No, not forever. Not even for that long. In some cases, not even for a full day!
I’m talking about fasting. Let’s start off easy.
If you’re not familiar, this basically means you skip breakfast. To take the explanation a little further, you only allow yourself a specific window of time of the day in which you eat. And it is best for that time to be later in the day. For example, Noon-8pm or 1pm to 7pm. Don’t do 8am to 4pm. It won’t work. You’ll get hungry and cave.
Why is this good for you?
The longer you go without eating, the lower your blood sugar becomes, insulin spikes level off and ketones go up (this depends on other factors, most notably how much sugar you’ve consumed recently).
With less insulin, your cells are less likely to become insulin resistant (because they are not constantly being bombarded with insulin) and the less likely you are to develop Type II Diabetes.
Intermittent fasting makes your body quicker and more efficient at managing oxidative stress. Translation: you detox more easily. All sorts of compounds–natural and synthetic–cause the buildup of free radicals in your body. When these free radicals (often simply unstable elements and molecules) decay, they release radiation that causes the effects of aging, degenerative disorders and even cancer (as well as heart attack and stroke).
Intermittent Fasting reduces inflammation. And inflammation is at the root of more diseases than I have time to mention.
But what if you were to take it further?
Four-day liquid fasts
One of the first things I have most of my patients do when they come to me is a four-day liquid fast. That liquid might be bone broth. It might be protein shakes. It might simply be water. But this is just about the most powerful thing I regularly recommend to those coming to me for help.
There are so many reasons:
- It gives time for the gut to heal – Most people (Americans?) have a leaky gut. It’s what happens when you eat a lot of processed foods, pesticide-soaked veggies, antibiotic-stuffed meat, sugar and take medications. So yeah, most of us. The cells responsible for extracting nutrients from foods in the gut start spreading apart, leaving gaps in between where unfiltered food molecules and toxins pass directly into the bloodstream. This results in inflammation throughout the body, all sorts of inappropriate immune responses and weight gain. All it takes is a four-day break and those gaps between the cells heal. And it REALLY helps if your liquid of choice is bone broth if healing a leaky gut is your main concern.
- It resets your relationship to food – Let’s be honest, the reason most of us have health issues is because we can’t (or won’t) take control of our relationship to food. A successful 4-day liquid fast will force you to re-evaluate that relationship and put you squarely in the drivers seat.
- It clears the skin – Digestion takes enormous amounts of energy. That’s energy that has to be redirected away from regeneration projects, namely the skin. Patients who do a 4-day liquid fast end up with glowing, clear skin. This makes them more confident, which in turn, makes them more successful with their health efforts in the long term.
Going even further and Autophagy
Autophagy means, literally, “self-eating.” When the body’s sugar stores run low, or they become depleted, the body begins to eat itself at the cellular level. While that may sound gruesome, it’s actually a good thing because the parts being eaten are dead, damaged or deformed. The body will eat pre-cancerous cells, redundant cells, damaged organelles within the cells and bits and pieces of dangerous materials floating around the body.
This discovery is so significant, the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded to the guy who discovered it, Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi. The body begins the process of autophagy even during an intermittent fasting period (After 16-18 hours) but to extend that to 10 days (or even more) enhances the process.
Why is this good? One of the three main causes of disease is toxic stress (the other two being inflammation and neurological disfunction). Autophagy basically clears you of toxic stress.
Don’t be afraid to NOT eat. Yes, it is uncomfortable–for a time–but every one of us needs to do it once in a while. For me, I do a four-day liquid fast once per season and skip eating altogether at least once a week. And if I can do it, so can you.