Fasting and Its Importance to Human Health
We have all heard or read about fasting. We have heard both good things and bad things about fasting. So what is the truth?
Well, first, let’s level set. There is a ton of misinformation and frankly crap about diet and what we should or should not eat. So we have to start this discussion with WHAT is a “perfect diet”? And even further what is useful food for our bodies. According to a 2019 study by DiMarzo, we need 8 dietary fats which our bodies use for fuel and for chemical mediators to run our bodies. If we do not ingest all 8 of these fats, then we will have to have a “backup system”. It turns out our microbiome is our “backup system” and will respond to a lack of dietary fats by making useful signaling molecules we would normally have to get from our lacking dietary fats. The beneficial bacteria in our microbiome are built to run on fiber and are fed by carbohydrates from plant sources. Amino acids are useful signaling molecules that we use all over our bodies.
So, we need fats. They are so important they are the only things your body stores. These would be any kind of fat you can stick on a triglyceride. Saturated fat, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fat. Your body wants to “model” stored fat in a proper ratio with each of these fats. In fact, if your adipose (fat) tissues are NOT modeled correctly, your adipose tissues will signal you to eat, regardless of how much you weigh.
Saturated fats are not McDonalds. Those are transfats and are dangerous. Saturated fats come from meat sources generally and can also be found in plants. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil by virtue of the oleic acid, and are found in many nuts like almonds and cashews. Polyunsaturated fats are found in nuts and seeds and also in fish. Saturated fat and omega 6 fats are inflammatory and are very prevalent in our diet. Omega 3 and monounsaturated fats are anti-inflammatory and are hard to find in our dietary choices. 80% of us will die of inflammatory diseases. It is literally as simple as dietary changes to change that statistic.
Last concept. Our bodies cycle through 2 major states of metabolism. When we eat a meal, our bodies will go into a “fed” state. In this state, our bodies will generally be running on the glucose we have eaten. We can only store glucose briefly. We will run on the glucose for about 5 hours after a meal. This is to allow our fat tissues to be remodeled. Our bodies work very hard to optimize the types of fats we have stored and will take a meal and break down the fats and store them for 5 hours after eating. After 5 hours our bodies will flip to a “fasting” state. There is literally a cellular switch that gets flipped! In the fasting state our bodies will begin to burn the fats we have just stored. We are about 50x more energetic in this state. Logic would indicate we are also 50x more intelligent and 50x more conscious in this state. Study after study says that if we want to live longer and be healthier, we need to be in this state. Calorie restriction and fasting both put us in this state.
The super bad news is that most of us NEVER GET THERE. In fact, it is almost like our society is forcing us to stay in a “fed” state. Think about it. If you eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and that cookie before bed…YOU NEVER GET TO A FASTING STATE. if you drink a coke or sugary beverage between meals…YOU NEVER GET TO A FASTING STATE. How about that energy drink? Yep, flips you to “fed”!
The easiest way to experiment with fasting is to do intermittent fasting. You eat in a 6-8 hour window. You can eat as much as you want. Ideally you are eating along a better diet than what is generally available as you will want to make sure you are getting the proper dietary fats. Outside the eating window, just drink water. You can flavor your water with natural herbs or drink tea. Just be careful with the sugar as this will flip you to fed as will consuming more than about 50 calories.
If you are going to try a longer fast, over a few days, then here are some suggestions. First, your body will demand that you model your fat BEFORE you start the fast. Think about a bear. After hibernation a bear will carefully model their fat through spring and summer. They eat a balanced set of fats and build balanced fat stores. Then in the fall they eat a bunch of sugary berries to put on that final bit of fat for the winter. So we need to think like a bear, model the fat, and then go on our longer fast.
The last topic to cover is ketosis. There is ALOT of misinformation and chaos around this topic. The truth is this. While your body will run on glucose, this is an emergency backup system, more primitive, and far less efficient than running on fat. If you read, you will read that your brain and liver want to run on glucose. This is not true. Your brain and liver want to run on a water soluble fuel. That fuel can be glucose. That fuel can also be ketones. When you are in a “fasting” state your body is in ketosis and will use ketones over glucose as its water soluble fuel substrate. Tell me again why we only use 10% of our brains? Perhaps because we run them on glucose not ketones?
The secret to reset our bodies is fasting. Fasting allows us to burn through the bad fats we have stored and to reset our body and start over. Fasting has been a solution for many disease states. Even cancer has been shown to be mediated with fasting. The keys to long life are calorie restrictions and fasting due to the state it puts our bodies in. Every major religion in the world will have an aspect of diet and fasting in their cannons.
God has always given us the cures. The cures are in Nature. We just need the Knowledge to unlock them!