The Health Benefits of Fasting

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Biology 103
2002 First Paper
On Serendip

The Health Benefits of Fasting

Will Carroll

There has been much contention in the scientific field about whether or not fasting is beneficial to one's health. Fasting is an integral part of many of the major religions including Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Many are dubious as to whether the physiological effects are as beneficial as the spiritual promoted by these religions. There is a significant community of alternative healers who believe that fasting can do wonders for the human body. This paper will look at the arguments presented by these healers in an attempt to raise awareness of the possible physiological benefits that may result from fasting.

Fasting technically commences within the first twelve to twenty-four hours of the fast. A fast does not chemically begin until the carbohydrate stores in the body begin to be used as an energy source. The fast will continue as long as fat and carbohydrate stores are used for energy, as opposed to protein stores. Once protein stores begin to be depleted for energy (resulting in loss of muscle mass) a person is technically starving. (1)

The benefits of fasting must be preceded by a look at the body's progression when deprived of food. Due to the lack of incoming energy, the body must turn to its own resources, a function called autolysis. (2) Autolysis is the breaking down of fat stores in the body in order to produce energy. The liver is in charge of converting the fats into a chemical called a ketone body, "the metabolic substances acetoacetic acid and beta-hydroxybutyric acid" (3), and then distributing these bodies throughout the body via the blood stream. "When this fat utilization occurs, free fatty acids are released into the blood stream and are used by the liver for energy." (3) The less one eats, the more the body turns to these stored fats and creates these ketone bodies, the accumulation of which is referred to as ketosis. (4)

Detoxification is the foremost argument presented by advocates of fasting. "Detoxification is a normal body process of eliminating or neutralizing toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph glands, and skin." (5). This process is precipitated by fasting because when food is no longer entering the body, the body turns to fat reserves for energy. "Human fat is valued at 3,500 calories per pound," a number that would lead one to believe that surviving on one pound of fat every day would provide a body with enough energy to function normally. (2) These fat reserves were created when excess glucose and carbohydrates were not used for energy or growth, not excreted, and therefore converted into fat. When the fat reserves are used for energy during a fast, it releases the chemicals from the fatty acids into the system which are then eliminated through the aforementioned organs. Chemicals not found in food but absorbed from one's environment, such as DDT, are also stored in fat reserves that may be released during a fast. One fasting advocate tested his own urine, feces and sweat during an extended fast and found traces of DDT in each. (5)

A second prescribed benefit of fasting is the healing process that begins in the body during a fast. During a fast energy is diverted away from the digestive system due to its lack of use and towards the metabolism and immune system. (6) The healing process during a fast is precipitated by the body's search for energy sources. Abnormal growths within the body, tumors and the like, do not have the full support of the body's supplies and therefore are more susceptible to autolysis. Furthermore, "production of protein for replacement of damaged cells (protein synthesis) occurs more efficiently because fewer 'mistakes' are made by the DNA/RNA genetic controls which govern this process." A higher efficiency in protein synthesis results in healthier cells, tissues and organs. (7) This is one reason that animals stop eating when they are wounded, and why humans lose hunger during influenza. Hunger has been proven absent in illnesses such as gastritis, tonsillitis and colds. (2) Therefore, when one is fasting, the person is consciously diverting energy from the digestive system to the immune system.

In addition, there is a reduction in core body temperature. This is a direct result of the slower metabolic rate and general bodily functions. Following a drop in blood sugar level and using the reserves of glucose found in liver glycogen, the basal metabolic rate (BMR) is reduced in order to conserve as much energy within the body as can be provided. (2) Growth hormones are also released during a fast, due to the greater efficiency in hormone production. (7)

Finally, the most scientifically proven advantage to fasting is the feeling of rejuvenation and extended life expectancy. Part of this phenomenon is caused by a number of the benefits mentioned above. A slower metabolic rate, more efficient protein production, an improved immune system, and the increased production of hormones contributes to this long-term benefit of fasting. In addition to the Human Growth Hormone that is released more frequently during a fast, an anti-aging hormone is also produced more efficiently. (7) "The only reliable way to extend the lifespan of a mammal is under-nutrition without malnutrition." (5) A study was performed on earthworms that demonstrated the extension of life due to fasting. The experiment was performed in the 1930s by isolating one worm and putting it on a cycle of fasting and feeding. The isolated worm outlasted its relatives by 19 generations, while still maintaining its youthful physiological traits. The worm was able to survive on its own tissue for months. Once the size of the worm began to decrease, the scientists would resume feeding it at which point it showed great vigor and energy. "The life-span extension of these worms was the equivalent of keeping a man alive for 600 to 700 years." (8)

In conclusion, it seems that there are many reasons to consider fasting as a benefit to one's health. The body rids itself of the toxins that have built up in our fat stores throughout the years. The body heals itself, repairs all the damaged organs during a fast. And finally there is good evidence to show that regulated fasting contributes to longer life. However, many doctors warn against fasting for extended periods of time without supervision. There are still many doctors today who deny all of these points and claim that fasting is detrimental to one's health and have evidence to back their statements. The idea of depriving a body of what society has come to view as so essential to our survival in order to heal continues to be a topic of controversy.

