Normally when people think of fasting they think about religion, weight loss or a political protest. And when you ask why they do it the answers vary from discipline, self-restraint or control. These are good initial answers, but once it is no longer a challenge for you, why do you continue? Hopefully, by the end of this, it will help with deeper or less common reasons. If that is your purpose.
The reality is that many people fast for many different reasons. In the past, many cultures performed this for various health as well as spiritual reasons. There are many types of fasting:
- Intermittent – during a certain time frame. Typically 12 -18 hours. Sometimes up to 24 hours
- Dry- no food or water
- Liquid – no food
- Partial – restricting certain types of food
Partial fasts are commonly used in the health area to determine food allergies and sensitivities. Literally, what an allergy or sensitivity is, is your immune system fighting a specific food (or substance in the food) that you are eating. Why would your body do this? This particular food could have been introduced to a part of your body where food is not supposed to be, due to this, your body now identifies it as a threat. This happens a lot with people who have leaky gut, IBS or other digestive issues. It could also be the amount of chemicals in the food that keeps your body from identifying it as food. My theory is, that is the problem with pollen right now and why so many people who were never allergic are now having crazy sinus issues. As of now, it is just a theory. These partial fasts can range from a couple weeks to months or years. The benefit is an improved digestive tract or immune system.
Dry and liquid intermittent fasts are used all the time in the medical industry when you need to have some sort of blood work or any other test done on the body. These fasts can be from 12 hours to a couple of days. Now, in other areas such as alternative medicine, holistic health and traditional lifestyles/Ancestral diet. These fasts have caught on like wildfire! So much so, that there is a lot of money and research being poured into this area to find out all of its affects on the body. Right now, if you look up the benefits of intermittent fasting it will tell you that it is great for detoxification or weight loss, but it goes so much deeper than that. The data states that this type of fasting can:
- Change the function of cells, genes and hormones
- Help you lose weight and belly fat
- Reduce insulin resistance, lowering your risk of Type 2 diabetes
- Reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body
- Improve the cardiovascular system
- Prompts the cellular repair Processes
- Assists in preventing cancer and Alzheimer’s (Gunnar, 2017)
So how does it do this? Cell functions in the body change on a regular basis depending on the demands needed by the body. We know this because they malfunction due our inability to meet its demands. For example, you choose to now ride your bike to work instead of driving or catch the bus. Maybe You are eating less meals or possibly more. Do to you withdrawing the amount of food that you eat. Naturally, your insulin levels will drop encouraging your body to burn reserved energy storage. This is how it helps with weight loss and diabetes. In human studies on intermittent fasting, fasting blood sugar has been reduced by 3-6%, while fasting insulin has been reduced by 20-31% (Barnosy, Hoddy, 2014). This was achieved with alternate day fasting, 3 out of the 7 days a week they fasted, no other food restrictions were made. Which another study did not turn out beneficial for women. I will touch on why this is later on in this discussion.
The hormone receptors and transmitters resets during fasting. This is part of your endocrine system. So when we think of all the endocrine type of diseases out there such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, seizures and dementia. This sounds pretty interesting.
I came across a man by the name of Richard Jacobson when I was at the Ancestral Health Symposium in 2016. The title of his lecture was “Increase Your Healthspan” and his whole discussion was on fasting. He was big on 10-day liquid fasts. He kept copious notes about his health and body and the affects of fasting. I am going to attach his lecture so that you can see/hear him for yourself.
A little snippet, he’s 70-year-old male researcher who looks in his late 40s early 50s. His talk while a little dry, is very informative. His results, make you want to try it immediately….or maybe that was just me (ha ha). He actually reversed his kidney disease during the fast and lost 8lbs or visceral fat. He also talks about fasting clinics, which aren’t typically in the U.S. they are in Europe. The one he went to was in Spain. The difference, there is a medical staff with doctors and nurses at the clinic to monitor your health and lower prescription medication if you have high blood pressure and diabetes. This isn’t actually a new concept. Historically these types of clinics were all over before the current medical practice appeared. Liquid fasts are known to alleviate many conditions like eczema and other skin problems, migraine, sinusitis, chronic body aches, asthma, allergies, arthritis, etc.
