In the 15 years I've been in practice, the most common thing I've been asked is - "What is the one thing I can do to fix (insert health condition)"
The reality is there's never just one thing you need to do to get healthy - but intermittent and extended fasting comes pretty close.
There are 1000’s of studies on intermittent fasting and most of them look similar to each other. What they do is they give the same exact food to two different groups. One group can eat the food whenever they want, and the other group can only eat the food during a small window (6 hours all the way up to 12 hours). And then weeks later they see what is different.
What has been discovered is that our health gets better when we eat less often, even if we don’t change what we eat. Energy, weight loss, mood, blood pressure, brain function and even diabetes have all been shown to improve with intermittent fasting.
In nature it’s called the circadian rhythm or the feast-famine cycle. In our modern world we don’t go through the feast and famine cycle anymore. We feast, almost constantly, and there are unfortunate consequences as a result.
I, like a lot of people, have seen this with the plants in the house. I’m one of those people who think a plant should be watered just as much as I eat. As a result, I've killed a lot of plants. But when I ignore the plants, and water them infrequently, they thrive.
The truth is, your body longs to go without at periods of time. Your body longs to be in this natural rhythm.
We all try to micromanage out health by eating the right food, or taking the right supplements. But our body was created with an innate intelligence. It wants to thrive! But every time we put something in our mouth, we push it in a direction that WE want it to go and it is unable to do what it needs to do.
Here are some of the ways our bodies will thrive during a fast, if we can just get out of the way.
Your body can only use sugar or fat as a fuel source. Burning sugar is like burning a wood stove; messy. Burning fat as fuel is much cleaner; like using natural gas. As you restrict calories for short periods of time, we see this increase in your bodies ability to burn fat. When your body switches over to burning fat as fuel, it produces ketones. Besides a reduction in inflammation within the body (the known cause of all chronic disease), research studies are proving that ketones supercharge the brain, shrink cancer tumors, repair the microbiome and speed up weight loss.
If you’ve never heard of this word you need to start looking it up and researching it. It is one of the most phenomenal processes that we have learned about in the past decade. Put simply, autophagy is when your body uses injured or damaged cellular debris as a fuel source. Examples might be auto immune cells, cancer cells or heart disease cells. When your body is looking for fuel it knows to use these damaged cells as a source of fuel.
As your body starts to use these injured/damaged cells as fuel, your body creates newer, younger, healthier cells to replace them. These are called stem cells. The production of stem cells are why so many people have experienced healing why fasting, including old injuries that never healed correctly.
Use it or lose it. This is not only true for muscles, but for the gut microbiome as well. When you don’t use your gut, the bacteria and microbiome actually shrink and go away. This is one of the quickest ways to balance and reset the gut naturally. The bad bacteria aren’t able to overcome this fasted state and don’t come back whereas the good bacteria are able to withstand the fast and flourish as a result.
Digesting food takes a lot of energy. When you’re in a fasted state your body has all of this energy to do other things besides digest food. It uses this energy to heal old injuries and wounds that never fully healed the first time. When I walk people through extended fasts, they frequently get symptoms that they haven’t felt for years or decades because their body is finally getting to those old injuries and healing the correct way.
There are several more amazing benefits to fasting, but I think the most importing thing to understand is that our bodies were made to be transformed through fasting. It’s not always easy to fast, but through tension and struggle, we are able to heal, grow and thrive.
Beginning on March 5th, I will be leading our Metabolic Reboot community through a 30 day free experience of intermittent fasting & diet variation as I prepare for my annual 5 day water fast April 5-10.
If you have a chronic health condition that plagues you, difficulty losing weight despite diet and exercise, hormone imbalance, energy & memory issues, or just want to live a longer healthier life, integrating intermittent & extended fasting into a healthy lifestyle is a habit you should consider. Join the Facebook community & get all my resources to help you integrate this healthy habit.