 

References

1)"Dr. Sniadach – True Health Freedom 3

2)fastingforbetterhealth

3)"Ketosis by Sue Reith"

4)"Nutriquest, March 11th, 2000 – Ketosis and Low Carbohydrate Diets"

5)"WebMD – Detox Diets: Cleansing the Body"

6)"Fasting"

7)"Fasting – Good Morning Doctor"

8)"The health Benefits of Fasting"

 

 

Comments made prior to 2007

Great essay. Do you have one good referrence on how to stage a fast? I am looking for a safe way to stage a fast in my home. Does it require special teas or anything outside of water? ... Elie, 30 September 2005

 

 

The term for the breaking down of fat is lipolysis, not autolysis. Autolysis is the self-destruction of cells ... Paul, 3 April 2007

Comments

Jake's picture

Impressive Fasting

I have heard a few pieces of the benefits of fasting, but nothing like this. I had fasted recently and it was not pleasant to say the least. It does sound good, but it can also be painful. For the past 8-10 years, I have basically eaten once a day but I think that hurts me because I am starving in the evening and I really do eat a lot. I think that it would be healthier for me, in terms of weight, if I eat twice a day. On the other hand though, I wonder that since I am eating once a day, if it resembles to some extent a fast. Would anybody out there know if what I am doing healthy for me in the long run?

servantking's picture

fasting

In a world that is spiritually and morally insensetive to our toxic world and thinking
fasting is the only way i think to go. of all the teachings of Christ he was a big proponant of fastinwhen you think of genetically modified food, chemtrails,toxins in our drinking water depleated soil, possiable health care rationing, we have no other option but to utilize the ancient method though the medical community would disscourage us for there own benifit i believe God have given us all that ew need to beat the odds against us.

ross blaising's picture

diet

How long was your recent 'painful' fast and what were the parameters? I am currently 7 days into my first 20-day fast. I have previously done 8-10 5-day fasts as either water only or juice fasts. Because of the extended duration of this one, I chose a yogurt fast. For it, I have (3) 170 calorie yogurts each day, a multi-vitamin and coffee or water. I know that some will poo-poo this as not a 'true' fast, but my goal has been weight-loss and testing mental endurance. So far it has been great, but I did crave some calamari last night when I was out to dinner with friends.

As to your question of diet. People are going to tell you a million differnet things, so what I have found works best for me are two different regiments:

The first is to somewhat mimick body builders diets by having about 6 small meals each day and then no food after 8PM. Each of the meals runs about 200 calories (every 2 hours)until dinner, and then 500 - 700 calories. I eat anything that I want (unlike the body builder who would eat high amounts of protein). I do this during the week and then on weekends, eat whatever I want.

The second, which I do during cycling season, is to again break my habits down to weekday vs. weekend. During the week I limit my calories to 1,300 on days that I dont ride and 1,900 on days that I do ride, and then on the weekends I eat what ever I want (which includes all kinds of junk).

In both cases, I have found that just a little bit of regimentation, keeps me mentally focused, in shape, I rarely get sick, never have gastro issues, etc. Of course both diets take a little getting used to, but once I'm in full swing, it's super easy.

RRB

steve's picture

Fasting may not be the answer I first thought it to be.

I did the fasting thing, felt better for sure. But now it seems with a bit more education behind it, that fasting is not the answer. As that was just a way to allow the body to clean a bit. But the answer is in not eating meat, going vegan is a term many call it. There is so much one can eat that is not meat, that includes sugar and sweets as well, but dont over do them. Seems meat has a habit of causing toxins in the body and intestines, and thats all I will say about it. Eat what you like I say,,even if its meat, Im just not going to eat it lol.

Madhumati's picture

fasting

So Steve, do u think eaitng more veggie soups and fruit juices are better ?

steve's picture

hmm

I think eating anything other then meat, is better. And most who have tried just that know the same. Frankly I miss meat, it tasted great and still smells great. But if my choice is the way I felt before and the health I had before with the meat, or how I feel now and the health I have now without it, Ill choose now and just do without it and feel better. Thats my choice, everyone else can eat whatever they like as far as Im concerned, I dont care, I just feel better and like it lol.

