What do you have to lose?
By Dan Gleason, DC
Many people don’t track how many meals, snacks or caloric drinks they consume each day. In 1970, the average American ate 3.3 times per day. By 2000, it had gone to 6.6 times per day. Now, it is over 10 times per day! This increased frequency, along with portion distortion, has led to a 23 percent increase in calories consumed. It’s no wonder that two-thirds of Americans are overweight and one-third are considered obese.
Obesity is a symptom. It is a symptom of eating in a way that causes heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension and most of the common modern diseases. Fasting is an easy, effective and cost-free way of addressing these problems. Intermittent fasting is the absence of eating during prescribed periods of time. It can be thought of as giving the GI system a rest and allowing it to complete the digestive cycle.
Each time a person eats, the blood glucose and insulin go up. Under the influence of insulin, glucose is stored in the liver or converted to fat for storage. When too many sugars and starches are eaten and when eating too often, it can create inflammation, fluid retention, weight loss resistance and loss of magnesium and/or potassium.
People often ask: “How does fasting work?” Fasting promotes autophagy; which is defined as “self-swallowing.” By this process, damaged/dysfunctional cells are removed making room for new functional cells. Fasting promotes neuronal neuroplasticity in the brain which can stop and/or reverse memory loss. Fasting also produces ketones, a preferred fuel for brain cells, producing better memory and mood.
Benefits of fasting include:
- Lowered insulin and glucose levels (boost mental clarity)
- Reduced inflammation
- Protection against certain cancers
- Boost in immunity
- Impact on stem cells (creation of new tissue cells)
- Boost in HGH protection (prevents bone and muscle breakdown)
- Promotion of weight loss and autophagy
Here’s how to get started:
- Stop snacking!
- Pick a window of time to stop and start eating
- Make sure that food eaten has high nutritional value
- Be flexible, trying different lengths of time for fasts
- Trust the process, allow for time and grace
When doing a clean fast, drink only organic coffee, tea and water. A good way to start is to daily eat only within a six-hour window. For most people, this means eating only at noon and 6 p.m. or avoiding either breakfast or supper. After getting used to this pattern, once a week try eating only one meal per day. As the body system adapts, it may be possible to do two- to five-day fasts monthly. Other strategies include 30- or 36-hour fasts. Some people just don’t eat on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The great part about fasting is that it can be stopped at any time.
Supplemental nutrition is key to success. The most important supplements are electrolytes and water, a multivitamin, vitamin D, magnesium, probiotics, fiber and other digestive support.
Fasting is not recommended when pregnant or lactating, or for anyone with anorexia or a BMI less than 18. There are special considerations for women who are cycling and during perimenopause and menopause. Anyone with chronic health problems absolutely must work with their consulting primary care physician. At the very least, Stop Snacking!
It is always recommended to check with a doctor and work with an experienced clinic. There are many good books available on fasting, including The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jason Fung, M.D. and Jimmy Moore. Fasting is an age-old method of health care. Ben Franklin said, “The best of all medicines are rest and fasting.”
Dr. Dan Gleason is the owner of The Gleason Center located at 19084 North Fruitport Road in Spring Lake. For more info: go to TheGleasonCenter.com or call 616-846-5410.