By Madis Senner
With the New Year many of us are considering a variety dietary changes from diets to lose weight, to the types of foods we eat, to supplements. One dietary discipline that you should try is intermittent fasting. I have been fasting intermittently for five years and it is been a boon to my health and well-being. I fast every 7-10 days; but have done it as much as 2 times a week.
Intermittent fasting is about periodically not eating for a few hours (usually 16-24) or for a few days. You consume only water and tea if you like while on a fast. I drink green tea and dandelion root tea to help with the functioning of my liver.
While many tout the weight losing benefits of intermittent fasting I never found that to be the case.
Some of the benefits are:
Ultimate detox/rest. You need to give your liver a chance to rest and do its job of cleaning your system. Over time as your liver begins to clean itself you may find a host of benefits from feeling better, to improved vitality to a reduction in the symptoms of whatever ails you.
Last fall I stopped intermittently fasting for a few months and found myself feeling lethargic. So I fasted for 20 hours and the following day I felt more energetic; more importantly I felt clean and had improved mental clarity. While you may initially experience some benefits from fasting it will take some time, several weekly fasts for months, to see the full benefits of intermittent fasting.
At a minimum you should develop the habit of not eating after dinner and try not to eat for 12 hours afterwards. So for example if you finish eating dinner at 6 PM don’t eat again until 6 AM the following morning.
A Fountain of Youth. Fasting has been shown to dramatically increase your production of human growth hormone that many associate with anti-aging and increased muscle mass. Studies have shown that rats that fasted did live longer.
Here are some tips if you are considering intermittent fasting.
Start slowly. Initially fasting is difficult and can give you headaches and more. So I suggest starting out slow with a 6, 8 or 10 hour fast and increasing your fasting period over time.
Break your fast if you have issues. If you feel ill, too weak or whatever—break your fast. Don’t continue if you get sick; although initially distinguishing between what is cleansing or an issue may be difficult to distinguish. There is always next week. Over time fasting will become like second nature and not cause that much hardship.
Break fast with an easy meal. Make your first bite of food after a fast a piece of fruit, a bowl of oatmeal or something else that does not tax your system. Give yourself a little time before you begin eating your normal portion size.
Sleep issues. One of the biggest challenges you may face with intermittent fasting is insomnia. When you fast you increase the production of your flight or fight hormones that could disturb your sleep. I used to fast 24-36 hours but reduced my fast time to 18-20 hours because it affected my sleep. I have an early dinner and will have a late lunch the next day. That way there is a good 8 hours before I go to sleep.
Drink Lots of Water. Drinking water will help with the cleansing of your body. Try to drink at least one glass of water for each waking hour of your fast.
Intermittent fasting has been a big help in reducing my arthritic symptoms and making me feel better and improving my mental clarity. It is difficult to say how many years of life it may, or may not give you, but it will certainly improve the quality of those years.
Give it a try!
Madis Senner is an author who lives in Syracuse. You can read his musings at motherearthprayers.blogspot.com. His latest book is Sacred Sites in North Star Country: Places in Greater New York State (PA,OH,NJ,CT,MA,VT,ONT) That Changed the World. It is available at Books, ETC. in Macedon (facebook.com/booksetcmacedon).