrates and many of his contemporaries were proponents of fasting as a way of healing the body, heightening mental acuity, enhancing spiritual connection and promoting longevity. Fasting is an ancient therapy that has been used for thousands of years to reverse health conditions and reset the body and mind.
Now you might be thinking, does one have to do a long and difficult prolonged fast in order to reap the benefits of this amazing therapy? The answer is No. Science is showing that Intermittent Fasting can be just as effective as long term fasting.
The Science Behind Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. You already fast every day while you sleep. Intermittent fasting simply extends that fast a little bit longer. Intermittent fasting is very easy to do and most people actually report feeling better and having more energy during the fast.
Intermittent fasting or “IF” promotes healthy and sustainable body composition by stabilizing blood sugars and burning fat while simultaneously improving energy levels, mental clarity, muscle and skin tone.
The secret lies in taking an “insulin break” for 16-20 hours at a time so that the body can become insulin sensitive once again and tap into fat reserves as fuel.
Intermittent Fasting – The How
People new to intermittent fasting should start with the 16/8 method, and gradually work their way up to the 20/4 method. The point of IF is not calorie restriction, but rather, to shorten the “window” of eating so that the body can flip from digestion mode into repair mode. However, unconsciously you may find yourself naturally eating less, yet still feeling very satisfied. This is due to the stabilization of blood glucose levels and the restoration of proper singling of the hunger-satiety hormones that IF promotes.
- 16/8 method – skip breakfast and morning coffee break. Start eating at noon and stop eating by 8PM
- 20/4 method – skip breakfast, coffee breaks and lunch. Start eating at 4PM and stop eating by 8PM
Hydration is very important when fasting. Drink plenty of still water, sparkling water, and other non-caloric beverages such as tea or black coffee. Fasting Days is a ketogenic friendly intermittent fasting drink that is meant to be drank during fasting.
Fasting Days that helps optimize:
- Energy and healthy glucose metabolism
- Daily calorie management
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Muscle mass
- Bone density
- Hydration and electrolyte balance
- Hunger suppression
- Cognition and mood support
Example Eating Period For 20/4 Method
- 4pm Snack on something healthy, simple and easy to digest to gently break the fast, such as vegetable soup, a handful of pistachios or a protein shake with added chia seed, berries and a dairy free milk.
- 6pm Have a satisfying dinner with a serving of protein, plenty of leafy green salad and/or steamed veggies with healthy fats such as coconut oil or avocado. Avoid excess grains, starches and sugars.
- 8pm Another healthy snack if you’re feeling hungry.
Intermittent Fasting – The Why
1. Improves Health
- Autophagy – when insulin production is turned off a mechanism called Autophagy gets turned on. Autophagy means, “self-devouring”. Your body searches out and consumes “bad cells” and recycles the materials to produce new and healthy cells. This is showing promise in reducing the risk of many types of cancer.
- Stem Cell Production – fasting stimulates stem cell production which allows for self-renewal and reversal of many cellular diseases. Studies are showing an increase in longevity and reduction of inflammation.
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Production – studies show that fasting triggers the youth hormone known as “HGH” which increases muscle mass, improves skin tone, joint strength, energy metabolism, and fat burning.
- Healthy Weight Loss– IF is much different than calorie restriction diets. Calorie restriction shuts down then spikes glucose making the dieter feel deprived and fatigued causing a rebound effect and falling “off the wagon”. Fasting however, uses up stored glucose and shuts down insulin production thereby allowing us to become sensitive to insulin once again, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and gaining more energy without the crashes. With fasting we become “fat-adapted” or fat burning, which is the body’s preferred source of fuel because it is stable and sustainable.
- Digestive system and gut microbiome rest and reset: studies show that IF restores microbe diversity in the gut, increases our tolerance to “bad” bacteria, and restores the integrity of the epithelial lining, all of which has a beneficial outcome for our immune system which is 80% or more found in our gut.
2. Reduces Environmental Impact
It has been shown that there is a 45% decrease in food packaging, containers and recyclables while using a 20:4 IF protocol. It is evident that recycling just isn’t enough so it makes good sense to do our part to reduce excess plastic and packaging. Intermittent Fasting can help reduce our consumption and our own personal burden on the system.
3. Saves Time
- Skip the shopping time
- Skip the prepping and cooking time
- Skip the clean-up time
- Skip the driving time and costs of stores and drive-thrus.
4. Re-establish A Healthy Relationship With Food
It allows us to break the obsessive hold that food has over us in our modern consumerist culture. Food is all too often used as our primary source of bonding and pleasure. With consistent intermittent fasting we begin to realize that we have much less of a requirement for food than we have been conditioned to believe. As this conditioning is challenged, we begin to look to other ways to spend our time and enjoy the other pleasures life has to offer. Further to this, the digestion process itself requires a significant portion of our daily energy to breakdown, absorb and assimilate food giving us a net gain of very little energy from the process. This is why we feel ready for a nap after a big dinner. But with IF we can begin to really enjoy our relationship to food without feeling enslaved to it. And as a bonus, people who intermittent fast have more time and energy for leisure, family, recreational pursuits, and getting things done due to the increase in mental energy, focus, clarity and mood stability.
In summary, intermitting fasting is a modern take on the ancient therapy of fasting that is an extremely beneficial and sustainable lifestyle for both your body and the planet. Imagine that the simple answer to our health woes was not found in the pursuit of what we needed to do more, but in what we need to do less. And as we allow the inner physician to do its work, we are also allowing this natural force of well-being aid the planet in healing too.
Natalie Reimer Anderson was a former professional athlete and high school teacher before being sidelined by a debilitating autoimmune condition that caused her to pursue recovering her health full time. She is now known for her inspirational personal story of overcoming her illness through cultivating the mind-body-spirit connection to optimal health. As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Fitness Trainer and Life Coach for over a decade, she combines her expertise of intermittent fasting, cellular nutrition, and fitness hacks along with mindset training and cognitive therapies to transform lives from cell to soul.