The Seven Amazing Benefits of Fasting
When it comes to improving our health, one of the best (and least understood) ways is with fasting. There are many benefits of fasting, and we will go over 7 of my favorite in this piece. Intermittent fasting is simply skipping meals for an average of fourteen to thirty hours at a time.
Fasting is frowned on by many health practitioners who believe eating five or six meals per day is best. However, it is a simple, yet effective way to improve health at the cellular level. It’s also important to remember that fasting has been used by practically every society since the beginning of time. Our early ancestors understood the benefits of fasting, as a survival mechanism.
Warren and I discussed the 7 Amazing Health Benefits to Fasting
The benefits of fasting are amazing! When you’re intermittent fasting, your body’s using fat for energy. Personally, I intermittent fast daily for 16-18 hours after dinner. I don’t eat through the night (obviously), and I don’t eat breakfast. I eat a very small meal, fat and protein, typically around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and then I eat a very big dinner. At the end of the day, my caloric restriction is much less, but I don’t starve myself or go to bed hungry.
Here are seven amazing benefits of fasting that take place in the body during a fast:
Autophagy (or “self-eating”) is the process by which the body naturally removes cellular debris. This is one of the incredible benefits of fasting and a built in survival mechanism!
Autophagy means the body will always eat the bad cells and tissues for energy before using the good ones. Bad cells are not able to adapt to using fat for energy, so they begin to die off and become food for the body.
This is one of the most important benefits of fasting, because it’s these bad cells that could lead to a variety of health ailments in the body, including the following:
- Increased inflammation
- Food allergies
- Autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease, etc.)
Many studies indicate fasting can turn down an overactive immune system responsible for these conditions. Fasting has also been shown to regenerate pancreatic cells, and in animal models can even reverse diabetes.1
#2 Stem Cells:
Stem cells are unspecialized cells that give rise to differentiated cells.
They are often called “master cells” because they can grow into any of the body’s 200 types of cells. One of the benefits of fasting relating to stem cells, is there is a rise in stem cells during and after a fast. This helps to explain the miraculous healing that occurs with fasting.
According to a recent study by Italian researcher Valter Long, prolonged fasting breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells. During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells.
In many instances, older cells that were used by the body were the over-reactive cells that would lead to hyper-immunity and other health issues as described in the previous section. Thanks to the regeneration of newer, younger cells in the body, a better functioning immune system is possible.
One of the amazing experiences during a fast is the random pains in areas of past injuries or areas that simply need healing. The pain or discomfort felt is most often due to the autophagy stem cell reaction going on in that area of the body. Some would call this re-tracing, where the body goes back to old symptoms or injuries as part of the healing process. Science could never explain this phenomenon that was described by so many during fasting or detox but I believe the new science and studies will soon give us the answer.
People pay a lot of money for stem cell injections today for incredible regeneration of joints and to anti-age, and many times it is needed. Fortunately, the best news of all is the body will make them for free during a fast.
Ketones are produced from the burning of fat cells for energy.
They help to downregulate cellular inflammation, heal the gut as well as heal the brain. Ketones can also turn off bad genes and turn on good ones that help us live longer, healthier lives.
When you do an extended fast, your body will use the ketones because it has to in order to live. After approximately three days of fasting, the body adapts to using these ketones, increasing their numbers dramatically. As a result, your body’s forced to use them to obtain their health benefits.
Here are a few amazing benefits of using ketones:
- Mood stabilization
- Hormone regulation
- Increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol
- Slowed aging
- Blood sugar regulation
- Memory and Cognitive Improvement (the brain loves them)
- Turn off bad genes and turns good ones on
Ketones are the byproduct of fat metabolism (fat burning), and when we see a blood ketone level of .5-10 you are now in what is known as nutritional ketosis.
Please note: Nutritional ketosis should not be confused with “diabetic ketosis” where ketones level will soar to levels above 50. Nutritional ketosis occurs when carbohydrates are limited to below 50 grams per day. This will force the cells to use fat as a primary energy source. The cells can only use sugar (carbs) or fat for energy, so when carbs are severely restricted during fasting, it will shift over to using fat and therefore, produce ketones.
#4 Energy Diversion
One of the most important (and overlooked) aspects of fasting is energy diversion.
Energy deviation is really the description of what happens during our fast. Many of us have no idea how much energy it takes to metabolize food.
