So What’s the Deal With Fasting?

Dr Timothy Jack, Chiropractor

This is a topic that seems to be all the rage in health media today. With such dietary options in the press as the 5:2 diet (eating for 5 days and fasting or calorie restricting for 2 days), ‘intermittent fasting’, and the Ketogenic Diet currently having a lot of hype behind them, fasting is a hot topic.

What is it Exactly?

Fasting is the act of going for extended periods of time (sometimes more than a day) without eating food, and often just drinking water. This allows your body’s vital energies to redistribute themselves from masticating and digesting food (an often energy-intensive job), to the job of healing and repairing the internal structures of your body. Michael Mosley made a great documentary with the BBC about fasting called ‘Eat, Fast and Live Longer’ where he delved into the science and the research behind it. It’s been shown to be an excellent way to decrease your metabolic age (a number based on how effectively your body chemistry functions), and improve your health andlongevity by drastically lowering the chances of having both heart disease and diabetes, which currently account for around 40% of the deaths in western society. Both fasting and caloric restriction (having a limited amount of food during the day) have been shown to help build new brain cells, and repair the ones that we currently have. Interestingly, these practices have also been shown to help rebuild the body’s immune system.

Three-day fasts have been shown to turn on genes in the body that hugely increase the function and efficiency of the immune system, creating a system of ‘endogenous antioxidants’, that don’t get activated by any other function outside of fasting. The endogenous antioxidant system has been shown to have great effects in helping the body fight cancer and keep the brain functioning healthily. Interestingly, once this system is turned on, it stays on. So, fasting seems to flick a switch inside us that stimulates our body to move up a gear to greater ongoing function. It’s not necessarily easy, but the effects of fasting upon body spirit and mind have been shown since the beginning of written history, with references to fasting found in every major religious text in the world. If you’re looking for a new approach to health that’s thousands of years old and can help you be here for a long time and a good time, seek some professional advice and guidance and try fasting. It may just change your life for the better.

For Further Info Check out:
-    Documentary: Dr. Michael Mosley (2012) ‘Eat, Fast and Live Longer’,
-    Podcast: The Tim Ferriss Show - Dr. Dominic D’Agostino ‘Disease Prevention, Cancer, and Living Longer’,
-    Free PDF (download online): Upton Sinclair - ‘The Fasting Cure’
-    Book: Paul and Patricia Bragg ‘The Miracle of Fasting’
-    Book: Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer ‘ The Fast Diet’