Daniel's picture

Fasting is a way to show that

Fasting is a way to show that food is not the only that matter, but we can also starve of God. It's really a good thing when done wisely...

Anonymous's picture

About the fasting experience.

I am all in all new to fasting. but in only two days of fasting I went from several years worth of feeling half dead to actually feeling alive and younger again. I may have a vein a bit clogged being the cause of the half dead feeling Ive had for so long and I have my reasons for thinking that. As I said for years I went through this, no energy, little overall strength and things far worse Ill not mention. But in only two days of fasting, with mostly water and no food, and the occasional sweet coffee, which may not be the best thing for a fast, I feel alive again. So I think fasting may clean the veins, to what extent I dont know, but even a little cleaning truly brings a wonderious feeling. And it lowers blood pressure for those wanting to know. But I know it does this bringing someone from half dead to feeling alive again. Im not saying I feel 100% improved as I have some disk and nerve damage in my leg which still hurts terribly, but maybe less. But fasting is truly amazing and ive tried alot of alternative practices which seemed to really not work if any at all. So best of luck, and there is something for real to fasting.

Anonymous's picture

Fasting

Hi! To start with it is a great article!! The information is really great. Yes its true that some religious people do follow fast and its there respect towards there god. were as the fasting is concerned I agree what u have described in your article and fasting is also to keep one self fit in other way where eating 3 times a day is also indigestible. So we need to take care of our health n we need to manage that how to eat limited so that it digest’s properly and fasting is one of the good way to control over weight.

bağlama büyüsü's picture

Well my experience about

Well my experience about fasting is following...and just clarify I am a muslim and I fast from sun rise to sun set about 12 to 13 hous of fasting in which we don't eat , smoke ,drink and stay away from our spouces also practice patience and avoid cynical thinking and vulgar and arrogant words.

Anonymous's picture

Intermittent Fasting

Two points:

1. I also noticed that this essay does not have good scientific references for the claims made. This is too bad, as the references are available in the literature, particularly for something called intermittent fasting -- that is, fasting for one day and then eating one day. The health benefits include: better preservation of the central and peripheral nervous system, similar benefits for the vascular system (including the heart) and delayed onset and growth of tumors, with that said:

2. If you are older (above 40 years old (woman) and 50 (male) or are pregnant, you should make sure that your doctor knows what you are doing (even if he/she doesn't agree). This is because you can hasten the effects of such things as osteoporosis by not getting enough calcium or even cause other nutritional problems by not eating properly on the days that you are eating.

As far as losing weight goes. I don't think it matters whether fasting is the "easy" way to lose weight or not. What matters is that the weight is lost and that one eats in a relatively healthy way. My own experience is as follows:

I am not fasting for spiritual reasons. Before fasting, I did exercise and I did eat better than most of the people I know, I just ate too much. I decided to try intermittent fasting because I believe that I am "addicted" to food. In other words, if it is in front of me, I will eat it. It is easier to just say "no". This has been borne out by my not feeling very hungry when fasting (at least at first).

I try to get twice as much calcium on the days that I do eat (remember, I am fasting to lose weight and get some health benefits) and I try to eat a good amount of fiber (20 -- 30 grams). I do not take shortcuts (calcium pills or fiber drinks), I just do this the old fashioned way, by eating. Generally I find that by doing this, I get plenty of calories and feel full.

On the other hand, this is still not easy for me. I constantly want food the first few days that I fast, but not because I am hungry. After fasting intermittently for several weeks, I do get hungry while fasting and there are some days that it really takes a lot of will power to get through to the end. There have been times that I have failed, but I just get back up and start again (in other words, don't use a failure one day as an excuse to give up). My neighbors upstairs have a tendency to cook things sometimes that make me extremely hungry (such as the garlic bread one day and the pasta another). Keeping busy is a great way to keep on fasting.

I did this once, a couple of years ago for 2 months, and afterwards found that I had no inclination to eat the TV dinners that I had been eating. This time (I'm doing it again), I am finding that I am losing my wish to eat sweets.
In addition, I have an autoimmune form of conjunctivitis (pink eye) and it has essentially gone away. This is perhaps due to a drop in my T-cells, which the scientific literature says happens in fasting animals. While this is a good thing for me in this case, losing T-cells is not normally considered good (think HIV). Still, I believe that for me, the benefits outweigh the risks. Weight loss is slow, but that is good.

A word of caution: My father did this for several months and at the end had severe osteoporosis which is why I suggest getting a bone density check and making sure that you get calcium.

I fast for about 30 -- 36 hours (depending on when I eat my last meal and then the next day (starting at 6:00 am at the earliest) eat three meals and repeat. I sometimes do wake up with a headache on the eating day, but that goes away when I eat. I normally break my fast with whole grain crackers and cheese, followed by a bowl of yogurt and fruit.

