Anti-inflammatory benefits of fasting

© May 9th 2019 DrJayDavidson.com This content is distributed and reproduced with the permission of DrJayDavidson.com.

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Article summary:

  • Fasting is a common ritual in religious traditions throughout the world.
  • Fasting leads to reduced disease, improved health, and longer lifespan.
  • The activity of pro-inflammatory proteins, called cytokines, is reduced through fasting.
  • Pro-inflammatory cytokines are observed in many chronic diseases.
  • Pro-inflammatory cytokines initiate and perpetuate pain.
  • Elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines are a known inflammatory risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  • Fasting is associated with the decreased expression of key pro-inflammatory genes.
  • Inflammasome activity is reduced in a fasting state.
  • The anti-inflammatory effects of fasting can improve cognition and preserve tissue and function in the brain and body.
  • Key inflammatory markers including homocysteine and C-reactive protein are found to be significantly reduced in fasting subjects.
  • Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between time-restricted periods of fasting and eating.
  • Intermittent fasting promotes ketosis, an alternative metabolic phase that relies on ketone body-like carbon sources for fuel instead of glucose.
  • Reduction of oxidative stress, regeneration and rejuvenation of stem cells, and increased autophagy result from fasting protocols.
  • There are several different methods of intermittent fasting which involve patterning the day or week into eating and fasting periods.
  • Water fasting is one of the more extreme types of fasting that transitions the metabolism into a more prolonged state of ketosis.
  • Extended water fasts should be done under strict therapeutic supervision.
  • Certain people are not candidates for water-only fasting.
  • During a bone broth fast, bone broth is consumed several times per day instead of solid food.
  • Bone broth fasts are simple and can be customized to meet a person’s needs and goals.
  • Acclimating to a new fasting routine can be made more comfortable and less disruptive by employing specific tips.

FASTING IS A POWERFUL TOOL THAT REDUCES INFLAMMATION, IMPROVES HEALTH, AND SLOWS AGING

Many religions engage in fasting rituals, such as in the Christian season of Lent, Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, and the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan practice includes deep prayer, dawn-to-dusk fasting, and nightly feasts. The intent of fasting is to bring the devotee closer to God and to bring to mind the suffering of the less fortunate. This month of intermittent fasting presents an ideal opportunity to study the health protective effects of fasting in humans.

Fasting is a cutting-edge tool for disease prevention and life extension. Extensive evidence shows that fasting increases longevity, improves health and reduces disease.1 It can:

  • Limit inflammation
  • Provide cardioprotection
  • Improve glucose and lipid levels
  • Reduce oxidative stress
  • Improve metabolism
  • Boost energy levels
  • Enhance mental health
  • Remove stress from the gut and allow it to heal and repair
  • Weaken pro-inflammatory cytokines and immune cells
  • Improve genetic repair mechanisms
  • Stimulate fat burning
  • Stimulate the development of stem cells
  • Promote the release of Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

FASTING AND INFLAMMATION

Pro-inflammatory cytokines. Studies show a link between Ramadan fasting and decreased concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines.2 Cytokines are small proteins released by cells that have an effect on the interactions and communications between cells. Pro-inflammatory cytokines (the opposite of anti-inflammatory cytokines) are observed in many chronic diseases such as metabolic syndrome, cancer, and arthritis.3

Pro-inflammatory cytokines are also known to be involved in both the initiation and the persistence of pain by directly activating neurons in the peripheral and central nervous systems.4 Elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g., IL-6, IL-1β and TNF-α) are a known inflammatory risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Additionally, inflammatory cytokines increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.5

Pro-inflammatory genes. Fasting can reduce the activity of inflammatory-inducing gene pathways in the body. Fasting is associated with the decreased expression of key pro-inflammatory genes.6

Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is an organic compound produced by the body in response to fasting, exercising vigorously, limiting caloric intake, or consuming a ketogenic diet. BHB has been found inhibit the NLRP3 inflammasome.7 NLRP3 is one of a complex set of proteins called the inflammasome. The inflammasome drives the inflammatory response in many chronic illnesses and chronic diseases including autoimmune disorders, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, and other inflammatory disorders.

Neuro-inflammasomes. The inflammasome is considered a key contributor to the development of neuroinflammation. Neuro-inflammasomes are known to amplify inflammation throughout the brain. Fasting regulates the neuroinflammatory pathway and creates anti-inflammatory effects that could improve cognition and preserve tissue and function in the brain and periphery.8

Homocysteine and C-reactive protein are common inflammatory markers. They are found to be significantly reduced in fasting subjects.9

FASTING FOR HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

With the barrage of diet advice available these days, it’s funny to think that good diet advice may actually be simply not to eat. And while that may seem to most people to mean starving yourself or practicing severe caloric restriction, that’s not the focus of fasting. Fasting is defined as abstinence from food or drink for a period of time, especially as a religious observance. So, it mostly comes down to a deliberate intention to change your eating pattern.

