Here's a topic that's growing "fast", pun intended. There has been much talk in recent years about the potential benefits of fasting. But as with many things, is this just a trend, or a legitimate option for wellness improvement? And what exactly is meant by "fasting". I too have become very interested in it's proposed benefits.
First and foremost, I would recommend speaking with your doctor about it, and reading up on it yourself. Everywhere you look there is available information, but of course, the age old question, how reliable are these resources? People are claiming all sorts of benefits, like renewed energy, gut improvements, sleeping better, mental clarity, and arguably more important than anything, increasing our lifespan.
From personal past experience, one thing I would recommend is to avoid fasts that include juice "cleanses" that have a lot of sugar. These are not healthy fasts, and are they even real fasts? They are pure liquid since the fiber has been removed, and that means that the sugar is all alone, without the fiber companionship, to help regulate blood sugar. I've tried two 3 day juice cleanse fasts. One that was low sugar and an enjoyable, worthwhile experience. I found it fascinating how I felt so hungry and tired the first two days, and then my body adjusted. By day 3, I felt great! The other one, which included too much sugar, made me feel sick, tired, hungry, and overall never wanting to try it again. I really don't even consider these "cleanses" fasts. I consider them "cleanses", a way to detox. They may not be a bad idea for some people, but it's a big difference from IF (intermittent fasting) or, what I call, "TRE" (time restricted eating).
So IF usually refers to eating only on certain days, or regularly skipping days, but eating normal portions of food. There is also something called a fasting mimicking diet (FMD) which allows one to eating a certain amount of calories each day, but still tricking the body into believing it's in a fasting state. TRE is more along the lines of eating in a way that involves a reduced feeding window of 8-12 hours, or more. I often fast from dinnertime until breakfast, which I make sure is at least 12 if not 13-14 hours. Occasionally, I'll push it to 16 hours, but that may only be once a week or so. The concept behind all of these types of caloric restriction is that it forces the body into a survival state. Certain proteins and other elements are forced to defend us by protecting and defending the body from disease. It also promotes something called autophagy which means self eating, or self "cleaning". New stem cells are created to replace older cells that have been deemed unnecessary and been eliminated. These increasingly common beliefs all help the body reverse aging pathways, which may help us live longer.
Fasting has been around for a very long time, and common in all sorts of cultures. It's not a new concept. Many see some form of fasting as a new fad, but it's not at all. It's just becoming more popular and familiar to the average person. Technically, it's been around since the paleolithic ages. It's part of our evolution, which is one reason I believe that the science behind it is worthwhile and has great potential.
As we now know, fasting can mean many things. Stick with a successful plan that you've heard about from trusted sources. I believe fasting to have great potential, and the professional research that's going on is exciting. I've heard scientists interviewed and asked the question, what is the one thing, if only one, you'd recommend to increase your longevity and overall encourage healthy aging? The answer, I've heard on multiple occasions is, "Calorie restriction". Do your own research, find something that may work for you, and no matter what you decide,
ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE STARTING A FAST.
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