Can you heal yourself? - The Secrets of fasting (part 2/2)
This article is the second in a series of two, giving you the following keys:
1. Whether or not you can heal yourself;
2. Reasons to believe in fasting;
3. A global understanding of your mind, body, and spirit;
4. Several ways of fasting;
The above was covered in last weeks’ article.
This week, you'll learn:
5. The link between healing and water fasting;
6. Mechanisms during fasting;
7. Essential facts and steps to follow if you're thinking about fasting;
8. Contra-indications for fasting.
"Instead of using medicine, rather, fast a day." - Plutarch
After considering the mind, which we covered in last weeks' article, the second most important key to health is the purification of the body and the most efficient way to do so is water fasting.
As previously mentioned fasting will cleanse the mind. The main lesson to take away is to always ask supervision of a qualified specialist before starting a water fast. The second piece of advice is to start with a detox or short period of fasting, before doing a water fast.
THE LINK BETWEEN HEALING AND WATER FASTING
Proven benefits of monitored (water)fasting, are:
- Saves time and money;
- Rehydration of the body, 50 to 70% of people are dehydrated;
- People who do monitored water fasting can lower medication;
- Decrease of blood pressure in case of hypertension;
- Increase of human growth hormone;
- Gaining mental clarity;
- Rebalances hormone levels;
- Development of the consciousness, awareness;
- Beneficial in case of diarrhoea, constipation and leaky gut syndrome;
- Decrease of the enzyme PKA which has a positive effect on aging;
- Heals all digestive dysfunctions as a result of the rest the digestive system finally has during the fast;
- Mechanisms associated with fasting: in case of excess weight, there will be weight loss; detoxification of excess sodium, heavy metals, PCB's, pesticides, chemicals;
- The metabolic rate can be up to 10 times higher after 4 days of fasting;
- Fasting rebalances the autonomic nervous system: the part of the nervous system responsible for control of the bodily functions not consciously directed, such as breathing, the heartbeat, and digestive processes.
MECHANISMS DURING FASTING
Ph.D. Valter Longo made an intensive study on fasting. He states that an averagely built individual can go up to 60 days of water fasting, which can even mount up to 6 months for certain types of people, depending on their body type. His studies prove that IGF 1, which is associated with cancer and aging, is reduced after prolonged periods of fasting, that blood glucose and CRP levels in pre-diabetics, both risk factors for cardiovascular disease, drop.
One of the first effects is the change of taste caused by an adaptation of neurons in the brain. Basically, new pathways, new links are created in your brain.
For example: when someone doesn't like the taste of fruits and vegetables this is due to their addiction/conditioning to chemicals, oils, salt, refined sugars and hydrogenated fats that are highly used in all processed foods. After long fasts neurons in the brain will be reprogrammed which results in the revival of taste buds. The individual will be able to enjoy the true taste of natural foods again while disliking the unnatural taste of processed foods.
Fasting puts a certain stress on the brain to which it will respond by activating "adaptive stress response pathways". In doing so, the brain can cope better with stress and can resist disease more efficiently.
The former was proven in mice-studies, where one sees that fasting protects neurons when it comes to preventing Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease. It even has a reverse effect and improved the mice's abilities to learn, enhancing their memory.
Fasting -as well as exercise- increases the production of a protein in the brain, the neurotrophic factor, which in his turn promotes the growth and connection of neurons and strengthens the synapses. In other words: it helps to make way for new links in the brain, which will result in new behavior. One of the results of this process is an increase in numbers of mitochondria in nerve cells which will, in turn, produce more energy. Having more energy in the nerve cells will improve their ability to repair DNA. This all means that the nerve cells are empowered to improve the healing process.
When someone goes without food for 8 to 12 hours, this is generally accepted as fasting. As we will see later, this corresponds with glycogen depletion. Like all animals, the human body was build to fast for long periods. Mainly because before the invention of the fridge and the birth of a consumption-based society, humans always experienced periods of scarcity.