When you employ fasting, your new eating pattern designates a specific window of time when you’re not eating. It could be that you fast several consecutive hours of a given day. Another method employs certain days of the week to fast.

INTERMITTENT FASTING

Intermittent fasting is not really a diet, it’s more of an eating pattern. Intermittent fasting cycles between time-restricted periods of fasting and eating. It’s a natural way of eating that actually mimics the traditional eating pattern of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

Like other types of fasting, intermittent fasting promotes ketosis, an alternative metabolic phase that relies less on glucose and more on ketone body-like carbon sources for fuel. When your body is conditioned to use ketones for energy, your metabolic flexibility and energy efficiency improve. You can go longer periods without food without losing muscle mass.

Intermittent fasting can also help to fight back against oxidative stress, a problem that can be significant in a range of conditions, including chronic Lyme disease. For the most part, everyone is exposed to oxidative stress. It’s caused by an imbalance in the body’s production of reactive oxygen. The process of oxidative stress can lead to chronic diseases and even cancers. Additionally, oxidative stress is a causative factor in aging.

Fasting can stimulate autophagy, a sort of “spring cleaning” of your cells, that removes parts that need replacing such as old cell membranes, organelles, and other cellular debris.10

Furthermore, intermittent fasting can trigger the regeneration and rejuvenation of certain stem cells.11

Yet another amazing benefit: Intermittent fasting promotes the secretion of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). HGH is a naturally occurring hormone vital for growth, cell regeneration, and cell reproduction. It is valued for its performance-enhancing and anti-aging properties.

CUSTOMIZABLE FASTING METHODS

Intermittent fasting typically reduces calorie intake as long as eating periods don’t consist of gluttonous intake of poor quality foods. During the fasting periods, you eat either very little or nothing at all. Ideally, eating periods should be filled with a nutrient-filled, clean, and healthy diet. There are several different methods of intermittent fasting which involve patterning the day or week into eating and fasting periods.

The 16/8 Method

Fast within a daily window. This is a pretty straightforward approach. All your daily calories are consumed during an 8-hour window. Fasting is employed for the remaining 16 hours of the day. For instance, food could be consumed during the 8-hours between 11 AM and 7 PM or 10 AM and 6 PM. The intestinal tract is absorbing in evening and expelling in the morning. 12

“Eat-Stop-Eat” Method

Fasting is employed for 24 hours one or two days a week. Eat clean and healthy food during the remaining days of the week. You can plan it so that at least some food is consumed daily. You might plan your 24-hour fast from 8 AM the first day to 8 AM the following day. To ensure you have food, you would eat breakfast before 8 AM the 1st day, and eat as usual after 8 AM the next morning.

The 5:2 Method

Fast on alternate days. Food consumption is restricted to only about 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men on two non-consecutive days of the week. You consume food as you normally would the other 5 days of the week.

Skip-A-Meal Method

A simple technique that you may want to try if you’re new to fasting. It can also help you prepare for a more intense fast. Start by skipping a meal, then gradually lengthen the fasting period.

WATER FASTING

Water fasting entails consuming nothing but pure, clean water for extended periods. It’s one of the more extreme types of fasting that transitions the metabolism into a more prolonged state of ketosis. In ketosis, the body burns fat stores for fuel. Ketosis enables a deeper level of inflammation reduction and cellular repair as the body “reboots” itself.

Some water fasts done under strict therapeutic supervision can extend from 5 to 40 days. Clinical monitoring is recommended so as not to transition from the fasting state into the starvation state. Patients typically go through a refeeding after the fast. A refeeding is a period that usually lasts half the length of the fast.

While water fasting is a great way to starve off pathogens and parasites, be careful. During an extended water fast, patients can present with certain adverse symptoms, including:

  • Foul taste in the mouth
  • Low back pain in early phases (because of referral activity from changes in the kidneys)
  • Skin rash
  • Discharge from mucous membranes
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • A sudden increase in blood pressure upon standing

The secret to minimizing symptoms is to take BioActive Carbon Minerals not only before and after, but especially during the water fast. These plant-based broad spectrum minerals have made it so much easier for myself and others during water fasting.

It’s also important to water fast under the care of a trusted practitioner.

Water-fasting often initiates a classic healing crisis. Chronic problems can become acute. It’s important to differentiate an acute healing response generated by the body from the original issue or illness. They can often present very much the same.

Certain patients are not candidates for water-only fasting, especially those with weak adrenals or severe chronic illness. It could be too aggressive and intense, at least until they’re able to build their bodies up and reach better homeostasis. Water fasting could deplete nutrients that are already depleted and exacerbate a condition. A modified fasting program would be more appropriate for these people.

