Though the kinds of fasting vary across religious practices as well as other health methods, the idea remains the same. Stop eating for a period of time before you eat again. It doesn’t have to be for very long, and it helps your body do the things it was meant to do since humankind’s inception.
Our Early Ancestors
During our hunting and gathering stages, people had to go long distances for acquiring food sources. Sometimes this meant going without food for a day or longer, and our bodies adapted to the lack of food by switching growth hormones on full speed to repair our bodies until we introduced food again, when it began the process of burning fats and building muscle.
Fasting has been proven to accelerate waste clearing left by dead or damaged cells called autophagy. Autophagy prevents the leading cause of age related chronic diseases, meaning fasting is incredibly beneficial for extending your life span. The positive effects have been studied across animal and human trials, and the results are astounding. Dr. Andrew Weil, founder and director of The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine writes that you can decrease cardio vascular, cancer, and diabetes risks, improve cognition, and protect against the effects of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
How Culture has Changed
Our culture began eating only two meals a day. Breakfast (break + fast) and dinner, which is also breaking a fast. At some point, ladies tea time became a luncheon which spawned the idea of incorporating a sit down time to eat a meal in the middle of the day. Then in the 80′s, suggestions were made to eat 6 meals a day with snacks in between. The trouble with that was, snacks are supposed to be carrots or other mainly vegetable or fruit items, not the energy bars or candy bars and chips that people consume. Because it has been so hugely accepted as part of societal norm now, people can justify eating these things by saying they’re snacking all day so their body can benefit. By doing so, you aren’t allowing your body the time it needs to repair damage, and are grossly exceeding the body’s caloric limits for the day.
You Won’t Miss It
Brad Pilon’s book Eat Stop Eat shows us how to incorporate intermittent fasting into our lives in a way that is manageable, easy and will last long term. He does not suggest going into any fasting program without reading how it works and how to do so correctly, and to speak to your doctor first if you have other health related concerns. His plan is a lifestyle change for the better, but it doesn’t take away anything you wouldn’t miss. Because of the fasting component, you are able to still eat your favourite foods, in moderation of course, and if they are things like pizza, or burgers, pastries or other things known to be high in calories and fat, simply cut your serving size in half. It doesn’t mean you have to stop eating them, just less of them. You would stop eating altogether two days a week, and let your body begin the cellular restructuring process.
More Positive Results
Dr. Gabe Mirkin, a sports medicine doctor, fitness guru, and long time radio host has written on the subject of fasting. He holds a rare honour, being one of very few doctors to have board certification in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. He suggests that since studies beginning in 1940, results have proven that fasting lowers blood sugar and fat levels, reduces high blood pressure, helps people to lose weight, prevents and treats diabetes, and lowers resting heart rate, leading to a decreased chance of heart attacks. It also lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. His advice also suggests that you should try to eat more healthy options, but that with intermittent fasting it isn’t necessary to do so.
Reported side effects of intermittent fasting
The potential drawbacks are few, including bad breath, irritability, dehydration and headaches, but it should be noted that these things are all temporary and can be intercepted before they happen. On fasting days, be sure to brush your teeth three times a day as if you were eating normally. Irritability is just a side effect of the habit of eating, not the hunger and will pass as your body becomes accustomed to it’s new rhythm. Dehydration and headaches go hand in hand, headaches come from a lack of hydration in the body, and as Eat Stop Eat encourages you to drink plenty on the fasting days, this should never become a problem in the first place.
The experts have spoken, and shared their sage advice with us, backing it with scientific methods, and evolutionary practices that make sense. Reading the reviews from people who are living the lifestyle mentioned in Brad’s book is the only other step to take to see that unlike a lot of other unhealthy diets out there, this one is real, it’s easy and it’s so simple you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.