My friends all think that I am crazy, but have been very good about indulging me and really try to plan dinner parties around when I will be eating. I am a microbiologist and all my friends are grad students or faculty, so scientists are not all against this. They just like to have decent references for things of this sort (which I am able to give them). Fortunately for them, they are all thin and therefore don't need to do this to lose weight. But they are understanding about my need.

My experience with my doctor was that he only wanted to make sure that I was getting enough calcium and then he even commented that there were medical studies showing that fasting once a week promoted better cardiovascular health.

Hopefully this is more than enough information to help anyone make the decision of whether they wish to take my path or not. I include a couple of references (out of the many I have found) below. Once again, it is a pity that the author of this article (who otherwise writes so well) did not bother to look for readable scientific articles on fasting benefits, as there are so many good ones out there. Please don't quote these articles out of context, as that will cause problems. I am trying to support this article, not tear it down.

1. Mattson MP, Wan R. 2005. Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. J Nutr Biochem.: 16 (3), p. 129 -- 137.

2. Kuchroo, Vijay K. and Lindsay B. Nicholson. March 6, 2003. Fast and Feel Good? Nature. V.422, p. 27-28.

shreeram's picture

wow thanks

i have started fasting from today feeling good. actually i saw a program on discovery chaneel. will continue for long.

Anonymous's picture

My fasting experience

Hi,

To start with it is a great article!!
I am an R&D engineer with a relatively strong scientific background and therefore I do not generalize based on lone events. The problem with any argument or conclusion with fasting is that there are not enough scientific evidences to prove what it can do. To test it out, I personally underwent 21 days water fast and I found that there is some amount of honesty in the fact that it does help you better your physical wellbeing and to some extent rejuvenate your psychological stance. The visible benefits that I witnessed in my own body were

1. My muscles grew like 3 inches more in diameter on biceps + triceps combined (I actually measured them a day before fast and 14 days after fast. After fast, I incorporated simple program of only pushups and pull ups)
2. Relatively Clear and radiant skin (I could see this in the mirror but I believed it when my sister asked me if I started taking facials)
3. I reduced the power of my spectacles from -1.75 to -1.00 (Now I dont feel like wearing my specs anymore)
4. I gave up smoking (This is the most important benefit, I had been smoking for almost 9 years that made my skin like rough leather and I really wanted to get rid of it)
5. I have relatively more ripped looks and I can now see my abdomen muscles( not all six packs but I can see 4 of them now)

I did this exercise 6 months back and I am currently again on 21 days fast to see if I can improve on my current situation further.

Pankaj

Serendip Visitor's picture

Inspire

Your observation... inspired me... thax...

Robert Heist's picture

Odd Day Fasting

I am very impressed with the concepts here.
I am curious were the line is to be drawn.
If I were to Fast on Odd Numbered days and east normally on the Even Numbered Days, would I be in danger?

Anonymous's picture

Fasting

There certainly is a lot to be said for allowing the body to rest from the burden of constantly digesting. In ancient days the notion of continuous eating (heavy and indulgent food) and drinking was much rarer. By necessity human beings would endure period of fasting or little eating. Given the lifestyles we live, which often include highly processed and quick, convenient foods, we place a huge load on our bodies and organs, in digesting and breaking down what we put in them.

Thank you for sharing such a succinct, balanced and scientific article. The reality is that there is a lot of research and many studies in this field. If conducted with wisdom and moderation the benefits are a plenty.

Gena's picture

Any benefits that starvation

Any benefits that starvation avails me is greatly outweighed (in several senses of the term) by how good food is...

Anonymous's picture

Fasting to lose weight?

Instead of fasting why not try eating healthy, nutritious, low-sugar, whole wheat foods and exercising? Extended fasting seems like the 'easy' way to lose weight. My next question is, how long before the weight is back on? Returning to normal caloric intake when the body's metabolism is lowered will, naturally, lead to an increase of calories stored in the body, and ulitmately - fat. My final question is, why is fasting equated with discipline? I hear people talk about the 'control' they have over their bodies when they fast; that they have disciplined their bodies. Reducing caloric intake is a good idea if one eats unhealthy, perhaps the 'discipline' should be extended into daily life and watching what is put into the body, rather than putting in nothing at all. Fasting for religious purposes is not often done for weeks without ANY food. Many Muslims feast heartily while the sun is down.

To lose weight; eat healthy and exercise. Feel free to indulge in tasty delights but in moderate portions.

To get closer to which ever God you believe in; be a better person and love the fellow inhabitants of Earth.

