Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Benefits of Fasting

I recently shared the fact that I did a 4.5 day water fast, where I ate nothing and drank only water for 4 days and 13 hours. But I didn't do a good job of sharing the health benefits.

Why would someone do such a thing?

Now I've done more research and will share with you what I have learned. Mostly I listened to a few podcasts where top research doctors were interviewed about their latest findings. I didn't do further research by reading complete studies or anything like that. And sometimes the interviews are over my head. But what I'm sharing here is a simplified overview of recent findings.

Important Note: This data here is all from one source for the ease of this blog post. I've heard and read similar things elsewhere, but frankly this is not a professional blog so I'm not interested in spending hours crafting each blog post, especially since while traveling I often don't have the best wifi connections. My goal is to present you with some new discoveries and let you do further research if you are interested. 

  1. Improved immune system. Fasting for 4-5 days kills off damaged white blood cells. Then, when you begin eating again, your white blood cells are regenerated and the new ones are more youthful.
  2. Reduces inflammation around the spinal cord. Inflammation in our bodies causes all sorts of problems.
  3. Helps beat cancer. Fasting combined with chemo is more effective than chemo alone.
  4. Lowers blood pressure significantly more than just cutting out salt, for instance
  5. "Turns on" stem cells. I don't really know what that means, but I think we are all learning that stem cells are powerful contributors to healing potential in our bodies.
  6. There's diabetes benefits, too, but fasts should be done under a doctor's care.

And here are the related show notes from the discussion, copied and pasted directly from Found My Fitness YouTube:

Published on Oct 1, 2016
Dr. Rhonda Patrick speaks with Dr. Valter Longo, a professor of gerontology and biological sciences and director of the longevity institute at the University of Southern California. Dr. Longo has made huge contributions to the field of aging, including the role of fasting and diet in longevity and healthspan in humans as well as metabolic fasting therapies for the treatment of human diseases.

In this conversation, Rhonda and Valter discuss...
• The effects of prolonged fasting, which refers to 2-3 day fasting intervals in mice and 4-5 days in humans.
• Dr. Longo’s work on the fasting-mimicking diet, which is 5 day restricted diet that is meant to simulate some of the biological effects of prolonged fasting while still allowing some food.
• How clinical trials have demonstrated efficacy for this diet for type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and cancer patients.
• Fasting as an inducer of differential stress resistance, where it can simultaneously make cancer cells more sensitive to death while also making healthy cells more resistant to these same death stimuli (such as chemotherapy) which might otherwise induce cell death amongst healthy cells as collateral damage.
• Fasting as a biological state which humans historically experienced with extreme regularity and we may ultimately need in order to mitigate various disease states.
• The effects of prolonged fasting on the immune system, namely, how it clears away damaged white blood cells via autophagy and how this causes hematopoietic stem cells to self renew and make more stem cells and also produce new blood cells to fully replenish the white blood cell population.
• How prolonged fasting causes a shift in the immune cell population towards one that is more representative of youth by normalizing the ratio of myeloid cells to lymphoid cells.
• The positive effects of prolonged fasting and the fasting-mimicking diet on markers of systemic inflammation, blood glucose levels and other aging biomarkers.
• The conclusions of Dr. Longo & Dr. Marcus Bock’s research comparing 1 week of the fasting-mimicking diet followed by 6 months of mediterranean diet to six months of a ketogenic diet in people with multiple sclerosis.
• The strange, somewhat paradoxical role of autophagy genes in cancer progression and some of the open questions surrounding the exact role that these genes are playing.
• Dr. Longo’s high level thoughts on metformin as an anti-aging drug.
• How the growth hormone/IGF-1 axis is one of the most important genetic pathways in aging from yeast to worms to mice to humans.

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