Intermittent fasting is not just about losing weight. That is a nice side effect if you do need to lose weight, which is most of us in North America. However, intermittent fasting is great for many other important things to:
- Regulating organ functions, including hormone levels and blood sugar
- Autophagy and detox
- Mindfulness and emotional detachment from food
- Food reduction for health and the pocket book
First of all, everything in nature has a cycle. Nature itself is a cycle, of creation, growth, resting, aging and dying. Without getting techie, just remember that during rest cells can regenerate and everything can find it’s balance. Many people report that blood sugar levels decrease and this helps to prevent insulin resistance. Blood pressure, inflammation and cholesterol have all been reported to be lowered. I believe also that while fasting, the nervous system can also rest. It does not have to process or react to chemicals, food sensitivities or intolerance, and so everything simplifies, calms down and balances out.
Autophagy is when a cell ‘eats itself up’. A certain amount of autophagy, especially certain cells we don’t need lingering around is, a natural and healthy process in cell development. Imagine it is a form of detox which also helps to strengthen your immune system. Cells which may undergo autophagy are varied depending on other factors such as exercise, nutrition, drugs, etc. The key is that when you stimulate autophagy, you need to create an environment for healthy cells to take the place of the dead ones. This is a complex issue, but generally understand that every cell in your body, healthy or not, has a life cycle and when it is not in the stage of being productive and efficient, it must come to end. With death, comes regeneration of new healthy cells.
Fasting for a minimum of half the day can be therapeutic because you are exercising strength and will power. Honestly once you fast regularly, it is very easy to not eat for this duration and will power is not an issue. But if you are craving all the time or worse, just eating without being hungry, chances are you are emotionally attached to food, or using food to distract yourself from boredom, or whatever other emotion you are uncomfortable with. Fasting can help you to become more mindful of your situation and when you do eat, it is that much more enjoyable.
And lastly, with a shorter window to eat food, you may be eating less food, hopefully. Eating less calories is said to extend your life. We really don’t need to be eating all the time and so much food. So once you feel 80% full, stop eating. This reduction of food will put more money into your pocket book and put less burden on the planet. You could then use that extra money towards higher quality foods: nutritious nutrient dense foods such as fresh organic fruits, vegetables, seeds and grains.
To start intermittent fasting, I recommend you go for 12-14 hours each day. I find most women find this method easiest. Regular fasting is easier to make a lifestyle routine when it’s daily also. You can increase to 16-18 when you feel like it, and you can always go back to 12 or 14 as well. I found that some months during my menstrual cycle, 16 hours of fasting was too much and I needed to go back to 12. This is alright. It’s important to listen to your body, be gentle and intuitive with what you need (not crave). So say you eat your last meal at 6pm, start your fast at 7 and then eat your next meal at 9am. That would be 14 hours of fasting. I have some clients who I’ve suggested this to, and they reported that their blood sugar is more stable and lower. If you do take insulin or other Rx drugs, make sure you talk with your doctor so that adjustments and changes can be made accordingly. Let me know how it goes.