Fasting is healing
"Fasting is a natural method of healing. When animals ... are sick, they fast."
Fasting is not unfamiliar or a modern-day fad – it goes back to biblical times.
Think these days of Ramadan - the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, when Muslims fast during daylight hours.
We each fast every day between going to bed and breaking the fast!
One amazing benefit of fasting is the vast array of physical conditions that show improvement; it affects us holistically, meaning all aspects of our being are affected. Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual changes can be felt within during a fast. A sort of rebalancing takes place. Places where we have gotten "out of kilter" begin to re-align and re-balance when we take away the over-stimulation of over-eating.
Fasting has often been called the "miracle cure" because the list of physical conditions improved by fasting is long and varied. Cited most often are allergies, arthritis, diabetes, digestive disorders of all kinds, skin conditions, cardiovascular disease, and asthma. But because fasting initiates the body's own healing mechanisms, any ailment may show improvement.
In short, fasting can have a hugely beneficial influence on your health.
Dr. Jason Fung, a nephrologist (kidney specialist) with a practice in
Canada, has written an important landmark book on this topic…
“The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through
Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting,” co-authored
with Jimmy Moore. Fung’s book provides easy-to-follow guidelines
for fasting, and reviews some of the most common myths and fears
that keep many from implementing a fasting regimen.
Fasting helps reverse diabetes — and related health conditions.
As someone diagnosed with diabetes tyupe 2 some twenty years ago,
I am ever more convinced that conventional treatment for type 2
diabetes is seriously flawed. Despite taking my prescribed meds and
insulin and following so-called NHS dietary guidelines it was clear
that I was simply engaged in symptom management, managing a path towards decline. Where would it end? Doctors and nurses with messages of doom and outdated modalities, talked of complications such as kidney disease, requiring dialysis, or amputations, or blindness.
Wherever I looked, convention said type 2 diabetes was a chronic, progressive disease … it only marched relentlessly forward. But the more I explored alternative and complimentary approaches to diabetes, I discovered type 2 diabetes isn’t like that at all … it is possible to reverse and if you want to get rid of the type 2 diabetes, you have to get rid of the obesity … and even there conventional treatment is flawed. I was told, simplistically, to be trim all I had to do was eat less and walk more. But what the hades does that mean? Eat less what? The NHS had me off down the route of counting carbs and calories and working out. But I was never good at maths and a secondary school twice-weekly experience of a sadistic PE teacher, made me abhor the gym.
And when I researched how much and what type of exercise I’d need to do to undo the calories consumed in a Mars Bar, it was obvious doctors had no clue what they were talking about and that most people simply do not have the time, let alone the inclination, to do the amount of exercise needed. And it’s certainly not about counting calories. As you cut your calorie intake, your calorie expenditure goes down as well.
It’s really about the hormonal balance and predominantly about insulin. We have to reduce insulin. Eating low-carbohydrate foods are a way to lower insulin … In some people, that’ll reverse their diabetes …
There’s no serious side effects or consequences to fasting. Though clearly if you are the right weight for you and in constant good health, then fasting is not essential.
Fasting – the benefits
Fung reports that he has been able to take many patients off all medications; they’re losing weight, they’re seeing that the number and frequency of medications are reducing, their sugars are going down, they report increased energy, and their diabetes is reversed. And isn’t that why doctors go into medicine? To make people healthier – not just to have people manage their symptoms and watch their health deteriorate?
The ‘Starvation Mode’ Myth
Many believe they cannot or should not fast because it will send their body into “starvation mode” — a situation where the body starts holding on to fat rather than burning it off.
If you’re overweight and tired, fasting helps unlock all the stored energy in your body and forces your body to start accessing those stores of energy, and once that happens, your body suddenly has a near unlimited supply of energy!
It’s not just simply about turning on an enzyme switch to
burn off fat; a very complex process is happening within your
body that heads in the direction of health. If you really need to
the medical terms and processes, Dr Fung’s book will fill in the
gaps or watch him in this brief video.
