The Benefits of Fasting

Fasting, or abstaining from eating food for a period of time, has been practiced for millennia. Notably, it has been used for spiritual purposes and health reasons. The science behind the positive health benefits of fasting are coming to light as new research is carried out in the 21st century. Some of the benefits of fasting include:

1) Reducing oxidative damage at the cellular level

2) Reducing inflammation

2) Optimizing energy metabolism

3) Bolstering cellular protection

4) Increasing longevity

5) Strengthening the immune system

6) Disease prevention and treatment

“Fasting has the potential to delay aging and help prevent and treat diseases while minimizing the side effects caused by chronic dietary interventions.” Link

There are many types of fasting out there. Intermittent fasting is a strategy where one limits their eating window to a few hours per day (e.g. fast for 16 hours, eat during a 8 hour window). Another option is to fast one full day per week or one full day per month. Longer fasts may last two to three days or even two to three weeks and beyond. The longest fast ever recorded was done under medical supervision on water and vitamin supplements only and lasted 382 days whereby the subject went from 456 pounds to a healthy weight of 180 pounds.

One common misconception with fasting is that it is hard to do because you will be hungry all the time. In actuality, the hunger resides fully after a day or two on a complete fast. With intermittent fasting, once one becomes accustomed to it, the hunger problem goes away or at least becomes easily manageable.

Another misconception is that fasting is unhealthy because we need to eat three square meals a day. The body is very intelligent. When it doesn’t have enough food for normal metabolism, it shifts into nutritional ketosis and starts burning fat for fuel. Another smart thing the body does is selectively break down and digest “tired and worn out” cells, including immune cells. Upon re-feeding, the body will generate brand new immune cells. In this manner, fasting has a sort of rejuvenating effect on the body.

One of my favorite books written on fasting is called “The Fasting Cure” by Upton Sinclair written in 1911. The PDF can be accessed here: Link.

Optimism is Good for Your Health

In a New York Times piece on personal health, the columnist Jane E. Brody does a good job of explaining some of the differences in health outcomes between those who are optimistic in their thoughts and those who are pessimistic. Plot spoiler: Thinking positive thoughts is good for you. One of my favorite quotes from the article is this:

“Our thinking is habitual, not conscious, so the first step is to learn to catch yourself when thinking negatively and make a commitment to change how you look at things,” he advised. “Recognize that the way you’re thinking is not necessarily the only way to think about a situation. Just that thought alone can decrease the toxic effect of negativity. Step two is to substitute a better thought that is credible.”

Click here to read the article: Link

Sunlight and Immunity

One of my favorite books on the topic of sunlight and health is a book written by Zane R. Kime, MD, MS called, “Sunlight.” In the book, he does a good job of pulling together the science and explaining the relationship between the sun’s light and human health.

In the book, there is a chapter on infectious diseases that talks about how exposure to sunlight (or ultraviolet (UV) light) helps the body defend itself against germs. It does this through multiple pathways. A few of these ways include:

1) Increasing the number of white blood cells in the body, especially lymphocytes which play the leading role of defending the body against germs.

2) Increasing antibodies in the blood for days to weeks after sunlight exposure.

2) Increasing levels of interferon, which has the ability to stop the reproduction of viruses.

3) An overall strengthening of the immune system and an increase in resistance to disease.

I want to share a few of these passages here:

One thing to keep in mind is that while it’s important to get plenty of sun, you never want to burn or make your skin very red.

Book reviews can be found here: Link. It can also be purchased there (no affiliation).

Does Glyphosate (Roundup) Cause Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease?

Rates of Celiac disease and gluten intolerance have risen in recent times and now affects about 5% of the population of North America. Gluten, a group of proteins in various cereal grains, has been investigated as a contributing factor to these diseases. Another suspect is glyphosate, also known by the brand name, Roundup.

Writing in the Interdisciplinary Toxicology journal, researchers propose that glyphosate can explain many of the symptoms seen in Celiac disease and gluten intolerance. The paper’s abstract reads:

“Celiac disease, and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe, where an estimated 5% of the population now suffers from it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, macrocytic anemia and depression. It is a multifactorial disease associated with numerous nutritional deficiencies as well as reproductive issues and increased risk to thyroid disease, kidney failure and cancer. Here, we propose that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup®, is the most important causal factor in this epidemic. Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease. Celiac disease is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on gut bacteria. Characteristics of celiac disease point to impairment in many cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are involved with detoxifying environmental toxins, activating vitamin D3, catabolizing vitamin A, and maintaining bile acid production and sulfate supplies to the gut. Glyphosate is known to inhibit cytochrome P450 enzymes. Deficiencies in iron, cobalt, molybdenum, copper and other rare metals associated with celiac disease can be attributed to glyphosate’s strong ability to chelate these elements. Deficiencies in tryptophan, tyrosine, methionine and selenomethionine associated with celiac disease match glyphosate’s known depletion of these amino acids. Celiac disease patients have an increased risk to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which has also been implicated in glyphosate exposure. Reproductive issues associated with celiac disease, such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, can also be explained by glyphosate. Glyphosate residues in wheat and other crops are likely increasing recently due to the growing practice of crop desiccation just prior to the harvest. We argue that the practice of “ripening” sugar cane with glyphosate may explain the recent surge in kidney failure among agricultural workers in Central America. We conclude with a plea to governments to reconsider policies regarding the safety of glyphosate residues in foods.”

Click here to read the full paper: Link

The Right Response… Is To Go On

In a communication with Noam Chomsky, I posed to him the following:

“Here is a question for you:

I will sit down, read the news, do my research and come to realize that what the media is telling us is often not the best course of action for the everyday man, but is in fact what is best for big business or the ultra-wealthy and may even be at the expense of the everyday man. I go out and interact with the public only to find most people’s opinion’s have been brought in line with the news message and few people are questioning if it’s really the right message. Far too often, I’m the odd man out with the “goofy” ideas. How do you deal with this? It gets tiring. Surely you’ve encountered something similar in your life. After too much of it, it makes me want to withdraw from having conversations with people, which is the exact opposite of what society needs from insightful people who are really trying to understand how the world works.”

To which Mr. Chomsky replied:

“What you describe is the normal experience, throughout history, of those who think for themselves and do not simply toe the line, the easy way. It is, for example, the experience of the scattered few who opposed US aggression in Vietnam when it was building up in the early 1960s, and faced not only isolation but abuse and often violence — until, years late, popular opinion began to change and the war was seen by many as the monstrosity it was. So yes, it gets tiring, but the right response, as throughout history, is to go on.”

I really appreciated his response and thought it would be fitting to share here where it might help someone else who reads it.

“So yes, it gets tiring, but the right response, as throughout history, is to go on.”

*This communication was reproduced here with kind permission from Mr. Chomsky

To read an article on how the media works, click here: Link