These are just my thoughts, if you don't like them that's fine. But I accept your thoughts, so please accept mine.

Akbaba Caddesi's picture

Actually, you should eat

Actually, you should eat healthy and do exercise all the time. And fasting cleans your body from DDT and others, if the article says true.

Eat healthy.

Fast.

Do exercise.

Be a better person. Love the good. Don't follow the evil.

abdul's picture

benefit of fasting and fasting Ramadan even for diabetes

From an Articles by Shahid Athar, M.D.

Most Muslims do not fast because of medical benefits but because it has been ordained to them in the Quran. The medical benefits of fasting are as a result of fasting. Fasting in general has been used in medicine for medical reasons including weight management, for rest of the digestive tract and for lowering lipids. There are many adverse effects of total fasting as well as so-called crash diets. Islamic fasting is different from such diet plans because in Ramadan fasting, there is no malnutrition or inadequate calorie intake. The caloric intake of Muslims during Ramadan is at or slightly below the national requirement guidelines. In addition, the fasting in Ramadan is voluntarily taken and is not a prescribed imposition from the physician.

Ramadan is a month of self-regulation and self-training, with the hope that this training will last beyond the end of Ramadan. If the lessons learned during Ramadan, whether in terms of dietary intake or righteousness, are carried on after Ramadan, it is beneficial for one's entire life. Moreover, the type of food taken during Ramadan does not have any selective criteria of crash diets such as those which are protein only or fruit only type diets. Everything that is permissible is taken in moderate quantities.

The only difference between Ramadan and total fasting is the timing of the food; during Ramadan, we basically miss lunch and take an early breakfast and do not eat until dusk. Abstinence from water during this period is not bad at all and in fact, it causes concentration of all fluids within the body, producing slight dehydration. The body has its own water conservation mechanism; in fact, it has been shown that slight dehydration and water conservation, at least in plant life, improve their longevity.

The physiological effect of fasting includes lower of blood sugar, lowering of cholesterol and lowering of the systolic blood pressure. In fact, Ramadan fasting would be an ideal recommendation for treatment of mild to moderate, stable, non-insulin diabetes, obesity and essential hypertension. In 1994 the first International Congress on "Health and Ramadan", held in Casablanca, entered 50 research papers from all over the world, from Muslim and non-Muslim researchers who have done extensive studies on the medical ethics of fasting. While improvement in many medical conditions was noted; however, in no way did fasting worsen any patients' health or baseline medical condition. On the other hand, patients who are suffering from severe diseases, whether diabetes or coronary artery disease, kidney stones, etc., are exempt from fasting and should not try to fast.

There are psychological effects of fasting as well. There is a peace and tranquility for those who fast during the month of Ramadan. Personal hostility is at a minimum, and the crime rate decreases. This psychological improvement could be related to better stabilization of blood glucose during fasting as hypoglycemia after eating, aggravates behavior changes.

Recitation of the Quran not only produces a tranquility of heart and mind, but improves the memory. Therefore, I encourage my Muslim patients to fast in the month of Ramadan, but they must do it under medical supervision. Healthy adult Muslims should not fear becoming weak by fasting, but instead it should improve their health and stamina

LI Rockin Rachel's picture

Fasting!

Thanks for sharing. I have been fasting on and off my entire life. Most people do not agree with me. Most think I am crazy. I am 47 years old and look better now, then when I was in my twenties. Life is short and if fasting helps increase my days.......do I need to question anything? I am happy to know there others out there....somewhere who have the same kind of concepts. I work out almost everyday and feel strong. Thanks again.......LI Rockin Rachel!

Anonymous's picture

I have read several comments

I have read several comments which described fasting as the "easy" way to lose weight. First, this paper was not proposing that fasting should be used as a weight-loss method. It was describing the various benefits that proponents have ascribed to fasting - one of which happens to be weight-loss.

However, there is nothing "easy" about completely abstaining from food. In fact, I dare say, it's probably the hardest thing to do. Given our modern, satisfy-indulge-capitulate to-the-sensual-desires mentality and paradigm, to abstain from food is definitely simple. But, easy?

There is an old saying: People laugh at or are afraid of things they don't understand. Well, fasting can definitely be seen as an enigma to the uninitiated. But, before becoming judgmental, research, engage with those who have done it, try it for yourselves. People spend billions on the "fountains-of-youth" out there on the high street and high-end shops. What if the proverbial fountain was literally just that - a fountain. Here's to happy hydration, and health.

