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fasting for health?

Beet juice for fasting

fasting for health?

I have read in a few different places that fasting can be good for your health. The first time I came across it was in the Cancer to Wellness book, where the author talks about supplying your body with juice for 30 days to give your body the space and energy to heal.

Beet juice for fastingPolly Noble, the perennial cancer survivor often goes on juice fasts to treat her recurring bouts of cancer, and she is still alive! She has beat cancer more than three times. It keeps coming back for her, and she continues to stave it off, I hope she is successful again, I would miss her.

The logic seems to be, that it takes so much energy to digest food, and if you are just drinking juice, or not eating anything for a spell, then all that energy can be devoted to healing your body.

You are also eliminating toxins from your body during those times.

5:2 diet

Then I happened across the 5:2 diet, popularised by Dr Michael Mosely. The principle of this diet, which has become very popular indeed, is that you can eatĀ anything you likeĀ for five days of the week, and eat 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men, on two non-consecutive days of the week.

People have lost a ton of weight on this diet, and apparently you get used to the hungry feeling two days a week. I guess I just wonder how sustainable it is. I really want to find an eating regime that truly is a lifestyle. It concerns me on the other five days you can eat whatever.

However, on those two days of fasting you are not going to consume all the nutrients that are required over the course of a day, even if you might get them over the course of a week.

It sounds a bit good to be true. I feel like with most of these diets, that you do them, lose weight, and then when you return to eating normally, you just put all the weight back on again, which is especially true in high protein or paleo diets, which are surely unsustainable.

Green smoothie calories

papaya and pineapple with green smoothie in blender jugI did a little calculation about the glowing green smoothie today, to see, how many calories this drink is. I feel like it is the corner stone of any diet that I hope to devise, since when I don’t drink it, I feel so many cravings for greens and fruit and I feel so dehydrated without it.

I wouldn’t recommend a diet that couldn’t encompass it. So here is a little calculation:

2 cups of spinach – 10 calories, 2 cups of lettuce – 20 calories, 1 cup of celery – 20 calories, (and here is where it comes unstuck), 1 cup of pineapple – 78 calories, 1 apple – 116 calories, 1 banana – 105 calories, juice of half a lemon – 5 calories, coriander – 6 calories. This adds up to: approximately 350 calories. So on a fasting day, you would have only 150 calories for the rest of the day!

The only possibility is to have a liver cleansing smoothie on those days: spinach, lettuce, celery, 1 cup of carrot – 52 calories, parsley. This would total approximately: 100 calories, leaving you with 400 spare.

Evidence for health benefits of fasting

I just want to do some more research into the idea that fasting is good for you. There is some evidence for the fact that it might be good for you. A variety of animals have had their lifespans extended by as much as 30 % by eating 30 – 40 % less calories, and in a study on rats that is regularly cited, rats that fasted on alternate days had the same lifespans as those with calorie controlled diets. (1) They had lower blood sugar and insulin markers than the other rats, and there is some evidence that these kinds of diets can reduce cholesterol overall. (1)

Some studies of people who fast for Ramadan have shown that these fasts can reduce blood sugar and cholesterol also. (2) They can also reduce the incidence of IGF 1 – or the growth hormone, which is thought to contribute to age related diseases like cancer and heart disease. (3)

There is also some evidence that chemotherapy can be more effective if fasting occurs during the treatments. (4)

Of course, fasting is not for everyone, and can be dangerous for some people, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, those who are suffering from malnutrition, diabetes, people with a history of cardiac problems, or kidney problems. (5)

Starvation response

There is also some evidence that if you fast, your body can find it harder to lose weight on subsequent eating regimes. (6) It must be the starvation response.

I am not sure that I am convinced. I know how poor concentration can be if you are hungry. It seems like a nearly impossible task.

However, many sources say that periods of intermittent fasting can be good for your health, and so I think I am going to give this some more consideration! I have been sitting here this afternoon, considering the pros and cons, and have decided there is enough evidence for the fact that intermittent fasting can be good for your health, that it might be worth some further experimentation.

There was one additional problem, in that the people who did fast intermittently were less likely to continue with this eating plan. (7) Where does that leave you, I wonder?

References

1. How intermittent fasting may help you live a longer and healthier life. Scientific American [Internet] 2013; [cited 2013 Oct 15] Available from: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-intermittent-fasting-might-help-you-live-longer-healthier-life

3. The power of intermittent fasting. BBC News Health. [Internet] BBC; 2013; [cited 2013 Oct 15] Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19112549

5. Susan Seliger. Is fasting healthy? [Internet] WebMD; 2013 [cited 2013 Oct 15] Available from: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/is_fasting_healthy

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