Intermittent fasting (IF) has been a popular health strategy for some time, and for good reason; studies show that IF promotes a number of facets of health.
IF has been shown to:
Control blood sugar & improve insulin sensitivity
Given the number of diabetic and pre-diabetic people in this country, this is an important facet of IF that should not be overlooked. While IF is not the only thing that can help improve insulin sensitivity (eliminating sugar/simple carbs and exercise both do this too), IF as a strategy can be an easy and low-impact tool that affects these metrics in a positive way.
Reduce blood pressure
1 in 5 people in The US are thought to have high blood pressure. Known as the silent killer, high blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart attack and stroke that rarely has any symptoms. IF has been shown to help control blood pressure and keep those levels in a healthy range.
Increase human growth hormone (HGH)
HGH helps us maintain muscle mass; exogenous HGH is often used as an anti-aging modality, but this is ill-advised as supplementing with it is implicated in increased risk of cancer. Naturally elevating our HGH, however, does not increase cancer risk and is important for maintaining strong muscles, particularly when we age. HGH, however is suppressed when we eat. Fasting can elevate HGH levels significantly and is one of the only natural ways to promote the secretion of HGH.
Autophagy is a natural processes wherein our bodies “recycle” old, worn out, or damaged cell parts, and re-use the proteins as needed to repair other parts of the body. This important process is thought to protect against age-related degeneration and disease. IF is one of the only natural ways to stimulate this process.
Fasting is also thought to promote weight loss, reduce brain fog, and increase mental clarity, among other important health benefits.
What Fasting Is and Isn’t
There are a few important aspects of fasting that are important to note. In the simplest sense, fasting is about calorie restriction for certain periods of time. Fasting is not starving yourself; it is merely restricting the periods during which you eat. During the times you do eat, it is important to consume a healthy amount of calories, with a wide array of protein, fat, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Fasting––particularly intermittent fasting––is not necessarily calorie restriction at all.
Fasting does not include anything like juice, i.e., a “juice fast”; juice contains calories, and does not really constitute a fast. This is not to say fresh-squeezed fruit and vegetable juice isn’t healthy or packed with nutrition; it is, and juicing is an important part of The Kaufmann Diet. If you are trying to glean the benefits of fasting, however, you should only consume fresh juice during an eating window.
Fasting should never exclude water, however, which has no calories. These is no health benefit to be gleaned from forgoing water, particularly when you are fasting. In fact, you should likely be consuming more water while fasting in order to stay hydrated, which can prevent some of the unwanted side effects of fasting, such as headaches. Fasting lowers insulin, which prompts the kidneys to shed fluid; it is simply important to drink plenty of water during your fasting window. Aim for half your body weight in ounces at least.
Ways To Fast
There are methods of fasting that include longer fasts––that is fasts in excess of 24 hours. These can be very beneficial in some respects; for example, fasts lasting between 7-14 days can maximally stimulate autophagy. Dr. Thomas Seyfried of Boston College recommends these types of fast once a year as anti-cancer protocol. These types of fasts can be done up to once a quarter according to some practitioners.
These, however, are not generally modalities which you would regularly incorporate into your routine. Though this is not an exclusive list of fasting strategies, below are a few common IF patterns which are effective and easy to incorporate into your normal life:
Fast for 16 hours a day, and your eating window lasts for 8 hours. This is as easy as skipping breakfast for most people. Eat lunch at noon, and be finished with dinner by 8pm.
This shortens the eating window to 4 hours a day. For example, you might break your fast at 4PM with a snack, and finish dinner by 8pm.
OMAD stands for one meal a day. This is essentially fasting for 23 hours a day. Remember, it is important to consume a healthy amount of food during that one meal per day.
What About When You are Not Fasting?
IF really has very little to say about what you do eat during the window, it is really more about when you eat. That is not to say that what you eat is not important, because it is. Particularly if you are fasting, it is important to:
- eat enough during your fasting window
- focus on whole foods with plenty of nutrition
- avoid nutritionally void processed foods
In a nutshell, the Kaufmann Diet is a great pairing with IF. The Kaufmann Diet promotes vegetables, lean meats, eggs, nuts, healthy oils, some fruit and limited dairy. The Kaufmann Diet includes a wide array of nutrition in the form of whole, unprocessed foods straight from the earth.
The Kaufmann Diet, obviously, is all about eliminating fungal problems in the body, whether they are caused by a fungal infection or regularly ingesting fungal poisons that are common in certain foods. IF might be able to assist to this end though. Remember that IF is a useful tool for lowering blood sugar, and fungi and pathogenic yeasts thrive on sugar. IF’s ability to lower the amount of circulating sugar in the blood might be useful in assisting The Kaufmann Diet to starve these pathogenic organisms. The added benefit of stimulated autophagy might be useful for repairing the oxidative damage caused by mycotoxins to our cells.
IF does not replace the Kaufmann Diet when it comes to eliminating fungi or pathogenic yeast, but it might be able to enhance the diet’s ability achieve its ends.
Overall, both the Kaufmann Diet and Intermittent Fasting have powerful, profound health benefits, and those benefits might be enhanced when used in tandem with one another.