Intermittent fasting has been getting a lot of attention over the last few years, so I’d like to share my perspective on this health practice.
Fasting simply means that you are abstaining from something for a period of time, and it is often seen as a sacrifice.
To see how fasting works, let’s think about the human body as a factory.
A factory has a mechanism to bring in raw materials. A factory has a way to process those raw materials into the parts that will be used for the product the factory is designed to make. Then you have the final product that is sent out to various locations for use. Now you have all the waste products, both liquid and solid, that are created from the materials processing and it have to be dealt with or eliminated.
Now let’s return our thinking to the human body.
Imagine that every one of the trillions of cells in your body is a factory that has to process, produce and eliminate materials. If you are frequently putting food (raw materials) in your body, your body has to process, utilize and eliminate all these materials. Your body doesn’t have an automatic bypass that leaves everything in your gut. A great innovation of the human body is how it effectively processes the raw materials you put into it. However, it’s a lot of effort to keep a factory working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Maybe the factory – your body – could use a break. That’s where fasting comes in. By not continuously inputting materials (food), you are giving your body the time and energy to effectively process, use and eliminate the materials you’ve already supplied.
Consider these options for fasting from food:
- Basic fast: 12 hours. After dinner, you skip the midnight snack, go to sleep and break your fast with breakfast. Example: 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
- Intermediate fast: At least once a week, fast for an 18-hour period. Stay hydrated, but do not eat food from dinner until lunchtime or into the afternoon the following day. I have patients who do an 18-hour fast every night. They are getting all their nutrition in a shorter timeframe and they are very healthy and highly functional.
- 24-hour fast: Eventually work your way up to one day a week where you can spend 24 hours fasting.
- Highest level of fasting: Fast for 48-72 hours. Take an occasional weekend to recalibrate. This would not be the weekend to visit relatives or entertain but to focus on fasting.
People who regularly spend 12-24 hours fasting at least once a week with the occasional weekend of fasting have better health. Fasting let’s your body process what’s there. The more we keep shoving in for the body to deal with, the more stressed and backed up it can get.
Fasting can be a simple practice to integrate with other healthy strategies for lifelong health. Text our office at 325-268-0650 to learn more.