Secondly, similarly to animals who instinctively fast when they are sick, the human body possesses an inner healing mechanism. Whenever the body goes without food for more than 12 hours, a myriad of operations will take place in the body.
This ability occurs only when we fast because when we eat 30 to 45% of the energy consumed by the body is used for digestion alone. Next, we strain our bodies to the extent that there is no energy left for these other, healing processes to take place.
Proof of how tremendously strong our body's regenerating capacity is, is that after only three days of fasting, the body will have regenerated its entire immune system. Fasting breaks down white blood cells, which can be perceived as a problem, though, when the body eliminates white blood cells, it starts the process of building new ones. These new ones will not only be higher in number but also much stronger than the eliminated ones.
During longer fasts, the body is forced to use stored glucose and fats. Our glycogen storage in the liver is good for 8 to 12 hours of energy. It is merely there for local used and is no source for long term energy. Therefore, not eating for more than 12 to 16 hours is the best way to deplete glycogen storage, burn fat and produce ketone bodies.
What about symptoms of disease? The following symptoms occur often when fasting: low blood pressure, dizziness, an overall drop of body temperature, lower energy, detox reactions/results e.g. headaches, a foul breath, distinct body odor, and urine are common during the first few days of fasting.
ESSENTIAL FACTS & STEPS TO FOLLOW IF YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT FASTING
When fasting, the body gets the possibility to eliminate large amounts of toxins so it is paramount to prepare for this detoxification.
Prior to any fast, whether you're doing a short (24 hours) or longer one (starting from one week), you should start detoxifying by drinking juices and smoothies for at least two days.
Even after the fast, during the refeeding phase, the body will continue to cleanse which is why this is extremely important. During this phase, you will eat only small amounts of food that consist mostly out of water. Fruit, like watermelon or papaya, is ideal.
CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR FASTING
Malnourished or underweight people, children, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid fasting. People on any type of medication, whether this is a physical or mental condition, have to be very careful and need to consult their physician before attempting to fast. The same goes for diabetics: being really careful is paramount.
Always seeks your physician's advice before fasting and never attempt an unmonitored fast.
After reading this second, more scientific based, part you have gained knowledge of how healing fasting can be, what mechanisms take place during fasting, important facts to consider when you want to try it, and when it is not appropriate to start a fast.
Putting this together with last weeks’ conclusion that fasting will ignite the existing, inner flame of mindfulness, proves what a beneficial, powerful, and holistic method it is; which explains why it has been practiced in different religions and cultures all around the world for as long as we can remember.
If you enjoyed this blog, sign-up for our newsletter to receive future updates.
- Dr. Alan Goldhamer’s talk at San Francisco’s Vegetarian Society's 16th annual World Veg Festival event, Oct 4, 2015: Fasting can save your life
- Prolonged Fasting reduces IGF-1/PKA to promote hematopoietic stem cell-based regeneration and reverse immunosuppression, Valter D. Longo et al., Cell Stem Cell: Vol 14, Issue 6, June 05, 2014
- Fasting: molecular mechanisms and clinical applications, Valter D. Longo and Mark P. Mattson, Cell Metabolism, 2014 Feb 4;19(2):181-92
- Water Fasting—The Clinical Effectiveness of Rebooting Your Body, Dr. Alan Goldhamer, Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014 Jun;13(3):52-7
- US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health
Frederic Deltour was born March 30, 1982, in France. He grew up in the suburbs of Paris and spent his childhood on the judo mat. He won many competitions in his youth before becoming a model, actor, and stuntman.
He created and managed 3 companies specializing in natural products and renewable energies, and also worked as a life coach.
Frederic followed a spiritual path for many years, after which he taught Yoga and Tai-Chi.
He has traveled in over 40 countries, climbed several mountains in the Himalayas and the Andes, studied for months with a shaman in Peru, practiced with a yogi in the mountains of India, and lived in a Buddhist monastery for several months.
After traveling for over five years, Frederic is now sharing his experiences in his books and
lectures, all while he continues to explore the world.