The other day, I got an email from a close friend. He used to be against my fasting when I first started, but now he is more ambivalent about it, and personally supportive of me because it is working. He told me though, that he just could not understand why I had a “need” to fast.
Here is what he said:
I just don’t grasp the need for the fasting, I just respect that you’re doing what you feel is best) and I am very concerned.
I decided to write an email explaining to him why I thought it was important for me to fast, and why I chose to sometimes do extended periods of fasting. Here is what I wrote to my good friend:
This kind of made a light bulb pops up above my head. When I first started fasting, you seemed to be pretty against it, and I can see your thoughts have softened and because of results showing up. I always wondered why you would not be so much into it (not necessarily for yourself but for me or other people who had an interest in doing it). When I read what you said yesterday, the light bulb went off and I finally understand. You don’t grasp the need. So, I thought I would explain what the need is, and also why there is a big difference between doing a short fast and a long one.
I started off by doing Intermittent fasting, where I would fast 18 or 19 hours per day, and feast 5 or 6 hours per day. When I started it, I was liking it, so I started doing some pretty intense research on the topic. I have probably watched more than 100 hours of videos of lectures done by Dr. Jason Fung, who is probably the leading expert in the world on the topic of fasting for medical reasons.
I started learning about how fasting can cure many diseases and other ailments in our bodies. I was amazed by this and dug in deeper. I learned how some types of ailments needed longer fasting times in order to be healed, reversed or whatever you wish to call it.
My first intention was to improve diabetes. I did not really think it could be reversed, or healed, but that I could make the problem much more manageable. As I went on, I could see, though, that it was very possible to reverse the disease, even after 25 years of being diabetic. Diabetes Type 2 is actually all about insulin resistance. Our bodies are resistant to diabetes, so it takes more and more insulin to be able to process our blood sugar. The more insulin that is created, the more you gain weight. This is not just the use of insulin by injection, but the amount of insulin that your pancreas produces inside your body. So, your pancreas creates insulin, but your blood sugar is still high, so more insulin is created. Your pancreas is hard at work, constantly creating more insulin because your body is not using it properly and more is needed. After a while, you need to start injecting insulin because your pancreas is maxed out and can’t do enough to keep up. All the while you are becoming more and more obese. Think of it in terms of alcohol. When a person first starts drinking they might get drunk drinking just one beer. After a while, they need more beer for it to affect them. As time goes by they might need to switch to hard liquor to get drunk, and so on. They have become more “resistant” to alcohol, so it requires more and more alcohol to affect their body.
By fasting, we give our pancreas a rest by not needing it to produce insulin, this is very healing for the pancreas. Fasting also causes our insulin resistance to decrease, and eventually be eliminated altogether. Those blood tests I was wanting to get done a while back when the labs refused to do it, were to test my insulin resistance and see if that problem has already been healed.
So, fasting, for me, was about breaking this cycle. After I had been seriously fasting for a while, suddenly my blood sugar shot up higher than it had been in years. It scared me, but I started researching and I found out that this is normal.
The reason for this shoot up in blood sugar, I found, was because I had been starving my body of sugar and my liver decided that it was an emergency situation that called for it (the liver) to start releasing glycogen, a sugary substance that it has stored up for years in case of emergency. Well, when my liver started flushing out this glycogen it shot up my blood sugar, but following Dr. Fung’s advice, I just let it ride and after a week or so, my blood sugar dropped like a rock. It took about a week and half of fasting to make this happen. If I had fasted 3 days or 1 day, no matter how long I had done that, I would have never eliminated this sugar from my liver.
I have found that there are other curative things that happen in our bodies that happen if you have been fasting for other lengths of time.
Recently, I read an article about a medical study that was done at a California University, I believe it was UCLA if I remember correctly. The team of researchers went into the study thinking that fasting was just a fad and not very effective. But, they found out that fasting for 7 days can TOTALLY RESET a person’s immune system. While fasting, for the longest time period, all of our old immune systems is eliminated and replaced with an entirely new immune system. Now, the university has added more researchers to the study because they want to dig in more due to the surprising results.
