Fasting has been part of naturopathic, holistic and biblical medicine for millenia. In France, fasting as a detox and rejuvenation technique has been part of the health-care landscape for hundreds of years. Evolutionarily, fasting has been a survival mechanism that has beenbiologically fine-tuned for millions of years. There are many types of Fasts, water, juice, mono-fasting (on one fruit or veggie), intermittent, biblical, alternate, and, among others, new one designed by Professor Longo called “fasting mimicking diet”, which is a new name for an old calorie-reducing diet. All of these different types of fasting regimes have benefits, some more than others. In this Page, I will first look at especially at water fasting schemes and their benefits (Section A) and conclude with how to break one’s fast via a holistic feasting approach (Section B). At the Institute’s Center, we organize short and long fasting periods. (See retreats).
Typology, Mechanisms and Benefts
“Fasting is at the foundation of the body’s ability to protect, repair, and rejuvenate itself.” Valter Longo
Water fasting, also known as a water cleanse, is the most common modality, it’s a type of fasting in which only water is used for a set period of time. People have been doing water fasts for millenia and also for different reasons, politically to protest against some policy as Ghandi did, spiritually out of a belief system and especially for medical reasons, a few effects being weight loss, the reduction of body fat, blood pressure and heart rate and the reversal of certain diseases like the metabolic syndrome and diabetes 2. (1, 2 & 3).
When one fasts, the energy system switches to a fat-burning energy system whereby the liver starts producing ketones. Ketosis is the state in which your body begins using energy from one’s internal fat stores instead of carbs. Water fasting helps the body to reach ketosis more quickly than dieting, it forces the body to burn fat cells for energy. (4)
An easier type of fasting than full hydric fasting is intermittent and alternate day fasting modalities, which the Institute also teaches. The benefits of these modalities vary according to the person and depending on multiple circumstances. Animal studies have found that intermittent fasting can extend lifespan by up to 80% over control groups. In humans, fasting has been found to reduce oxidative damage and inflammation. (5)
Mitophagy and Autophagy are also activated. Autophagy is the body’s normal, natural process for recycling unnecessary or dysfunctional components. Water fasting forces the system into an autophagic state. Mitophagy targets the cleaning up of the mitochondria. With the severely reduced caloric intake, the body is forced to be more selective in which cells it protects, its innate intelligence first protects the vital systems. (5) As a bonus, fasting encourages the body’s natural healing mechanisms to actively destroy and recycle damaged tissues, which may have a positive effect on several serious conditions.
There are lots of anecdotal evidence from people who claim that water fasting helped them overcome debilitating disorders, from diabetes, to metabolic syndrome and auto-immune diseases. Current research backs up many of these claims. Animal studies have found that alternate day fasting caused a major reduction in the incidence of cancer and metabolic syndrome. Rodents placed on an intermittent fast had fewer incidences of neurological disorders.(5)
The Relevance of Water
According to Dr. Gerald H. Pollack, a professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, water has a powerful role in cells. Close to the cell membrane, water organizes itself in a series of gel-like layers, rather than as a completely fluid solution. Dr. Pollack calls this “exclusion zone” (EZ) water, and it’s not the H2O we’re familiar with. EZ water is H3O2—three hydrogen atoms bonded to two oxygen atoms. The reason this is called the exclusion zone is because it excludes things—things like contaminants and impurities. EZ water holds a negative charge and pushes contaminants away from itself. This discovery may have serious implications for cell signaling and detoxification. (6)
Fasting Mimicking Diet
Designed by Valter Longo, PhD. Director of the Longevity Institute of the University of Southern California, the Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD) simply cuts 500 calories for four days each month while providing the body with a plant-based diet during those 4 days. FMD has rapidly gained traction in medical circles who are only recently discovering the benefits of fasting, monodiets and caloric restricted modalities. While making lots of money selling this simple technique. For example, the anti-aging academy sells a workshop on FMD and intermittent fasting for 599 dollars. (Source) (See Exhibits below)
Fasting Procedure and Breaking the Fast with Feasting
When fasting, planning is crucial. One should diminish his or her food intake proportionally to the amount of fast days that are targeted. When performing a water fast, it’s important to only consume fresh, clean, high-quality water. The effect of any contaminants in your water will only be magnified with no food in your stomach. The Institute’s recommended spring water over distilled water. To be on the safe side, better to ingest electrolytes.
It is recommended to drink 2-3 quarts (or liters) of water every day, that will help to assist the autophagy system. The first couple of days are more difficult because many toxins come out from lipids into the bloodstream. Hence, the importance of drinking an abundance of quality water. Usually after the third day, the gastric juice secrete less and less and the hunger pangs go away.
Image credit: D. Wolfe
Breaking the Fast
The Happiness Medicine Institute recommends a customized modality in both the type of fast to perform and in its breaking, including, but not limited to specific foods to be first used, thanks to which previousy damaged organs can get better repaired, see a short list thereof in the photo above.
Resisting the urge to overindulge after the fast is crucial. Always start with light liquid meals, in particular fruits first and then light soups. For fasts of 3-7 days, it should take 3.7 days to get to normal eating and one should wait at least 24 hours before reintroducing solid foods, save juicy fruits. During fasting, fat and other cells are burnt off while glycogen from the liver gets cleaned out. When one stops the fast, the body needs to get slowly back to glucose in the form of whole fruits and vegetables.
Before the body’s autolysis system starts consuming muscles, it’s innate intelligences finishes off using all of the dead cells, cellular debris and fats that are available for physiological maintenance. that’s why there are not set rules in terms of how long one can fast, althought it is recommended to not go over 40 days, especially if the fasting person does not have much fat. (7)
Patients believe they cannot or should not fast because it will send their body into “starvation mode”, a situation where the body starts holding on to fat rather than burning it off. (8) To ward off cellular damage, the faster needs to go slow and prepare the fast with a professional. At the Happiness Medicine Institute, we offer consultations of the best fasting strategies.
Fasting helps improve many biochemical systems in the human body. There’s interplay of hormonal systems like the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), AMPK, leptin and IGF-1, all of which are optimized in the right direction when fasting. It also improves your mitochondrial function, allowing your mitochondria to regenerate. So it’s not just simply turning on an enzyme switch to burn fat; it’s a very complex process that upregulates general health and rejuvenation. Fasting is also great for increased brain power, see the last Exhibit for testimonial support.
Feasting after Fasting
In the same way that millions of years have evolutionarily fine-tuned the body’s survival and energy modes, in the same way, it has designed the body’s feasting modalities. At the Happiness Medicine Institutes, we prefer to start the Feasting with different cleansing herbs, to be followed with blood sugar stabilizing plants, including, but not limited to those below.
This section is under construction
Image credit: D. Wolfe
Happiness Medicine Institute’s Workshop of Fasting
While Longevity Medicine touts diet as a cornerstone of health and longevity, the most current clinical research suggests that results are not solely dependent on what one eats, but also when one eats and stops eating. As an explosion of scientific information has emerged surrounding the benefits of intermittent fasting, Happiness Medicine Institute offers a workshop on different fasting modalities, continuing our tradition of delivering the latest in clinical education, from hydric and intermittent fasting to fasting mimicking diet. Click here for the Institute’s Fasting Workshop.
Guidance on Self-Care Fasting