Ancient philosophies & great thinkers from the human kind such as Aristotle, Hippocrates, Paracelsus and more recently Benjamin Franklin or Mark Twain have been advocated fasting as a simple and accessible way of improving physical & mental efficiency.
In our society of abundance , there is no rest from consumerism. We constantly ingest images, noises, foods, drinks . This over stimulation does not allow much space for creativity and clarity. It is not a coincidence that fasting is brought back in the forefront of the nutrition stage.
The tradition of fasting has been on through centuries. First acclaimed for its beneficial effects on the body and the brain, it progressively remains as a spiritual ground for most religions and cultural practices. This history’s legacy is a good reminder of the multidimensional aspect of fasting.
“What the eyes are for the outer worlds, fasts are for the inner world. “ – Mahatma Gandhi
In our modern world, fasting is taking different facets. Most of the fasting information available talks about eating less, less often during the day. It goes from Intermittent Fasting to 5:2 to 16/8. This is what Professor Valter Longo, from the University of California, calls Time Restricted Feeding.
A longer liquid fast is a more holistic approach of fasting based on three main dimensions:
- The “Digestive” Dimension – Inner vs Outer Nourishment
Your health and wellness are based on efficient and plentiful energy and cellular regeneration. When you do eat wholefoods on regular basis, your digestive system provides energy from raw material and produces heat. Your cells use this raw material to repair, renew or grow cellular components.
During fasting, your inner metabolism activates other pathways to provide nourishment from inside. Your fat reserves, and to a lesser extend protein, are mobilized to provide raw material for your cellular health. Your digestive system, normally energy greedy, is at rest. The heat produced by your digestion is diminished (that’s why you are more sensitive to cold while fasting). As long as you chose a slower and conscious pace and avoid stress and speed, your energy is maintained.
Both programming (eating and fasting) have the capacity to provide a state of wellness and satisfaction. Both provide sufficient energy. Each of them from a different physiological process.
Q1: How long last reserves? According to Cahill’s study in 1976 cited by Whilelmi de Toledo, 2015, an adult with an average BMI has energy reserve of 0.75 kg of glycogen, 3 kg of proteins and 10 kg of fast with a basal metabolic rate of 2500 kCal. This individual can fast during approximately 40 days.
Q2: Is there any risk of becoming deficient in vitamins and minerals? During the fast, vitamins and minerals saturated in healthy tissue are not used up for the digestive process, and sparingly used up by other systems . There is no need for supplementation during fasting under healthy condition.
- The longevity dimension of fasting – A fountain of youth
In our society of overabundance, overeating is common and chronic disease are on the rise. The physiological processes of fasting have been shown to induce cellular regeneration as well as dampen inflammation, one of the key driver of chronic disease. Cellular autophagy cleans out subcellular debris and, as growth hormone levels rise, cells move into a state of renewal.
As the accumulation of older cellular components may be responsible for many of the effects of aging, fasting may contribute to living longer healthier.
Hint 1 – Fasting can accelerate autophagy and the body’s clearing out of old, damaged tissue and gives a break to digestion, so the body focus more energy on repair and restoration.
Hint 2 – Leading scientists propose a yearly liquid fast to prevent chronic disease, based on the principles of accelerated autophagy and dampening of inflammation.
- The Mental & Emotional Dimension of fasting.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” Aristotle
As we live in a time of information overload, most of us look outside of ourselves for answers. As you choose to fast, you may find that you have the answers inside of you. The simple fact of abstaining from food will allow you to tune into your body. As you clear your body from food, you give space for your mind to reflect on the meaning of nourishment. You have a lot more time (the shopping, cooking, eating time) to learn to be with yourself.
The metabolic quietness of fasting appears from day three. This is the time where your blood pressure and insulin levels decrease and your brain learn to optimally use up ketone bodies. This is when your body transitions from outer to inner nourishment, leading to a state of mental clarity and inner peace. This energetic autonomy offers you some freedom for heightening your intuition and connecting to the present moment.
Hint 1 – The transition from outer to inner nourishment is easier for young people, people with good vitality and those who already experienced fasting. For others, the transition needs to be prepared and supported.
YOU CHOOSE TO FAST
Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.” – Hermann Hesse
Starting a fast because you were told it was good, because you should, because you fight something (being extra kilos or chronic condition) can have detrimental effects. Obsession, fight, not letting go are firing the natural stress and survival mechanism: serotonin, the feel good hormone is masked by cortisol. Apathy, depression, and/or worry may become the sole effects of fasting.
Freely choosing to fast at a time that is convenient for you open the door to an inner cellular cleansing (autophagy) as well as an inner positive attitude. Fasting then becomes a tool for healthy longevity as well as a “vision quest”, an inner search for the deep meaning of your life.
The natural cycle of life is based on feast and fast.
This allows for cell growth during eating, and cellular cleansing during fasting.
Life is all about balance.
If you want to know more about fasting, the Vitality Fasting program or the Fast Mimicking Diet protocol from Dr Valter Longo: