People who continue to consume the world’s most destructive grain, i.e., wheat, can rarely endure fasting–not eating for an extended period–except by mustering up monumental willpower. That’s because wheat is a powerful appetite stimulant through its 2-hour cycle of exaggerated glycemia followed by a glucose low, along with its addictive exorphin effect. Wheat elimination is therefore an important first step towards allowing you to consider fasting.
Why fast? I regard fasting as among the most underappreciated and underutilized strategies for health.
In its purest form, fasting means eating nothing while maintaining hydration with water alone. (Inadequate hydration is the most common reason for failing, often experienced as nausea or lightheadedness.) You can fast for as briefly as 15 hours or as long as several weeks (though I tell people that any more than 5 days and supervision is required, as electrolyte distortions like dangerously low magnesium levels can develop).
Among its many physiological benefits, fasting can:
- Reduce blood pressure. The blood pressure reducing effect can be so substantial that I usually have people hold some blood pressure medications, especially ACE inhibitors and ARB agents, during the fast since blood pressure will drop to normal even without the drugs. (A fascinating phenomenon all by itself.)
- Reduce visceral fat, i.e., the fat that releases inflammatory mediators and generates resistance to insulin.
- Reduce inflammatory measures
- Reduce liver output of VLDL that cascades into reduced small LDL, improved HDL “architecture,” and improved insulin responsiveness. (The opposite of fasting is “grazing,” the ridiculous strategy advocated by many dietitians to control weight. Grazing, or eating small meals every two hours, is incredibly destructive for the opposite reason: flagrant provocation of VLDL production.)
- Accelerate weight loss. One pound per day is typical.
Beyond this, fasting also achieves unique subjective benefits, including reduced appetite upon resumption of eating. You will find that as single boiled egg or a few slices of cucumber, for example, rapidly generate a feeling of fullness and satisfaction. Most people also experience greater appreciation of food–the sensory experience of eating is heightened and your sense of texture, flavors, sweetness, sourness, etc. are magnified.
After decades of the sense-deadening effects of processed foods–over-sugared, over-salted, reheated, dehydrated then just-add-water foods–fasting reawakens your appreciation for simple, real food. On breaking one of my fasts, I had a slice of green pepper. Despite its simplicity, it was a veritable feast of flavors and textures. Just a few more bites and I was full and satisfied.
Once you’ve fasted, I believe that you will see why it is often practiced as part of religious ritual. It has an almost spiritual effect.
More on fasting to come . . .
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