Typically, majority of the enzymes used in your body focuses on digesting the foods that have been eaten. When they don’t have to focus on this, they are able to clean out debris in your blood vessels, address the causes of inflammation and help the body to address all the minor problems that have built up in the body which the body just hasn’t had time to get to. This could be fractures, tears as well as foreign viruses, bacteria and etc. In any part of rebuilding the body, enzymes are used to 1st break down the damaged parts before the cells can rebuild. This process is even part of your bone building. This discovery of how enzymes can work in the body has cause science to have two different functional categories of enzymes. The one we all know is digestive enzymes and the second to be systemic enzymes. Systemic enzymes address systems (circulatory, lymphatic, skeletal, nervous and endocrine systems) are even known to eliminate scar tissue, keloids, etc. So when we are talking about fasting, we are talking about the body changing from digestive to systemic. Now that your blood and other areas of clear of waste and debris, the cells can shed the waste they have which reduces oxidative stress (This is a way of saying the cells age slower) and if they age slower so do you. In one study, rats that fasted every other day lived 83% longer than rats who weren’t fasting (Goodrick, Ingram, 2009). However, they hadn’t studied different forms of the intermittent fasting to see what their percentages would be.
Now let’s scoot on over to dry fasting (My favorite) since we touched on it a little with the study of rats. The results between liquid and dry fasting is almost the same. However, There is a saying that “one day of dry fasting is equivalent to 3 days of liquid fasting” One of the commenters of a fasting forum stated ”
Dry fasting can help with issues such as inflammation. If you have any sort of long-term pain such as lower back pain (myself personally), dry fasting can be quite beneficial. Water can cause swelling around muscles, so the lack thereof can speed up recovery times. This is much more potent than using an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.” (Quickhealz, 2016)”
During a dry fast, the body survives on metabolic water, produced internally as a result of metabolizing fat tissue. Unlike any external water, this metabolic water is of pure quality and produced by the hard work of our own cells. It literally erases any negative information imprint which the body had before the fast, allowing cells to reset or experience a kind of a rebirth. Taking in any available water from the air and supplying it to healthy cells. Besides water, the body during a dry fast absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide and nitrogen to manufacture its own amino acids. Since there is no water to flush out the internal toxins, these are eliminated by means of a unique mechanism which is dormant during less rigorous modes of fasting. Each cell, in effect, becomes the furnace that burns up its own waste.(Santosa, 2015) So if you notice a slight right in body temperature. This is what is happening.
As a result, inflammation cannot exist without water (as the commenter mentioned above stated). Microorganisms need water to survive, think of yeast and bacterial infections, candida and dysbiosis. Dry fasting is a very effective in addressing acute health issues and degenerative conditions. It stimulates the immune system, activates the body’s anti-inflammatory mechanisms, purifies the blood and clears the blood vessels due to the enzymes, as well as cleanses the GI tract (enzymes again) and renews its mucosal lining which is what a lot if people who have IBS and leaky gut have damaged. Dry fasting also eliminates parasites and promotes regeneration of healthy tissues. Which is what happens with hibernating animals as well. Every cell of the body literally cleans house. Only the strongest and healthiest of cells survive in such extreme conditions. Which means cysts and benign tumors dissolve as a result of autolysis a process by which the body sacrifices its sickest cells for its own survival. Again, this is where enzymes come into play (Santosa, 2015)
The caveat I will say on dry fasting, is that you have to gradually work your way into this. Most people recommend to try liquid fasting and work your way into dry fasting. For me, I started with half the time 6 then 12 and on up. For women, please don’t try this when you are menstruating, you are loosing a lot of blood and this may cause you to pass out or become light-headed.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal did a study (while doing this study on mice) noted benefits with prostate cancer. However, their clause was Intermittent fasting with compensatory overeating “did not improve mouse survival nor did it delay prostate tumor growth,” the study concluded (Collier, 2013). I note this because this is what happens when people aren’t fully aware of why they are doing something.
Gunnars, K. (2017) 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting from https://authoritynutrition.com/10-health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting/<
Collier, R. (2013). Intermittent fasting: the science of going without. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal, 185(9), E363–E364. http://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.109-4451
Barnosky, A., Hoddy, K., et all (2014) Intermittent fasting vs daily calorie restriction for type 2 diabetes prevention: a review of human findings Translational Research: The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine, October 2014 Volume 164, Issue 4, Pages 302–311. from http://www.translationalres.com/article/S1931-5244(14)00200-X/fulltext
Goodrick C, L, Ingram D, K, Reynolds M, A, Freeman J, R, Cider N, L, (2009) Effects of Intermittent Feeding Upon Growth and Life Span in Rats. Gerontology 1982;28:233-241 from http://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/212538#
Paleo Hacks (2016) Discussion board from https://www.paleohacks.com/fasting/dry-fasting-vs-water-fasting-22790
Santosa Detox & Wellness Center ( 2015) Fasting water-vs-Dry http://www.santosaphuket.com/fasting-water-vs-dry/