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The Skinny on Intermittent Fasting

Written by Dr. Meri Rosco

Intermittent fasting has gained a lot of attention in recent years. Fasting, however, is one of the most ancient healing techniques in human history. It has been practiced by nearly every culture and religion on earth.

Unlike starvation, which is the involuntary absence of food, fasting is a voluntary withholding of food for spiritual, health or other reasons.

Think about how animals and humans lose their appetite when they are sick. Perhaps this is the body’s way of taking a break from having to digest and absorb foods, allowing that energy to be spent on fighting off an infection or a virus. For this reason, fasting has been termed the “physician within.”

Hippocrates, who is widely considered the father of modern medicine, once wrote, “To eat when you are sick, is to feed your illness.” The ancient Greek writer and historian, Plutarch, wrote a similar thought, “Instead of using medicine, better fast today.”

Fasting has also been shown to improve cognitive function. Think about how the body and mind feel after eating a heavy meal. Would one feel energized and mentally alert after consuming a large amount of food? Most often, people will feel sluggish and sleepy as they enter this “food coma.” This is due to the fact that your body is shunting blood to your digestive system to help with the large influx of food. This will then leave less blood going to the brain.

The term “breakfast” literally means the meal that breaks the fast, which is done daily. We all require this daily break from digestion in combination with the vast benefits of sleeping. Some people may benefit, however, from additional fasting.

It is important that you discuss your interest in fasting with your physician. People with certain medical conditions or who take certain medications might cause more harm than good to the body by fasting.

There are also several ways to intermittently fast. It’s important to discuss with your physician the fasting plan that will be most beneficial for you.

Types of intermittent fasting:

Alternate day fasting is a type of fasting involving alternating a day of fasting with a day of eating regularly. It is the most effective type of fasting if the goal is weight loss since calorie intake is reduced by 50%. However, experts raise concerns about eating this way since it can lead to unhealthy eating habits and it’s not recommended long term.

One day per week fasting is the most popular. This type of fasting allows one to cleanse the body without placing it under too much stress.

Up to the 9th hour fasting involves fasting for the first 8 waking hours and then eating from the start of the 9th hour until bedtime.

One meal per day fasting involves eating only one meal per day and fasting the remainder of the day.

Nightly fasting involves not eating a few hours before sleeping and extending the body’s natural fast that occurs during the night. Most people that follow this type of fasting will stop eating 5 hours prior to bedtime. That window, however, can be extended or reduced. This type of fasting is said to have a positive impact on sleep quality and allows one to wake up feeling refreshed and well rested each morning.

A type of fasting called 16/8 involves eating only during an 8-hour window and then fasting the remaining 16 hours of the day.

If you have medical concerns that you think may benefit by fasting, please make sure to discuss with your chiropractic physician. The major benefit to chiropractic care is relieving pressure off of nerves, allowing your muscles, joints and organs to function optimally. However, there are several other ways that we may address our patient’s health conditions, including through diet and supplementation.

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