I have mentioned, in the past, about Autophagy, I don’t know if you remember. This is perhaps, in my case, one of the most important reasons why I fast for extended periods. Autophagy is a process that was unknown until recently. A team of scientists did extensive research on the process and in 2016 they were awarded a Nobel Prize for the science that they developed. Autophagy is a process that occurs during extended fasting where our body starts consuming damaged and unused cells in our body and replaces those damaged cells with new healthy cells that our body can use. During fasting, our body increases a huge amount of extra growth hormone. You hear about athletes using supplements of Human Grown Hormone to help build muscle, but this grown hormone can be gotten in huge amounts by just not eating for a while! I have read various numbers, but some studies show that during fasting, our body produces as much as 1000% the normal amount of growth hormone!
The reason that autophagy is very important to me is that Dr. Fung says that after treating many thousands of obese people and having most of them lose huge amounts of weight, very few of his patients ever need to be operated on to remove loose skin. I am sure you know that obese people usually end up having huge amounts of loose hanging skin on their body. According to Dr. Fung, through autophagy, our body will eliminate this unused loose skin, and replace it with needed healthy tissue. So, if I continue with success, I will surely need this loose skin to be eliminated. My choices will be to have surgery or to do it through autophagy. I suppose I could also just let it hang, but who wants 12 or 14″ of skin dropping down to their knees? I really have no desire to have somebody cut my body with a knife, I have already done enough of that, so if it can be avoided by fasting, why not do it? I enjoy the fasting, I don’t find it difficult, and I also see many things healing on/in my body. So, I am feeling good about continued fasting.
BTW, autophagy does not happen until you have fasted for an extended time. For somebody like me who follows a keto style of eating, where my body is pretty much always in a state of ketosis (my body uses fat instead of carbs as its source of fuel), autophagy can start about 16 hours after I start fasting. For somebody like you, whose body runs on carbs, to get your body to shift into ketosis and your body burning fat, it takes about 3 days of fasting for the process to start. Now, those time periods are just to start autophagy. You want autophagy to have time to work, so you want to fast as long as practical and possible to let autophagy to work its magic.
Here is another one.. medical research is now saying that fasting can cure, halt or prevent cancer. This is becoming common knowledge by doctors and other medical people. The latest evidence is saying that if a person fasts for a continuous 7 days, one time per year, the chances that they will get cancer are almost zero. The reason that fasting works so well against cancer is that cancer cells require sugar in order to reproduce or even survive. If you starve the cancer cells of the needed sugar for 7 days, they will die.
So, why do I want to fast? Why do I want to fast for extended periods?
- I want to live longer to see my the development of my family.
- I want to get the advantages that extended fasting can give us.
- I enjoy fasting. It makes my mind very active and gives me a lot of energy.
- It feels good.
Certainly, I am not telling you or anybody else to fast. What I am doing, though is trying to answer your question where you said you really did not understand the “need for fasting”. What I am on a crusade to do is not about losing weight. That is a great benefit of what I am doing, but my goal is to be healthy, and I believe that fasting is the best way to do it.
Hey, I might be wrong, who knows? Maybe fasting will kill me. I don’t think it will, and I firmly believe that it will heal me. I think that what I have been doing for the past 50+ years has been killing me already, so a change is/was in order. Then again… lots of things can kill us. Getting in your car and driving to the mall could kill you. I recently learned that not keeping up with the proper dosage of your medication might kill you. I am pretty sure fasting is not going to kill me, in fact, it seems to be doing the opposite… healing me and making me feel good. Every time I do an extended fast, I feel better when I finish than I did before I started.
So, that is what I think about it, and why I feel that fasting is necessary. I feel it is necessary for me. What is necessary for you is up to you, and it is none of my business.
I am interested to hear if anything I said cleared things up and helped you understand my thinking.