Retune the Body with a Partial Fast

This is a great article on NPR about the benefits of short term fasting. Remember, we are never talking about extended fasting to the point of muscle loss, nutrient deficiency, lowered performance and starvation. This is not the same thing as a smart planned IF protocol. I know people when they first hear the word “fast” will say, “So you are starving yourself?” or “That is bulimia!” or some other statement. In a sense they can be right, if the fasting protocols are not done correctly. You will always see when we talk about IF we stress getting quality foods with plenty of nutrients, plenty of protein, and still plenty of calories….it’s just not the 3000-4000+ /day that people generally eat….the same population that suffers from rapid increases in heart diseases, cancers, obesity and other illnesses.

Here’s some snippets from the article with my commentary, you can read and listen to the whole thing here.

For thousands of years, beginning with philosophers like Hippocrates, Socrates and Plato, fasting was recommended for health reasons. The Bible writes that Moses and Jesus fasted for 40 days for spiritual renewal.

Yep fasting has been around for thousands and thousands of years. Whether people knew it or not, it is nature’s built in response for healing. It is also used in spiritual ways to get a “clear” mind, which many people can report increased mental clarity with just short fasts.

Newborns can’t sleep through the night because they need to eat every few hours. They don’t produce enough glycogen, the body’s form of stored sugar, to make energy.

So the argument of “well babies need to eat all day long….so do adults” is not valid at all (and yes I have heard this from people). Makes sense as adults have larger stores of fat, muscle and eat more calories per day compared to babies.

“You re-tune the body, suppress insulin secretion, reduce the taste for sugar, so sugar becomes something you’re less fond of taking,” Neufeld says.

Eventually the body burns up stored sugars, or glycogen, so less insulin is needed to help the body digest food. That gives the pancreas a rest.

High blood insulin levels and insulin resistance are at the heart of 99.9% of all our problems when it comes to long term diseases and ageing. So having periods in which there is no digestion and being able to lower resistance and insulin levels is a great benefit. Could it also mean that all these sugar cravings are just a by product of elevated fasting insulin levels? So if you use fasting and a sensible eating plan to lower insulin resistance and levels, could all those cravings for sugar go away?

Mark Mattson, a scientist with the National Institute on Aging, says that when we convert food into energy, our bodies create a lot of byproducts we could do without, including free radicals.

“These free radicals will attack proteins, DNA, the nucleus of cells, the membranes of cells,” Mattson says. “They can damage all those different molecules in cells.”

Digestion is like anything that creates energy…there has to be waste products as well, similar to a cars that produces more carbon dioxide with the more gas it burns. Our body has a way to deal with free radicals with built in antioxidants production, but we can only do so much. Free radicals are now being introduced into our environment from many sources like the air we breath. Our cells are the route of health and balance, as that is what we are made up of….trillions of cells. So once cell health is compromised….you get sickness, disease and ageing. Eating foods high in quality antioxidants is necessary (fruits, vegetables) but also we need to reduce the load of free radicals in our lifestyle (less foods/calories to digest, get rid of unstable fats in Polyunsaturated and Trans Fats, do not excessively overdo high aerobic “with oxygen” exercise as the more calories you burn the more waste products you create with oxidative damage).

Partial fasting may even extend lifespan because eating less sends a message to the cells of the body that they should conserve and use energy more efficiently.

“When they’re exposed to a mild stress, [the body’s cells] sort of expect that maybe this is going to happen again,” Mattson says. “So maybe next time I may have to go longer without food, so I’d better be able to deal with that when it comes on.”

This is the key benefit of IF when compared to any diet or CR plan. Only fasting signals a “stress response” that will strengthen the cellular protection as seen in the heart, lungs, and neuroendorcrine responses. By giving our body small doses (not excessive) periods of stress, we tell it to become stronger. A stronger cell is going to be more resistant to the attack of free radicals or cancerous destructions. You do not get the same responses when you do an all day eating plan no matter what the calories are, it’s not the same stress mechanisms. Could this really be the key to having a strong body resistant to an ever increasing toxic environment and living a long and functional life while many other suffer from degenerative diseases of the heart, brain and other vital organs?

The problem, Neufeld says, is that when muscle breaks down, potentially toxic proteins are released. These proteins are partly composed of nitrogen, and too much nitrogen in the body can be toxic to the kidneys and liver. That’s when starvation is officially under way.

Yes, that is a problem. Hence you will never see us talking about muscle loss as any kind of goal and why IF in the wrong hands can be dangerous. So keep in mind, that more is not always better when it comes to IF, SMARTER is better. Use it wisely and you can be improving your life and extending it….use it improperly and you could be doing something that damages your health.

photo by thisguyukno

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