“Therapeutic fasting is not a mystical or magical cure. It works because the body has within it the capacity to heal when the obstacles to healing are removed. Health is the normal state. Most chronic disease is the inevitable consequence of living a life-style that places disease-causing stressors on the human organism. Fasting gives the body an interlude without those stressors so that it can speedily repair or accomplish healing that could not otherwise occur in the feeding state.”
~ Joel Fuhrman
Disease arises in the absence of health. Anyone who is living a strong, vital life (physically, mentally and spiritually), does not need to worry about getting sick. Why? The higher your vitality level, the lower your chances are for getting sick. Think of vitality as an armor against disease.
What is your vitality level? Your vitality level is a measure or report card of your accumulated daily thoughts, feelings and actions (over days, weeks months and years). The good news about this truth is that you are in control. At any given moment, you can start thinking, feeling and acting in a way that supports and builds your vitality. If you are sick or unwell, you have the power to aid your body’s natural healing capabilities.
Fasting is just one of the ways you can help your body heal and build vitality. This may be difficult for many people to believe. Having no food for long periods of time is commonly viewed as a negative thing in most cultures. It couldn’t be any more apparent in the Italian culture I was raised in. If I skip a meal, I am treated like I am in a state of starvation. It is almost as bad as sinning.
Fasting and starvation however should not be synonymous. The difference is, you are choosing not to eat in order to give your digestive system a break. This is a healthy choice coming from a healthy mindset. The mindset really is the key difference. If someone were purposely starving themselves because of anorexia then this is an example of an unhealthy mindset and the outcome would be disastrous. I believe this is where some fear of fasting and the negative stigma arises.
However, our bodies are designed to go long periods of time without food. If they weren’t, we would never have evolved to where we are today. Early humans went several days without food and yet, they had the strength and energy to hunt and deal with harsh environmental conditions. How? Where did they get their energy from if they were not eating?
You have two energy or fuel reserves. Glucose (from carbohydrates) is stored as glycogen in our muscles and liver and secondly, ketones which are stored in our body fat. Once you deplete your glycogen stores, your body turns to other sources for fuel. Either it converts non-carbohydrate sources (such as protein) to glucose (through a process known as gluconeogenesis) or it taps into your fat stores and uses ketones for energy. Ideally, you would want to be fat adapted so that your body burns fat instead of muscle (muscle is broken down for protein to be converted into glucose for fuel if ketones are not being accessed). If you are not fat adapted, it can have negative consequences.
Yes, you will lose weight, but a lot of it will be vital muscle (you should be tracking your ‘Body Composition’ in order to know whether you’re losing body fat or muscle). People who fast excessively (or do it incorrectly such as having a diseased mindset), will become emaciated, weak and frail. They are actually in an unhealthy, catabolic state where they are slowly starving themselves to death and sometimes do. As a result of this horrible state, a fear of fasting has developed and spread worldwide over the years. However, just because fasting in its extreme leads to sickness and death does not mean it should not be considered and implemented at all.
Often, people are eating foods that are irritating their digestive system. Over time, your digestive system can become inflamed and this can lead to all sorts of symptoms such as headaches, constant bloating, constipation/diarrhea, joint inflammation/pain, skin disorders and much more. Giving your digestive system a break from time to time can help you heal these unresolved issues. Another important factor is that this practice can help build your food awareness. If you fast for a day or two and then reintroduce foods slowly or one at a time then you can more easily determine which foods are the cause of your digestive problems.
The key is to implement fasting properly so that we can experience the many benefits and avoid any negative effects. Just like with anything you try that’s new; you should always begin slowly. I recommend starting with no more than 24-48 hour fasts or daily ‘Intermittent Fasting’. For many people, implementing intermittent fasting (IF) properly is enough for them to notice some health benefits and feel good. Remember, your body uses a lot of energy to digest and assimilate food so even giving it a small break means it can use the extra energy in other systems for processes such as healing and repair.
Your V10 Health Coach,
P.S. If you are interested, I also make a coaching video for each of these posts on YouTube. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel so you do not miss out on any of the valuable content I share. Here is the link for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFA86bpT_2k