intermittent fasting

“Fasting is the most powerful healing solution ever. It has been used by all cultures all over the world and one that is virtually forgotten today,” said Dr. Jason Fung. Fasting is not the same as starvation. It is the controlled voluntary abstinence of food for different reasons. You can do it for spiritual reasons, health reasons, or as a political statement. [1]

Our bodies are designed to burn food to create energy. What isn’t burned right away, is stored for use in times of food scarcity. Benjamin Franklin said the best of all medicines are resting and fasting. Resting is freedom from stress and fasting is a cleansing or purification of the body. Many religions encourage fasting and their members have been doing it without harm for many, many years. There are many benefits – it helps with weight loss, insulin sensitivity and type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, liver disease. Many of us will benefit from intermittent fasting, even if you are disease free.

Think about it, most of us go through the night without eating. The first meal we eat after this time has a name – break-fast. So we are already doing it. There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting. They all split the day or week into eating and fasting periods. What it really boils down to is having a greater length of time not eating than eating. [2]

When we consume food, our bodies quickly begin to convert it to sugar for energy. What is not used immediately is strung together in long sugar molecule chains called glycogen. These are stored in the liver to be used later. The liver has a limited storage space and whatever else we intake is converted to fat for long term storage. Our bodies were designed to do this with the understanding that sometime we will need to use those stores. 

A few hours after a meal, the glycogen stored in the liver is called up to produce energy. It may take 10 -12 hours to burn all the glycogen stored in the liver. Only after that will fat begin to be consumed for energy. When you start burning fats, you produce ketone bodies and it turns out that ketone bodies are very good for your brain. They provide a different kind of fuel to be burned for energy.

“Fasting is a challenge to your brain by activating adaptive stress response pathways that help your brain cope with stress and resistance to disease,” said Mark Mattson, professor at Johns Hopkins University [3]. “It stimulates the production of stem cells and increases the production of neurotrophic factors which promote the growth of neurons, improve the connection of neurons and strengthen nerve synapses.” He has also learned that the neurotrophic factors increase the number of mitochondria in new nerve cells and this helps the cells produce more energy and enhances their ability to repair oxidative damage to DNA. Sort of like turning the aging clock backwards.[3]

“On the days you don’t eat so much, you are more productive.” Dr Matton concluded. [3]

References

1. Dr Jason Fung (diet doctor). https://youtu.be/VIhhrYjVhOk; https://www.dietdoctor.com/intermittent-fasting

2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide#effects

3. Why fasting bolsters brain power: Mark Mattson – https://youtu.be/4UkZAwKoCP8

Billie Nicholson, Editor
September 2018

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