Anonymous's picture

hmm

Seems to be a lot of controversy... There seems to be a lot of evidence suggesting fasting can be healthy to a point and I suspect it is healthy once a year or so for a short period. I believe, the old cliche "moderation in everything" holds true. Glad to see a comment suggesting we simply choose healthy raw and whole foods combined with excercise. Too many people don't want to do the work it takes over the long haul. meditation and fasting take litte effort but on the other hand, choosing a healthy snack over that yummy bag of chips or some wings, going to the gym or a hike rather than hangen with your pals watching the game over a few beers are the really hard choices the time where real self disciple comes in.

Anonymous's picture

"Too many people don't want

"Too many people don't want to do the work it takes over the long haul. meditation and fasting take litte effort..."

In response to your comment above: I don't fast for weight loss, as I have always been thin—just thin naturally and very active and athletic growing up. I started fasting for spiritual growth and I'd like to say that meditation and fasting do in fact take a lot of effort. Not that making healthy food and lifestyle choices don't, it takes much discipline to eat healthy and refrain from eating foods you love to eat but you know are not good for you. I know firsthand that a fast and spending the time meditating is very much an act of discipline and will power. It is not an easy way out.

Medifast's picture

I fast twice a month

It has been a practice to fast at around 11 days after new moon and full moon. It is these days when the lunar gravity is in full strength, making faster more effective. I fast for a full day, starting from 6 am to 6 am the next morning. I break my fast my salt+lime water, then an intake of fruits.

Jemma Jackson's picture

My fast

I'd like to add to the above comments. I practice intermittent fasting - that is fast for a day or two, then eat normally again. When I first tried it, I was worried I wouldn't be able to do it - that I would feel too hungry, get faint etc.

I didn't - and in fact, I found it very liberating - does that sound weird, lol?

On fasting days, I don't have to worry about what's for lunch, I save time by not thinking about or having lunch (or any other meal) - so not only does fasting help me keep my weight stable and allows for some indulgences on the non fasting days, but it allows me to focus more on my work. It also encourages me to eat healthily....oddly enough, the last thing I want to do when I feel 'clean inside' is to put junk in there, so my food choices have improved dramatically.

I have written some articles on fat loss and fitness, including one on intermittent fasting - hope it helps some of you out there.

ilona's picture

fasting

Hi,

Could you please send me the link to your articles? I would like to know more about your experience of fasting as I'd like to try it myself.

Happy and Healthy New Year!

Ilona

std clinic london's picture

Wonderful article. I believe

Wonderful article. I believe fasting is a healthy thing as well. Often times when I mention it to people, it makes them nervous. They think it is a disorder. When really over-eating is the disorder. We should eat much less. I really like your blog. Thanks for visiting mine.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Citations?

This essay is a little bit worrisome. I think it's quite possible that fasting is good for your health, but this paper makes huge allegations with no supporting evidence.

1. I'm a little worried about the claims that fasting actually decreases the error rate in protein translation: I've searched high and wide for a way to even begin to verify such a claim, but could find none. Furthermore, your citation just referenced this very paper for evidence.
2. I also don't understand how wound repair occurs in increased amounts when stockpiling energy; all the evidence i've seen shows that fasting actually decreases rates of wound healing. This is the reason for contraindication of fasting while wounded: there is a positive correlation between body temperature and wound healing, within normal boundaries for health. Fasting, as you mentioned, drops your core temperature, slowing wound healing.
(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13268336?dopt=Abstract).

3. The earthworm study referenced a broken link to sumeria.com. All it had listed were advertisements for some nonverified or alternative medicine treatments like colon cleansers. The paper also trails off into a suggestion that the earthworm fasting schedule might just lead to a 300 year increase in life expectancy. It might be nice to show a differential in age ranges of people who fast versus those who do not, rather than leaving the reader to guess.

I've seen a lot of evidence that calorie restriction does prolong life, you're right. However, it sounds like you need strong (actual) citations in order to support these claims. I'm not saying that it's impossible, but rather that the evidence doesn't support what you're saying. You need real citations. Best of luck to you.

marriage help's picture

I am fasting now

I'm on day 2 and 1/2 of fasting. It hasn't been as hard as I thought. I hope that there are health benefits. I'm hoping that it helps my allergies. I don't have food allergies, but have been told that the toxins in my colon and other areas are cleaned during a fast.

This is a good article, especially the part about the body removing focus from the digestive system to focus on other things.

Gruffy's picture

GOOD

its a very good discipline & it rejuvenates you, it nourishes you, it corrects all that there is, that needs correction, it clears your system & gives you the feeling that you cannot experience without actually going through with it, so just go ahead & trust me you will thank yourself. All the best

Dee's picture

Fasting

I grew up in a family that considered fasting one day every week a must in their lives. I never did it, but the older females did it. My mother is 70 and throught her life she has mantained a healthy weight and no diseases other than minor colds. My grandmother did it and was healthy until her 90's when she started losing her vision and submitted to an eye surgery. Sadly she died from complications right after the surgery ( same day). I truly believe she would have lived to be a 100 easily. So now I am considering fasting in my life for health reasons and my plan is to do it yearly. I will try my first fasting this week. I already started preparing for the fasting by having one day of leek soup only. Today I had an orange and tomorrow I will have nothing but water. I am still thinking of the benfits of water vs juice fasting though..
Good luck to all of you!

