What is it and why does anyone even do it?
We live in a society where fasting has become semi-common between certain people groups and some cultures. Fasting benefits your health as well as your spirituality. It has profound impacts on the depth of health and spirituality you experience on a day to day basis.
Today we will be looking at some of the words related to fasting for health purposes. Below the shortlist of words, you will read about my experience with fasting.
Fasting- The act of abstaining from food intake (or your intake of particular foods).
Glucose- It is the main type of sugar in the blood and is the major source of energy for the body's cells. Glucose mainly comes from the foods we eat.
Growth Hormone- Human growth hormone, a peptide hormone secreted by the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland. It stimulates the growth of essentially all tissues of the body, including bone.
Autophagy- Autophagy is the body's way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells. “Auto” means self and “phagy” means eat. So the literal meaning of autophagy is “self-eating.”
Ketones- Ketone is a chemical that the liver creates when it breaks down fat to use for energy. The body does this when it doesn’t have enough glucose to convert to energy.
Antioxidant- A substance that reduces damage due to oxygen, such as that caused by free radicals. Well-known antioxidants include enzymes and other substances, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene, which are capable of counteracting the damaging effects of oxidation.
Free radicals- They are atoms that contain an unpaired electron. Due to this lack of a stable number of outer shell electrons, they are in a constant search to bind with another electron to stabilize themselves— a process that can cause damage to DNA and other parts of human cells.
Intermittent fasting- It is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. It does not say anything about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them. There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods.
Short-term fast- Fasting for a period of 24- 72 hours (1 - 3days).
Prolonged Fasting- Is fasting for an extended period; usually anywhere from 4 to 7 consecutive days.
Energy- The strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity.
Vitalise- To make vital, living, or alive; to be given life or vigour.
My experience with fasting.
I was first introduced to fasting about 7 years ago, at first I was sceptical about it. Let’s be honest, who would want to voluntarily stop eating? The scientific data seemed too good to be true, could anything have such profound effects on your body? As I did research on it and read people's testimonies on what they experienced while fasting I became more and more interested. After about a month of mental preparation, I finally decided I could try a 24-hour water fast.
At the 20-hour mark of my fast, I suddenly realised how good I felt, I had a strange spike in energy and I felt happier. For someone who has been battling chronic depression for all of his life, feeling happy was a big deal. I felt so good that I decided to start doing a 24-hour water fast on a weekly basis.
Within the first couple of months, my memory drastically improved, my well being improved, overall I was much happier and energised. Every winter I used to become sick with the flu and would need to take days off of work to recover. That winter I became sick but not to the extent that I had to take days off.
Four years later I was introduced to intermittent fasting. This had many of the same benefits as my weekly fast, it just started happening daily and no longer just once a week. This sped up my healing process, it boosted my brain function and vitalised me. Your body uses a lot of energy to process food and get it digested, while intermittent fasting your body has a certain period of time where it can rest from these functions. It then uses the energy to build and repair its vital functions.
Two years after intermittent fasting I came across studies that showed what benefits short-term fasting has on the body, I was instantly excited about it and had to try it. I did a three-day water fast, the first day was easy, by now I was used to doing one-day fasts. The second day I was ready to eat anything I saw, about halfway into the second day the hunger started to fade into the background. Then on day three I woke up and felt rather good but a bit low on energy, by the end of the day, I was so energised that I could go run a marathon.
What happens when I fast?
As said before, the body is a well designed clever mechanism. Without me fully understanding it, the following was happening in my body:
After 12 hours of fasting, your body starts to secrete growth hormone, this is what helped me gain some memory and repair what was damaged.
After 18 hours of fasting, you reach autophagy, this is when your body starts to recycle damaged cells. Your body uses what is possible and excretes what it can not use. This built up my immune system and kept me healthy for longer.
After about 24 hours of fasting, you reach ketosis, this is when your liver has to produce an alternate fuel for your body. It is a better quality fuel than what our bodies usually run on.
Also after about 24 hours of fasting, your body starts to produce its own antioxidants. These are substances that may protect your cells against free radicals, which may play a role in heart disease, cancer and many other diseases.
Our bodies were designed to run on a balance of glucose and ketones. If you are low on energy, if you struggle with disease, if you want to improve your quality of life, think of fasting. At first, this might be a bit hard due to the fact that these systems have become dormant. After you start stimulating your body to use these functions it will become easier and easier. I have witnessed it being done by young and old over and over again. With the right help and motivation, you will be able to do it in no time.
Do not just take my word for it, do your research, speak to people who have experience with it and knowledge of it. Your life will never be the same, believe me, my life has drastically changed for the better.
Get an idea of what it could do for you.
And remember to enjoy the journey you are about to embark on.