Fasting has been practiced for thousands of years. In fact, it’s a Biblical term. Every religion has a time of fasting when people stop consuming food, drink or both for a certain period of time to purify the body, mind and spirit.
There are medical reasons for fasting. For example, we’re often required to fast before surgery so digestion isn’t affected by the changes to the body that occur while we’re under anesthesia. We’re often required to fast before a blood test in order to get a more accurate baseline count.
Fasting has also been used to treat disease. Dr. Joel Fuhrman, known for the Nutritarian Diet that focuses on eating foods that are rich in micronutrients, has conducted research that suggests fasting can reduce the side effects of chemotherapy treatment for cancer and increase the likelihood of a cure.
One type of fasting that is becoming more widely embraced is intermittent fasting, a pattern of eating that involves fasting for about 16 hours. Typically, you stop eating at 8 pm, go to bed, drink only black coffee or water when you get up, and resume eating at lunchtime.
That doesn’t mean you have the green light to gorge yourself or load up on French fries and soda when you resume eating. That’s what people do when they deprive themselves of food to lose weight and then quickly gain it back. Intermittent fasting helps us lose the bad weight and keep the good weight without requiring major behavioral changes.
When you stop eating, your body enters a fasted state about 8-12 hours after your last meal. At this point, digestion and absorption are long complete and insulin levels are low, making it easier for the body to burn fat.
One of the great things about intermittent fasting is that it’s so simple. You skip one meal and maybe one snack, and do this 1-3 days per week. It requires behavioral changes that most people can handle both physically and psychologically, and they can stick with it for a longer period of time.
To be clear, I’m not saying everyone should try intermittent fasting. It’s not a fad diet, and it’s not for everybody.
Intermittent fasting is one of 30 dietary protocols that we at Natural Healthcare Center recommend based on a person’s bio-individuality. This determination should only be made by a doctor of functional medicine or clinical nutritionist. Intermittent fasting is just one more tool in the shed that we use to help people feel better, function better and live longer.