For someone with a strong constitution or generally stable health, water fasting can be an excellent way to support a parasite cleanse, along with coffee enemas and anti-parasitic herbs. And water fasting doesn’t have to start at 5 days. You can water fast for 24 hours to start, paying close attention to how you feel during that time.

BONE BROTH FASTING

Bone broth is made from animal bones and other animal parts that are usually discarded. It is a nutrient-rich powerhouse that supplies abundant micro and macronutrients. In this fasting application, you consume bone broth several times per day instead of solid food.

Bone broth contains collagen, a type of protein that builds healthy tissues in the body. The heavy collagen load in bone broth builds and repair tissues, including the muscles, digestive system, and gut lining. The collagen in bone broth can also contribute to healthy, glowing skin. Vital amino acids in bone broth can boost memory, cognition, and sleep. An amino acid in bone broth, called glycine, can inhibit both local and systemic inflammation.13

Bone broth fasts are fairly simple to follow. They can be customized to fit your personal needs and goals. Ideally, you should obtain bones and animal parts form organic, pasture-raised sources. Making the broth yourself will ensure it is high-quality and not overly expensive. Here are some helpful tips for bone broth fasting:

  • Fast for 3 to 4 days, an amount of time that allows for killing off harmful bacteria in the gut and repairing the GI tract.
  • You may want to supplement with probiotics and fermented foods to provide healthy bacteria for the gut repopulation.
  • Consume between 3 to 4 quarts of bone broth daily. Drink broth throughout the day. About 12 ounces is an appropriate serving. You can add salt, pepper, vinegar, and seasonings to enhance the taste.
  • Ideally, you should eliminate problematic and inflammatory foods during the fast. Include healthy fats, clean proteins, and organic fruits and veggies.
  • You can also practice intermittent fasting during a bone broth fast.

Golden Nugget Tip: if you are struggling with chronic illness and/or your liver bile duct area is stressed out, you will do the best if you let the bone broth cool down in the refrigerator and scoop the fat off the top before warming it up and consuming it.

HOW TO EASE THE CHALLENGE AND DISCOMFORT OF FASTING

Changing your eating routine can be a struggle. We are engrained with a three-meal-a-day mentality. The idea of restricting food probably sounds unpleasant and difficult. Your physical body acclimates to your eating schedule, so most likely, it will tell you when it’s expecting food. Here are some tips to minimize disruption and discomfort as you acclimate to a new fasting routine:

Prepare Yourself

Get ready to make the change. It’s a good idea to visit your healthcare professional to evaluate your body’s readiness to adapt to fasting.

Then, plan out your schedule. Look at your work, school, or social schedules and devise an action plan. You’ll want to schedule your meal times for when you aren’t fasting. You may want to log it in a food diary.

Additionally, let family members who you take your meals with know about the planned changes. Planning ahead for grocery shopping, meal prep time, and cooking schedules may also be helpful.

Commit to It

Hold yourself accountable. Know that this new lifestyle choice has the potential to revitalize your health and improve your overall well-being. Meditation, positive affirmations, and EFT Tapping are just a few things you can use to reinforce your commitment.

Drink Water and Stay Hydrated

Since fasting helps to detox the body, drinking water before, during, and directly after fasting periods can help flush toxins. Furthermore, water helps curb hunger pangs. You could also try some carbonated seltzer water for variety. Flavors are okay, just make sure it doesn’t have added sugars.

Taking mineral supplements can help ease the transition to a fasting routine. BioActive Carbon Minerals by Microbe Formulas are active and easily absorbed minerals in the right ratio.

Consume Nutrient-Rich Foods

If you’re not water fasting or bone broth fasting, load up on fruits and especially, vegetables. Foods loaded with nutrients can help you feel full longer. And the increased fiber in fruits and veggies will increase that “full” feeling and take longer to digest.

Clean, healthy fats including nuts, avocados, and coconut oil send a message to your brain that tells it you are satiated.14 Healthy fats trigger production of a compound called oleoylethanolamide (OEA) that increases the feeling of fullness and regulates hunger.

Avoid Overeating

Be careful not to load up on extra calories. Don’t buy into the misconception that it’s okay to eat whatever and however much you want during non-fasting periods. Remember to manage portion size, as well.

Stay Busy

Boredom can lead to unintended eating, particularly of unhealthy food. Distract yourself with exercise, home projects, quality time with friends and family, etc. Also, be mindful of your mental state, especially if you tend to eat for comfort when you’re stressed, anxious, or depressed.

If at first, you don’t succeed…well, you know the old adage. Fasting is difficult, so don’t feel discouraged if you’re challenged with it. Just do your best. It typically gets easier as your mind and body become accustomed to the new routine. Stay the course and keep your eyes on the prize.

 

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