Fasting is an ancient healing method. Fasting unleashes the body’s own healing power with time and nothing to digest for a period of time. It provides the organ’s such as liver, kidneys and the lymph nodes to release waste. My previous blog on fasting provided information on the benefits of fasting and what to be cautious of. This blog is all about different types of fasting and some beneficial tips on how to successfully get into a fasting regime.
Types of Fasting
1. Dry Fasting
This type of fasting may seem extreme to some as it means to abstain from both food and water for certain periods of time. For centuries, dry fasting has been practiced for religious and spiritual purposes. This is known as being absolute fasting. An example of this would be Ramadan, where Muslims fast from dawn to sunset for a month. Dry fasting puts the cells into a stressful environment where the healthiest ones survive. In fact, a study on a group of people during Ramadan had significantly less pro-inflammatory cytokines, blood pressure, body weight, and fat percentage. In dry fasting, the body does not eliminate toxins through urine, bowel, and sweat or through elimination organs such as liver, kidneys, and skin. Instead, the toxins are burned inside of the cells. The body destroys or cleans our damaged cells and regenerates new cells. This is like the `survival of the fittest` as only the healthiest of the cells survives during dry fasting. Although the production of stem cells reduces in the body with age, with dry fasting stem cells are released into the blood more than usual. It has been said that cysts and benign tumors dissolve during dry fasting as the body eliminates its unhealthy cells for its own survival.
2. Liquid Fasting
Liquid fasting is when the body is given only liquids during the fast. One of the best ways to experience success is through fasting by only drinking water for a period of time. This is one of the oldest and simplest forms of fasting as it provides the most health benefits in a short period of time including, lowering blood pressure and balancing blood sugar. During a water fast, the process of autophagy occurs – an internal recycling program where old cells/debris/toxins are cleaned out through lysosomes. A water fast is done for about 24 hours up to 72 hours, with no food and only drinking water, about 2-3 liters per day. When completed, slowly introduce food in the form of smoothies and small meals, working your way up to larger meals. Water fasting can protect against cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart condition etc.
Today “Juice Cleanse” is a popular way to detox the body. Vegetable and fruit juices are prepared in mixes to create trendy juice cleanses. During juice fasting, the body is abstaining from solid foods and receiving a huge supply of micro nutrient support. Any type of fruit or vegetable juice can be consumed during this fast. During the time of juice fasting, the body’s digestive system gets a rest even though the body gets vitamins, minerals and antioxidant. Juice fasting can assist with weight loss, increased energy and enhancing mood.
3.Intermittent Fasting (IM):
This type of fasting alternates between periods of fasting and periods of eating. The fasting period is either 16:8 (16 hours fasting, including overnight, with 8 hours of eating), or 5:2 (fasting for 2 days, eating for 5 days). This type of fasting removes the body’s reliance on using carbohydrates for fuel and instead promotes the breakdown of fat for fuel. It also triggers changes in various hormones such as insulin and growth hormone. When you eat multiple meals a day, insulin is released each time to deal with blood sugar spikes. But when you go long periods of time without eating, such as intermittent fasting, this triggers fat burning instead. In terms of growth hormone, it is also involved in fat burning and muscle protection. Studies show that intermittent fasting can extend life expectancy, reduce inflammation and fat, and improving cognitive function.
Food restriction or fasting is known to upregulate autophagy in various organs including the liver. Autophagy, the method by which your body cleans out damaged cells and toxins, helps you regenerate newer, healthier cells. Autophagy is a defense mechanism against many things such as infections and neurodegenerative diseases, and studies show that autophagosome numbers are increased in cortical neurons after food restriction or fasting.
I will be writing more about Autophagy, its benefits and how to turn up the body’s autophagy state in my upcoming blog.
General Tips for Success
In order to combat the negative impact of fasting, one must prepare the body for fasting.
Here are some tips on how to prepare the body:
1. Start with a generally clean diet and eliminate junk food, sugar, white flour, canned foods, and cured meats.
2. Increase your intake of vegetables by eating a minimum of one cup with every meal.
3. Do not snack between meals. Drink water or herbal tea if desired.
4. Start with intermittent fasting.
5. Be aware of your food sensitivities or allergies and ensure to remove them for a week before starting your fast.
6. You must speak with your primary medical care practitioner if you are taking medicine, on a certain diet, or have a chronic health condition.
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Usefulness of routine periodic fasting to lower risk of coronary artery disease in patients undergoing coronary angiography. Horne BD, May HT, Anderson JL. The American journal of cardiology, 2008, Jul.;102(7):0002-9149.
Cardioprotective effect of intermittent fasting is associated with an elevation of adiponectin levels in rats. Wan R, Ahmet I, Brown M. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry, 2009, May.;21(5):1873-4847.
Late-onset intermittent fasting dietary restriction as a potential intervention to retard age-associated brain function impairments in male rats. Singh R, Lakhanpal D, Kumar S. Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 2011, Aug.;34(4):1574-4647.