Fasting is becoming a buzz word in recent years. Even the Hollywood celebrities are beginning to jump on the wagon of this emerging trend. Hopefully, this healthy development continues into a major trend so that more people can benefit from it.
The star of Ashlee + Evan, Evan Ross has this to share after practising intermittent fasting: “It feels good. Maybe because I feel like we think we have to eat all the time, and I’d like to eat all the time, but it’s not really that necessary.”
Other celebrities joining the new trend include the founder of lifestyle website – Poosh, Kourtney Kardashian, The Morning Show actress, Jennifer Aniston, British musician, Ellie Goulding, Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, star of Jurassic World, Chris Pratt and many more.
The growing popularity of fasting is encouraged by the increasing volume of scientific evidence that clearly verify the many wonders of fasting. If done correctly, fasting is highly beneficial. The potential rewards are what most of us are coveting earnestly – The triple wonders of beauty, good health, and longevity.
Japanese cell biologist, Yoshinori Ohsumi discovered through his research that our cells eat up dead and damaged cells when we fast long enough – a process called AUTOPHAGY, which literally means automatic eating. He demonstrated that fasting activates autophagy, which helps cell renewal and the slowing down of the ageing process. With this research, Yushinori won the Nobel Prize in Medicine, in 2016.
During starvation, proteins and other cell components are broken down to produce energy. The protein and cellular debris are channeled from the process of autophagy, where healthy cells selectively destroy harmful viruses, bacteria, damaged cells, and dead cells. This process is critical for cell health, renewal, and survival.
Oshumi’s work has inspired more than 5,000 similar researches each year. Scientists have found that fasting for 12 to 24 hours or more triggers autophagy. Autophagy is a diverse field of study that includes its role in the protection against inflammation, prevention of diseases like dementia, Parkinson and the many types of cancer, while adding years of good health to our life – both healthspan and lifespan. It also improves brain function and blood sugar control, apart from addressing overweight/obesity and its many debilitating consequences at its very root.
Recent studies have shown that short-term food restriction induces a dramatic upregulation of autophagy in our brain neurons, too. This is an important observation as the disruption of autophagy can cause degenerative diseases of our brain. Conversely, upregulation of autophagy may have a neuroprotective effect.
About half a century ago, in my country, eating two or three meals from 7am to 7pm was a common practice – a norm of that time. Folks of the villages slept early to be awakened by melodious crowing and echoing of roaming roosters at break of dawn. By the time they were ready to break their fast, the grandfather clock would have struck seven times.
Unfortunately, such good practice did not stand the test of time. The increasing abundance and ease of access to food revolutionised the way we used to eat at the expense of beauty, good health and longevity. The lure of enticing corn fructose syrup which is sweeter and more addictive than cane sugar also plays a significant role. Corn fructose syrup is not only sweeter, it is also cheaper, so food manufacturers added it into most of the sweetened commercial drinks and foods.
Sadly, we have lost that healthy practice together with its natural protections of autophagy. Nowadays, most people eat almost continuously and excessively throughout their waking hours. This is perhaps the most important reason for the rising incidence of the various types of cancer, Non- Communicable Diseases (popularly known as NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders of the brain.
Everything has a healthy limit including the number of hours in a day that we should eat. Breaking that limit means straying into the zone of unhealthy practice. Thus, we should wisely take a step backwards, and return to the old healthy practice of our grandfather’s routine of those good old days when 12 hours Intermittent-Water-Fasting (IWF) was their norm. The 12 hours of eating two or three meals a day, followed by 12 hours of no-food-but-water-only fasting popularly known as 12:12 IWF is certainly a better and healthier norm.
This backtracking is essential and should be strongly encouraged in the interest of health promotion and disease prevention. Not doing so when we should, would be rather foolhardy especially when we realised that what we have been doing is undoubtedly wrong as evidenced by the mounting evidence-based scientific facts of recent studies.
The practice of the majority nowadays is clearly not conducive to healthy living. They eat too many times a day, some of them almost continuously throughout the waking hours that often extends beyond 12 to 16 hours. This way of eating invariably leads to obesity and the many diseases related to it. These people need to be educated to fully understand that eating is a learned behaviour that can be unlearned. They should be encouraged to correct their way of eating for the sake of their own health.
The good irony of this invaluable process (FASTING) is: It is FREE. Not just free, it also comes with several big bonuses. Those who successfully put this into practice would spend less on foods, slimming diets/programs, medical bills, and on top of all these, live healthier and perhaps longer. There are really not many contra-indications to this practice. Nonetheless, it is still better to consult a family doctor before one embarks on this FOC programme that comes with many bonuses.
In view of its importance and potential synergistic effect, it is worthwhile mentioning here that apart from fasting, exercise can also induce autophagy in some cells, allowing them to start the repair and renewal process.
Ideally, we should eat to live for good health and longevity. We should not become a victim to the lure of tasty foods and indulge in them without regard to our health. If we think we should live to eat, then the strong undercurrent of that thinking in our subconscious mind is going to make us feel hungry most of the time and we are likely to continue eating indulgently, thus leading us to obesity and all its associated unhealthy consequences including premature death.
Food addicts who have the mindset of “living to eat” shall feel hungry almost throughout their waking hours. They are essentially trying to satisfy their withdrawal symptoms of hunger and uneasiness that constantly bother them though their stomachs are not yet empty. These food addicts are not really enjoying their foods. They eat to ward of their withdrawal symptoms. In other words, they eat to suffer less.
In comparison, those who adopt the alternative mindset of “eating to live” will somehow feel full and satisfied after they have eaten enough. This group of people truly enjoy their foods as they start eating when they are really hungry following a period of at least 12 hours of food abstinence (fasting).
There is a significant contrasting difference in the quality of satisfaction of eating between these two groups of people. Those with the latter mindset are likely to live longer to continue eating intermittently with better quality of pleasure of eating over a longer lifetime.
Truly, we should adopt the right mindset to be able to savour one of the great pleasures of living – eating and at the same time maintain a beautiful body contour, good health, and longevity.
Dr Victor Ti, MD, MFAM (Malaysia), FRACGP (Australia), Dip P Dermatology (UK), Dip STDs/AIDS (Thailand), Dip. AARAM (USA), LCP of Aesthetic Med. (Malaysia) is an experienced expat specialist generalist (Family Physician) of BH Clinic, Phnom Penh. As a specialist generalist, he is skillful at diagnosing all general diseases and excluding the sinister ones. Apart from the general diseases, Dr Victor is also known for his skill in skin diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, minor surgery, and aesthetic medicine. He can be contacted via email [email protected] Tel: 023900446 or Whatsapp: +60164122977. Facebook name: Victor Ti.
- Tags: Fasting