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First things first. Head straight over to our V&S TV episode of the fortnight in FASTING: The Truth Behind the Health Craze where we debunk some fasting myths based on our personal experience and point you in the direction of some of the excellent research done by well-known doctors and researchers in this space.
I believe Dr.Michael VanDershelden @ in his excellent book: The Scientific Approach To Intermittent Fasting sums fasting up the best. ‘The fact of the matter is that our body was built for periodic cycles of feast and famine. This mimics the eating habits of our ancestors. The evolutionary explanation for this is humans and other animals have fasted intermittently for much of their time on Earth.‘ As a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences notes, ‘The most common eating pattern in modern societies, three meals plus snacks every day, is abnormal from an evolutionary perspective.’ Research shows that many biological repair and rejuvenation processes take place when there is an absence of food. Eating all day never allows your body the time to clean out all the garbage and regenerate.
If you want more articles and links to some of the best articles, videos and research then head on over to the bottom of this article.
There goes a saying. If you have a big enough ‘WHY‘ then you’ll figure out the ‘HOW.‘
What’s ‘my why?” Some people have a life goal to buy a sailboat and roam the open seas, others want to lose 5kgs to hit their perfect weight. Yet others want to travel the world and experience different cultures, whilst some want to be famous rockstars! My number one life goal has always been to live to a 100 years old. I don’t want to be a centurion who is grumpy, not sound of mind and body, but one who is the still the last one to leave the dancefloor, does a headstand for 3 minutes everyday and can out-sparkle and out-wit the best of them. I picture myself surrounded by family and friends with a big cake, a glass or two of bubbles or red wine dancing the night away celebrating my 100th birthday.
As the saying goes: ‘youth is wasted on the young‘ and I wholeheartedly agree. Why would anyone be written off as some middle ager in their 40s? I think it’s absurd how we relegate older, wiser people to the bottom of the heap, when in reality it is they who’ve truly experienced life and understand its magic and mystery. I’m 42 and I truly believe that I’m not even half way through yet (I’ve got old bones) and I’m certainly not hanging up my desires, dreams and dancing shoes for anyone just yet!
Some of the most inspiring people I’ve met along lifes’ way so far and whom have blown me away with their sparkling eyes, healthy, fit bodies and unbelievable energy, are many of my yoga teachers who have shown me that age is seriously just a number in your head. I believe that how we live our lives is all about our attitude to it, our choice in how we go about living it. Do we resign ourselves to the fact that we’ll end up with stress-related backache and other common diseases that require weekly trips to the doctors to get our prescription drugs? Or do we create our own reality and start taking some real responsibility for our own health & wellbeing? The latter means looking after our mind and emotions as much as our physical bodies. Besides they’re all connected anyway so if you ignore one you’ll affect the others. I know which one I choose. I’d prefer to create my own reality thank you!
This is why I got so interested in ‘fasting‘ in the first place. For me it was about finding ways that would help me live a happy, love-filled, adventurous, meaningful life into my 90s and beyond. I became interested in all things ‘longevity and ageing‘ And so here I am. A true fasting experimenter. I’ve researched and tried many ways of fasting to see how my mind, body and emotions responded: from water fasts (hardcore and I certainly don’t recommend unless you’re a veteran faster); the 5:2 diet; to 7 day green juice cleanses; 24hr weekly fasts; macrobiotic 10 day brown rice fasts; the lemon / cayenne fast; you name it I’ve tried it time and time again.
In Ayurveda (the sister science to yoga) they encourage you to do a spring clean (basically a fast of your choice) during the equinox when seasons change from winter to spring – summer to autumn. When I’ve done that the spiritual and emotional cleanse has been far better than anything physical I’ve experienced.
To be clear – on any fast – you’re going to lose water weight and maybe you’ll have some weight loss if you do it over some time; like with intermittent fasting. This is the fasting technique which really works for me and I’ve been doing for nearly a decade. Though not just now as I am currently 17.5 weeks pregnant, so instead I seem to be obsessed with eating ice lollies like they’re going out of fashion at the coldest time of year. For me weight loss was never a reason for fasting although it may be for you.
It was the science on brain and body health that motivated me, as did the increase in intuitive and creative powers that always seemed to occur during these fasting periods. I’ve always found this incredible focus that comes from fasting that I’ve not had at any other time other than after 10 day silent meditation retreats. The feeling is remarkable and because of this surge in creative ability, intuitive powers and focus, the health benefits became secondary to me. Although of course those health benefits will help me reach my goal of living to a hundred years old! Never forget your ‘why.‘
That’s why I’ve stuck to intermittent fasting where there is no calorie deficit. I can eat my daily calorie allowance just in a shorter window of time. Besides I love food too much. I love shopping for the perfect quality ingredients from numerous farmers markets – where you’ll find me on most Saturdays when I’m at home in London – and experimenting with new recipes, cooking for myself, family and friends. The hardest part of doing a 7 day green juice cleanse and other longer term calorie deficit fasting styles is never the not eating part for me (I don’t lose any weight either, in fact I’m certain I always ultimately put on some weight afterwards) it’s the not cooking delicious mouth-watering recipes for myself and others. The not chewing. Savouring the flavours with a glass of red wine. The chat at the dinner table. My love of preparing food. That’s what I miss. That sense of togetherness of connection. What’s better than that?
Below are some of the best research articles; blog posts; links; books on the subject that may be of interest to you if you fancy diving into the subject of fasting further. A great starting point is with Dr.Jason Fung @ who has written a great book with Jimmy Moore on the whole subject: The Complete Guide to Fasting
One of our favourite articles on fasting and neuroscience is also worth checking out: Neuroscientist Shows What Fasting Does To Your Brain & Why Big Pharma Won’t Study It This TedX talk by Mark Mattson, a senior investigator for the US National Institute of Aging at TEDxJohnsHopkinsUniversity is a great watch. See it here: Mark Mattson on How Fasting Bolsters Brain Power
So does fasting work? I believe it does. However if you’re under 16 years of age, pregnant or of ill-health then I don’t recommend fasting. If you’re an adult in good health and not pregnant then the only way to figure out if it works for you is to try it first hand. I’ll be focusing on why I do intermittent fasting in the next blog post so be sure to stop by in a fortnight.
Please share this post with anyone who you think may be interested in fasting or figuring out their ‘why‘ Thank you!
Dimple, V&S Founder xo
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I've been doing intermittent fasting (without realising it was called that) for the best part of a decade as I've…