Anonymous's picture

Fasting

I would like to start off by extending a big hello to everyone! I am new to this forum and just so happend to luck up on it when looking for information on fasting. I'm dealing with a lot of things right now in my life such as stress, wanting to become pregnant, needing to lose weight and I think that fasting will help me in all areas. The only thing that I am scared about is that I may not be able to it. I have tried fasting once before and by the middle of the night I wake up hungry and this is at 2 or 3 am.

I really need to seek God, because I feel that I have tried everything else and I am completley stuck in this point of my life. I was talking to my husband about possibly doing a fast together, maybe this will help our baby situation. He said that he would, but the point of the matter is I don't know if I could do it.

I guess my questions for you guys would be, do you think that I should start with a one or two day fast and work my way from there? Or should I try to committ and do a seven day fast.

One more thing, and please forgive me for being so long wind(lol). Water is my problem, I do not like the taste of water at all. I don't drink it and I know that this is not good for me. Could I possibly put something in the water, or can I drink grapefruit juices?

Any suggestions are welcome and would be greatly appreciated.

I look forward to hearing from each of you soon.

Thanks

Anonymous's picture

fasting

To the lady that wants to get pregnant, lose weight, & relieve stress. I would recommend Paul Bragg's paper back book "The Miracle of Fasting".(It covers a lot more than just fasting & is not a boring read but is very inspirational) I would also say start with a short three day fast after reading the book. Paul Bragg walked with Ghandi and said he put some lemon in his water when fasting. Yes you will have some form of hunger pain, but it will pass in a relatively short time. Tell yourself when you are having a period of pain while fasting that it is normal, & is accomplishing a good thing for your health, also tell yourself that the pain is a lot less than the pain of sickness, poor health, & medical bills. The apostle Paul said to "fight the good fight of faith". So as a soldier to fight poor health, "endure the temporary pain of fasting, and have victory over the battle to receive your crown of good health as a reward for your fight" If you use juices, do fresh sqweezed only, and consider soda pop as one of the worst things you could drink. Get yourself a juicer if you don't have one. Remember to that Jesus said "let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" abide in Him. Cast all your cares and afflictions on Him, for He cares for you!

Serendip Visitor's picture

fasting

If you research the scientific evidence about the health benefits of fasting, you'll be amazed. It is for this reason that many religions require fasting .for example the muslims fast a whole month every year of their life.but this does not mean that they dont eat the whole month because this is not possible and i dont think that starving is healthy either. However , they fast from the sun rise until the sun set but then they can eat, also they do eat before the sun rise ( breakfast). so if you try to wake up before the sun rise and eat breakfast or what ever yo prefer you'll be ready for the day. it has an amazing healing power and it disintoxifies the body. If you are religious you n pray too especially before the sun rise god is so close. the tip is that it'll be difficult the 3 first day but then you'll get used to it. fast as you can then you can take a break if you want and start again . for sure you will loose weight

Tim's picture

Muslim fasting

Well, Muslim fasting during Ramadan is fasting from sun up to sun down which equates to about 8-12 hours per day without food depending on the latitude and time of year. But most people in the world fast from sundown to sun up by virtue of sleeping overnight, which translates to 12 hours roughly... maybe longer if one does not eat breakfast. So muslim fasting is no big thing, and not at all healthy since it promotes bingeing which these people do.

Serendip Visitor's picture

So you are saying that the

So you are saying that the energy needs of the body are higher during sleep rather than day to day activities?

Think about it.

Harry's picture

The fast of Rammadan is very

The fast of Rammadan is very healthy. You can eat a very small meal called the sahoor meal before the morning prayer and you do not eat or drink anything until after the sunset prayer (Mahgrib). The purpose of the fast is not to lose weight or to gain better health, but it is done for G-D and His Glory. It is also done to remind us of our fellow creatures who do not meet their own needs and what they suffer all year round. The health benifits are only added blessings!

Besides food and water are not the only things from wich you fast. You fast from argueing and displaying anger. It is a time to read the entire Quran and a oppurtune time to give alm and community service. It is also a time to strengthen community bonds and focus on your self improvement.

Anonymous's picture

you have any proof to back up

you have any proof to back up your story? I don't see many FAT muslims, do you?

