While the holiday season is usually one for overindulgence, I managed to fit in a three-day water fast in between festivities, which I completed yesterday. It was my second three-day water fast this year, but prior to this, I haven’t done extended fasts like this for about twenty years. Sure, I do regular 24-hour fasts, but I had decided that it was too hard to do any more while preparing daily meals for my family, but now I realise that the benefits far out way the hardship (plus I’m thankful my husband helps with mealtimes while I’m fasting). It may seem extreme, and it is, but there are so many reasons why fasting is beneficial to the body.
When I started fasting and cleansing diets aged nineteen, those around me thought I was crazy, and understandably, because there was no real science back then like there is now. There are so many studies published on the benefits of fasting recently, that we cannot ignore the scientific evidence. Plus, it is FREE to do, no cost for fasting on water!
If you think about it, it’s not natural for animals to be eating year-round (yes, we are animals). Think back to a time when living off the land or in the wild where food is dependent on the season, and there would be a scarcity of food. Our bodies are not designed to continuously eat all food types from all regions of the world 24 hours a day.
Benefits of fasting
- The most obvious is the digestive system gets a break from working. During this time, the body is able to focus its energy on other necessary clean-up jobs in the body. It allows time for healing, where the body is able to reset and achieve homeostasis.
- Autophagy occurs, which is where damaged cells are broken down, recycled, and remodelled. This occurs where it is needed, so fasting can help the heart, brain, liver, skin, etc. This also means fasting is a potential therapeutic means for diseases like cancers, metabolic conditions, neurodegenerative diseases, and infectious diseases for example.
- Fasting increases growth hormone secretion which is vital for growth, metabolism, correcting weight, and improving muscle strength.
- Improves your immune system. Again with autophagy, this process resets the immune system.
- Fasting slows aging and increases longevity. This is well studied along with a restricted dietary intake.
- Protects muscle mass. Rest assured that you won’t lose muscle mass because your body protects muscle when in ketosis (which occurs during fasting), and uses up unnecessary fat storage instead.
How to fast
A 24 hour fast. Have your dinner at regular time, then only water until dinner the next day. This is a good start for your body to get used to abstaining from food. I remember my first 24 hour fast was sooo hard because I had never missed a meal. In fact, as a personal trainer and always preparing for a bodybuilding competition, I was having 6 high protein meals a day. So, I was always eating. After the first failed attempt, I was able to complete 24 hours on water, and it became easier each time.
Mindset: be clear
that you are doing something positive for yourself,
and allow time for rest. I made sure that I didn’t have any work or big jobs to
do over the three days, so I could hang out and rest when I felt the need. Having
someone support you to talk to, or reading articles like this also helps to
How to break a fast
Again, mindset is important and listening to your body. Bone broth is perfect to re-introduce to the digestive system after a prolonged fast because it is warm and full of healing nutrients, and I always have some on hand in the freezer. As for actual food to chew, I was fortunate that my son found some ripe apricots from the apricot tree in the backyard (had to compete with the birds for), so fresh fruit or vegetables in season are perfect to break a fast. My first actual meal was a bowl of rocket and avocado with olive oil and a drop of apple cider vinegar, chewed well. Delicious.
Is Fasting For me?
Long term fasting is not for everyone, so please make your own choice. The important thing here is that the body has a break from foods that can cause any possible inflammation. I have seen great results with other limited diet plans along with intermittent fasting. It’s your body, so it’s your choice.
Fasting and neurology https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3106288/
cancer therapy https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30540126
lysosomes are central https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30215867
food restriction/ fasting & aging https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30172870
autophagy and immune system https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30531943