You may think, “okay, I’m eating it, and obviously, there’s some energy output eating it.” That’s true, but then it’s digesting it, which takes massive energy. Then it’s assimilating it, which is actually the greatest amount of energy. Next, we have what happens at the cell. The body takes that energy and drives all of these processes from glycolysis to the Krebs cycle; massive ATP use, massive energy. The more energy you burn or use, the more pollution you create.
Therefore, we’re demanding the body to downregulate that inflammation and oxidative stress. We’re demanding the body’s massive energy output to digest and assimilate food. Here’s the point: when we stop eating, the body goes “wait a minute: What am I going to do with all this energy?”
It’s like when you’re on vacation: you have nothing specific planned and wonder what you’re going to do with all that extra time and energy. Guess what the body does? It doesn’t sit back on the beach and drink a margarita. Instead, it says “I’m going to put that energy to healing.”
It’s energy deviation, so it shifts the energy used when eating to healing the body.
I have a saying that I often tell my clients: “Don’t eat less; eat less often.” When we looked at the studies, we thought, oh, eating less is the key to living longer. Technically, it is but the key is to eat less by eating less often. By not eating throughout the day, your body uses that energy for better processes of healing. It’s simply diverting that energy to repair the body.
#5 Hormone Optimization:
Even during a short fast there’s a rapid increase in growth hormone.
Optimizing hormones is not about gaining more hormones, but about becoming more hormone-sensitive. Hormones like testosterone (or any that affect healing) are dramatically amped up during a fast.
Over time, our cells become more sensitive to our hormones, even insulin. For example, during a fast, hormone sensitivity increases, while glucose and insulin stabilizes. There’s also a drop in thyroid hormone that takes place, but the body becomes more sensitive to it when it needs it. Fasting cleanses the body and allows it to listen to those hormones more effectively.
#6 Resets Microbiome (Gut Bacteria):
Fasting fixes the gut barrier.
Environmental changes and stressors have been shown to change the microbiome, which in turn can have a dramatic effect on gut healing. Fasting is especially restorative for a leaky gut, which is described as when the intestine wall exhibits excessive permeability.
Fasting provides a break from digesting food, allowing the body time to “heal and seal” the gut lining. I’ve observed fasts heal serious gut conditions time and time again. This is one of the critical benefits of fasting because over 80% of your immune lies in the gut, and the microbiome influences our genetic expression. Fasting starves out bad bacteria, and refeeding with fermented foods helps to repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria.
#7 Resets DNA (Gene Code)
The last of seven benefits of fasting pertains to our DNA.
Recently, several studies have come out saying something I have instinctively known for years: people didn’t get sick from their bad genes, but from bad lifestyles and living in a toxic world. One of the things I learned from this research is that you can have the best protocol, diet, and intentions, but if a bad gene of susceptibility is turned on and expressing an unhealthy condition, it must be turned off for true healing and a lasting change.
Today, when we hear the term “it runs in my family,” that normally means genetics. This is where genes are passed from the parents to their children, generation to generation. This leads people to believe that sickness is transferred down through the generations as well.
Thankfully, this is NOT true. Thanks to epigenetics, we have discovered that we are now able to free ourselves from the very diseases that may have plagued our families for generations. For example, our mind interprets the world we live in, and if we are experiencing stress or chronic anxiety, the brain secretes these harmful chemicals, and our cells will adjust accordingly.
Stress Affects our Genetics
These thoughts and feelings are not affected by genetics, but our environment and how we react to it. When the mind experiences feelings like stress and fear, it protects itself by releasing chemicals that get you ready for fight or flight. Fight or flight means I’m going to use my arms and legs. I’ve got to run away or I’ve got to fight. What do the hormones and chemicals of fear do? They shut down all the mechanisms of the body that don’t have anything to do with protection to allocate all the energy of the body for protection.
Even though the body is in a constant state of stress and energy is being diverted to the perceived danger, it still must replace billions of cells every day. These billions of new cells are invariably weaker than the cells they are replacing, thus lowering the body’s immune system and increasing the susceptibility to illness and disease.
By incorporating fasting into our lives, along with learning to eliminate environmental stressors from our lives, we are one step closer to good health.
Personally, I intermittent fast every day and recommend my clients do so as well. Give fasting a try. Your body will thank you!
Fasting-Mimicking Diet Promotes Ngn3-Driven β-Cell Regeneration to Reverse Diabetes. https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(17)30130-7
Prolonged fasting reduces IGF-1/PKA to promote hematopoietic-stem-cell-based regeneration and reverse immunosuppression. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24905167