Sign up FAST! Login

Feast then famine – how fasting might make our cells more resilient to stress


Stashed in: #health, Stress, Awesome, Nutrition!, health!, @emilykatemoon, Supplements, Vinegar!, Weight Loss, Fasting

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Although fasting seems to help our cells combat damage from this process, it isn’t clear exactly how that happens.

Free radicals can be generated by poorly functioning mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cell). The switch between eating normally and fasting causes cells to temporarily experience lower-than-usual levels of glucose (blood sugar), and they are forced to begin using other sources of less readily available energy, like fatty acids. This can cause the cells to turn on survival processes to remove the unhealthy mitochondria and replace them with healthy ones over time, thus reducing the production of free radicals in the long-term.

It might also be true that fasting itself results in a small increase in free radical production early on during fasting.

The cells may respond by increasing their levels of natural anti-oxidants to fight against future free radicals. And although free radicals are commonly seen as harmful because of their ability to damage our cells, they might be important short-term signals for our body in this case, triggering cells to cope better with more severe stresses that may come in the future.

One salient point: taking extra antioxidant vitamins actually PREVENTED all of the good effects of intermittent fasting!

Thanks for pointing that out, Joyce. If you're gonna fast then fast. No vitamins!

what about apple cider vinegar?  can we fast and also drink that tonic?

I'm guessing no: Fasting is fasting. 

But I haven't seen anything that directly mentions fasting AND apple cider vinegar. 

Guess you can't read, because the article links to stuff about intermittent fasting that EXPLICITLY says you should eat ~500 calories a day if you're female.

The linked article doesn't say anything about that.

But it does include a link to this website, which includes the 500 number:

http://thefastdiet.co.uk/how-many-calories-on-a-non-fast-day/

From the FAQ on that site: "[On Fast Days] the basic principle is to eat foods that are high in protein and fibre, as these are the most satiating. That means fish, meat, vegetables."

This does not sound like fasting to me. This sounds like a normal diet. 

i love how spicy you are, halibutboy!  haha!

and i agree that a little food is not fasting, it's light eating.

i was just wondering if apple cider counted as food.  seems to me that it would be a great thing to do while fasting, but i don't know all the chemistry involved.

looks like rob does, though...

wait for it...

No Emily, we can't.  Well one can do that, I meant to say "No, it's not fasting when you take anything else into your body but for pure water and clean air.  It's dieting."  And our bodies don't transform into a fasting state until we go completely without any external nutrition in any form.

There is so much comprehensive benefit available in the fasting state that's it's not quite correct to describe it as one thing or another, or to even care much about what it does or doesn't do to our cells in an abstract, laboratory let's-focus-on-one-variable-and-decide-value way.  

Our immediate gains are much more tangible, dramatic, enduring and progressively valuable, but these only arise by simply having the direct, personal experience and then cultivating fasting as a periodic practice in your life.

We could tout how fasting increases human growth hormone factor, how it enables our livers to become vitally active  when glycogen shortage activates a liver–brain–adipose neural axis that has an important role in switching the fuel source from glycogen to triglycerides under prolonged fasting conditions, and blah blah blah... but really, who cares:

You just feel phucking fantastic after a fast, and better and better again and again!  

And don't forget – the most important, never mentioned and often most difficult part of any fast is breaking the fast correctly with the best choice, volume and frequency of foods so as to continue the therapeutic effects gained.  Always.

So explore and have fun and feel much better along the way by fasting.  It's your body/mind: you'll never get to know it and enjoy it any better than when you fast and renew yourself.

So what should a fast be broken with?

How about with some SCIENCE?!?! :P

Yeah, science!

breaking bad jesse gif | Tumblr

Rob, what's the longest you've fasted?  Spare no deets.

28 days and nights.  The last couple weeks I was a veritable master sommelier of water and could tell you in a blind tasting what was Evian, Fiji, and etc.

 Broke my fast on the 29th day with a two week recovery diet. My very first "meal" to break the fast was simple and more than sufficient: 2 oz of several raw vegetable greens (romaine lettuce, parsley, cucumber, zucchini, celery) all blended together like gazpacho.

My palate was so clear and sensitive I didn't need anything but the raw vegetables for an ongoing tongue-gasm of near infinite taste sensations – awesome!

That said, no way I would advise any of you to go for 28 days if you haven't fasted enough before on yor own to know what to expect from your body and the world around you.  At the very most, I would start with 9 or 10 days – at the very most!

Why do I warn about going longer?  Because once you start fasting some counter-intuitive things happen and you shift:

– You loose your appetite and don't want food.  I was actually cooking meals for my friends while fasting and didn't eat a lick – I could smell things beyond perfectly and they confirmed my skill by tasting it for me.

– You get more energy once you're fully into high ketosis, or mobilizing adipose tissues and consuming your own fat for fuel as converted fatty acids.  Fat is where it's at!  With twice the caloric energy per gram than carbs or protein it's what our bodies naturally prefer and our original natal metabolism at birth until we're weaned.  We feel like a baby again!