Insulin is the primary hormone that tells your body whether
to store energy or burn it. When you eat, you take in calories in
and insulin goes up. When insulin goes up it signals your body
to store energy. When insulin falls, it tells your body to release
energy. When you develop insulin resistance, something I have
yet to be told about by any medical professional in over twenty
years of a diabetes diagnosis, your insulin levels remain chronically elevated, hence your body is in constant fat-storing mode. Hence tummy belly and obesity and feeling tired and sluggish. You have plenty of fuel available, but it’s all “locked away” in your fat cells, and it will remain unavailable until your body receives the appropriate signal — a drop in insulin. This is also why it’s so difficult to lose weight when you are insulin resistant. So much for my doctor’s theory that it is about simply eating less and walking more. That advice is as dangerous as it is negligent.
The key to this constant fat storing is to have sustained low insulin over periods of time. Enter fasting. It is hugely beneficial – and simple. Fasting lowers insulin and allows the stored energy (body fat) to be used. With fasting, surprisingly to many, you don’t feel so hungry. But then you have all the (fat) energy supplies you need, simply they are no longer locked away.
Fasting involves long periods where you’re not eating. And we each already fast! Consider the word “breakfast” in English. That’s break (the) fast. Breakfast is the meal that breaks your fast and you can break your fast at any time of the day, not just when you awake and not just once a day. You can eat two days later.
Balance your periods of feeding and fasting, you will stay in balance.
How to fast
Dr Fung talks of different ways to fast:
Water fasting. You don’t eat; you only drink water, for several days in a row
(typically no less than 24 hours).
Water plus including other non-caloric beverages, such as herbal tea and coffee
(without milk, sugar or other sweetener, including artificial non-caloric sweeteners).
Bone broth. See recipe under recipes page. Useful whilst on longer fasts though
technically bone broth also contains lots of protein, so it’s not really a true fast.
Fat fasting. This may get buttery! It is where you allow healthy fats during the
fast in addition to water and/or non-caloric beverages. Add a knob of butter,
coconut oil or MCT oil to black coffee or black tea. Adding healthy fats such
as butter, coconut oil, and avocado can make fasting a lot easier.
Stay below 10 to 20 grams of protein per day. Remember, protein raises your
insulin, although not to the same degree as net carbs do.
Allow time for the body to adjust. If you have never fasted and you do a three-day fast, you may feel pretty yuck. Either continue and work through the fast or take a break and let your body adapt.
Be aware of feeling hungry on day two of a fast. Plan to be out and about and busy to distract.
Contraindications – when not to fast
If you are underweight, with a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 or less.
If you are already malnourished (in which case you need healthier, more nutritious food to build you up).
If you are a child - children should not fast for longer than 24 hours, as they need nutrients for continued growth. Instead of fasting cut out refined sugars and grains.
If you are pregnant and/or breastfeeding. You need a steady supply of nutrients in order to assure the baby’s healthy growth and development.
Some medications do need to be taken with food. Check if this applies to yours. (But don’t expect your doctor to automatically applaud you for doing a fast!) This includes metformin, aspirin and any other drugs that might cause stomach upset or stomach ulcers.
Monitor carefully your blood sugar levels. If you take the same dose of medication but don’t eat, you run the risk of having very low blood sugars (hypoglycaemia), which can be dangerous.
As a diabetic, adjust your medication dosage before you fast.
Watch out for signs of hypoglycaemia – shakes, weakness, and take remedial action.
If you develop gout – indicative of high uric acid – consult your doctor.
Fasting for 16 hours as a minimum is recommended. For most, this means giving up on breakfast and therefore can be done daily.
Or if you believe breakfast to be essential, then aim for your last meal around 6pm
Some fast for 2 -3 days at a time – your body will get its energy from its current fat stores.
Avoid eating late at night – say after 9pm or avoid food for a minimum of three hours before your bedtime.
Take your main meal around lunchtime.
And remember – give your body time (up to two weeks) to adjust.
In discusssion with Dr J Mercola
Dr Eric Berg
The light of the world will illuminate within you when you fast
and purify yourself.