Serendip Visitor's picture

Hi there

My advise to you is to read about islam it will help you through all of it!
Thank you

helen's picture

wow .. really? why so i can

wow .. really? why so i can stone my woman in public if she glances up at a man that is not part of her family? why, so I can lock up my women in the house and not let them leave unless accompanied by a family member? why, so I can kill my daughters under the label of "honor"? why, so I can be raped by a family member but not be able to confront them because it was my fault for being beautiful - and if I do confront them I will get stoned instead of the perpetrator?

you make me sick

Serendip Visitor's picture

YOU make ME sick. As a

YOU make ME sick. As a (non-practicing) Christian, I've always been taught that we should live ours lives with TOLERANCE. I'm pretty sure that Jesus preached love for others, not judging others based on our own faulty and narrow minded misconceptions. Aside from it being totally fallacious to say that Muslims are encouraged to stone and rape women, you need to recognize that every social and religious group has fanatics. The Westboro Baptist Church calls themselves Christians--is that how you act? Similarly, those who engage in such acts of violence against women and call themselves Muslims are in NO WAY representative of Islam as a whole. You should really learn about a religion before shouting out that it's evil, because such ignorance makes you the poor, evil spirit.

By the way, both Christianity and Islam are Abrahamic religions...

Serendip Visitor's picture

Reply

Fasting is not as difficult as you think it is . When you start fasting and maybe get hungry at night and wake up you should use this wake up call to pray to God . It would be the best time cos you will not have any disturbance and your mind will also be quiet and calm and it will make a good spiritual connection . Your prays to be pregnant will also be answered sooner this way and you will discover that your relation with God will become closer and your road to spirituality will increase so that whatever you need it will only be a thought away . Give it a go and feel , see and discover the spiritual and physical benefits . Fasting only have benefits and no negatives . I wish you well and await to congratulate you soon with the gift of God for you be the mother soon .

Tyrone's picture

Fasting...

I saw your comment and felt like my experience could help you. A complete fast, and to a lesser extent a partial fast, takes a certain amount of discipline that most people don't regularly use. That being said, I would ease into fasting. This works very well if you haven't fasted in a while.

Instead of doing one or two days, fast for six hours at a time. In essence, skip a meal. Then some short time later, fast 12 hours. I would fast for 12 hours a couple of days to get the body used to being without food. You will understand what I am talking about. Around your normal eating time, an undisciplined body will produce headaches, the aroma of your favorite foods, temper tantrums, and many other peculiar distractions. I found that doing breathing exercises along with fasting helped ease the discomfort in my body. But, no matter what your body does, short of passing out, persist.

Your body will give up and will accept the fast. After that point, you will be able to increase the fast to 24, 48, 72 hours without hassle from the body. You will also have freed yourself from your addiction to food.

My experience was even slower than this. Before I went on to an eleven day complete fast, I just gave up eating meat. I did this for about two weeks and I found myself eating less and less. Then I had the courage to skip meals. Then liquids, then water.

Good luck, let me know how it turns out. I have gotten away from fasting and have gained weight and started to age. I decided last week that enough was enough. I am going to regain control over myself and stop being a slave to my bodies every desire.

Let me know how it goes

Anonymous's picture

You wil find that after

You wil find that after awhile you will grow to love water. After all, it is THE ONLY natural drink put on this earth, even superior to juices. Coffee, colas, sports drinks are totally unnatural and, I believe,truly damaging to the human body...and mind.

What's more, as a graduate food scientsits, I firmly believe that the food we American's eat is the cause of practically all our diseases. Simply put: The human body was not meant to process processed fods. They're lifeless.

Hope this helps

Anonymous's picture

Coffee is natural. Coffee

Coffee is natural. Coffee that people drink is from coffee bean (produced by plants). Water is not the only natural drink on this earth, juices from fruits are also natural drink.

Lamb's picture

I think of water as a

I think of water as a substance in its naturally occurring, pure state. Coffee by that definition is not natural, but the bean is. Juice is not natural in that the fiber is removed. Both juice and coffee are much more concentrated substances of their original states.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Juices not natural

Don't know about Coffee, but juices are not natural, unless you squeeze the juice yourself. They have added sugars and sometimes other ingredients. Water is the best, and eat a fruit if you want to juices from it.

Arjun's picture

Coconut water is also naturally occurring

Coconut water is natural and is also an isotonic beverage. It's the healthiest drink around. They even use it in transfusions in the absence of blood.

Raghavendra's picture

How Coconut Water used for transfusions in the absence of blood

Hi,

From where did you get this information. Please give me some reference.

I would like to know more about this phenomenom that coconut water could be used for transusions in the absence of blood.

-Raghavendra

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