by Gloria Moreira
By now you have probably heard of the health benefits of fasting. Fasting has existed since the beginning of time, either because of famine or for healing and spiritual purposes. We live in a time where food is abundant. At least in our society, the diseases we see are those of excess rather than not enough food.
Fasting has tremendous healing and restorative benefits that have been neglected and forgotten. Fasting is something we must intentionally plan in order to get these restorative and healing benefits. This is a healing lifestyle which can be planned around periods of intentional fasting where we go without food for some time.
There are different ways to fast. First, let’s look at intermittent fasting, also called time-restricted feeding. This is a practice of eating food only within a certain window of time daily. A popular and also good way to start fasting is to only eat within a period of eight hours a day and fast for 16. So, for example, this would mean eating all your meals between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. or 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. You consume only water and non-caloric beverages outside of these times. Extended fasting, on the other hand, is anything over 48 hours with no food at all—just water and non-caloric beverages. It is common for people to do up to seven-day fasts for health reasons and healing.
There are some fasts that involve bone broth, a liquid nutrition fast or a fasting mimicking diet (FMD). When you consume less than one-quarter of the calories your body needs each day, it is considered a fast. For most people, this means consuming 300 to 500 calories a day. You will get most of the benefits of fasting by doing this. An FMD has been shown by research to provide all the benefits of fasting while eating between 600 to 800 calories daily. There are tremendous health breakthroughs as documented in 20 years of research for this type of fasting. This fasting is somewhat easier to do as it does allow food.
Ten health benefits of fasting backed by science:
- Promotes blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance
- Promotes better health by fighting inflammation
- May enhance heart health by improving blood pressure
- May boost brain function and prevent neurodegenerative disorders
- Aids weight loss by limiting calorie intake and boosting metabolism
- Increases growth hormone secretion which is vital for growth, metabolism, weight loss and muscle strength
- Could delay aging and extend longevity
- May aid in cancer prevention and increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy
- Takes stress off the digestive system
- Improves energy levels
The reason fasting is so beneficial to healing has to do with how your metabolism transforms during the process. Your cells switch from burning glucose (a dirty-burning fuel with lactic acid as a byproduct) to burning ketones. Ketones are an alternative fuel source for which we were perfectly designed—they burn clean and are very efficient. Furthermore, cancer cells cannot use ketones as fuel; they can only use glucose, making fasting a very effective way to both prevent cancer and increase the effectiveness of any cancer treatment.
Once you start burning ketones as fuel, you become “ketogenic”. This ketogenic state is beneficial and has been scientifically shown to prevent and improve many neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
A great way to start learning the lifestyle is by doing an intermittent fast and then working your way up. It is advised that you do this under the care of a healthcare practitioner familiar with fasting for healing.
Gloria Moreira, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac., ABAAHP holds a master’s degree in Metabolic Nutrition and Regenerative Medicine, from USF Morsani School of Medicine. She practices at Pembroke Holistic Center, 1806 N. Flamingo Rd., Ste. 105, Pembroke Pines. For more information, call 954-501-2208 and/or visit PembrokeHolistic.com.