– You realize you can fast longer without freaking out and every day fasting you actually feel better than the day before.  Of all the fasting I've done there seem to be some generalized transformation thresholds of continuous fasting whereby one experiences significant order of magnitude changes that we simply can't get by an incremental or additive periodic approach.  And I've noticed these thresholds in myself and population n = 10+ others that I've guided in their fasts:

Threshold 1 is 1 to 3 days fasting (or intermittent fasting).  This gets your diet into the caloric restriction range that longevity theorists tout – if you do it weekly.  Fasting a few days once in awhile will irritate the living crap out of you because you'll only reach the cusp of full-on ketosis and the benefits of a full-on fasting metabolism (unless you're a veteran faster and/or on a ketogenic diet).  Women on average get to full ketosis 24 hours quicker than men, for some reason.  So this shorter period of fasting, especially for novices, is mostly all irritation and little perceived gain (there is gain, but it's subtle and longitudinally hidden over time), which is why most people fear, hate or simply can't handle fasting without feeling immediate and direct benefits.  Which you don't often get here.

Threshold 2 is roughly 3 to 5+ days fasting. This gets your body into the full fasting state and requires a recovery diet to break the fast well.  Recovery diets are usually half the number of days fasted (plus 1 day if less than two weeks fasting) and are structured to not create putrefying food in the digestive system, burn out and overstimulate the palate, improve gut micro-flora and fauna diversity and cultivate dense nutrient and good eating habits.

Threshold 3 is roughly 7+ days fasting.  This is where your body (if you're fully convalescing and not using your increased energy to work or do other things) starts to address and heal chronic issues and renew itself deeply (this is not a scientific term, but increased levels of human growth hormone factor, added energy from no thermogenic waste in digestion and endocrine system harmony are pretty friggin awesome to feel).  You might also notice a seemingly sedimentary excavation effect of newest to oldest insults and injuries being exhumed, felt again as they're being addressed, and improved until all previous symptoms disappear.  This is more thoroughly accomplished the longer you fast and perfected when fasting until completion.  Fasting until completion means fasting until your real hunger returns.  It's a novel experience for people to feel real hunger in the first world these days...

Fasting used to be a very common and well-respected injunction even up until mid-part part of our last century.  My mentor, Dr. Stanley Bass, had a several hundred room fasting sanitarium in upstate New York and had fasted tens of thousands of people over his career.  The longest documented fast under such observed care conditions was 93 days.  But that was a big fat dude.  Skinny people like me at 157 lbs can go for 40 days without medical problems, as weight loss drops to only a few ounces per day... but then you're taking some serious time off from social life with a recovery diet that, even though easy to follow, few can appreciate and you'll suffer some very interesting prejudices in social settings.

To fast and eat well these days means to be an outlaw and an outlier.  It's not for everyone even though everyone could benefit from fasting.

If you're curious or interested, stick to more than 5 days and 10 days or less and you'll be delighted – that's a good sweet spot for fasting once or twice a year.  And then after that fasting for one day a week will be an easy and delightful little tonic to your body/mind and not a discipline or burden of conscience.

Thank you!  Good information.  I've done 10 days and I think I rid myself of chronic strep throat infections.  Is that crazy talk?

No, it's not crazy talk.  That's an observable and repeatable fact... or science, in other words.

It doesn't sound crazy but that kind of fasting is very difficult for most people.

I think most of us just need to think about what is sustainable over the long term for us.

Every person is different. 

The world is going to hell in a hand basket because most of us just keep doing what is sustainable for ourselves over the long run... well, there ain't much left of the natural and wild world that is sustainable for us given what most of us accept as our daily choices.  And I really don't care how good our AI or VR gets – such a synthetic prosthetic existence is not the kind of living that will ever excite me.

If we want to sustain or even upgrade our natural world and our own natures we have to make fundamental changes for the better in our personal lives.  

We are all in our greatest vanities of everybody is different ways contributing to climate change, antibiotic resistance pandemics, the onslaught of early onset diabetes and obesity in as simple a manner as our paying for the goods in economic systems where foolish consumerism is what drives negative impacts to scale.

That fact that every person is different is utterly meaningless to our world and our future – many diverse peoples have in the past and many can in the present act in similar ways for the better good of ourselves and all, regardless whatever individual idiosyncrasies or vanities may seem precious.

So skip a few meals, you're head won't explode...and then eat way more fat when you're not fasting –  regardless how different you think you are:

http://publications.credit-suisse.com/tasks/render/file/index.cfm?fileid=9163B920-CAEF-91FB-EE5769786A03D76E

You can find an interesting discussion of the study here:  http://www.crsociety.org/topic/11110-study-practicality-of-intermittent-fasting-in-humans-and-its-effect-on-oxidative-stress-and-genes-related-to-aging-and/  I found it when I was looking for an ungated version of the study (which I haven't found).

Yeah I haven't found an ungated version either.

Seems like it could extend life but it's still unknown. 

You May Also Like: