Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
3 Apr

Why Fast? Part Four – Brain Health

Pretty much every feature of the human body can be found, in some form or another, on other species. Opposable thumbs? Great for building and using tools, but apes have them, too. Even the giant panda has an opposable sesamoid bone that works like a thumb. Bipedalism? Helped us avoid direct mid-afternoon sun and carry objects while moving around the environment (among other possible benefits), but plenty of other creatures walk upright, like birds and Bigfoot. The human foot? Okay, our feet are quite unique, but every other -ped has feet (just different types), and they all work well for getting around. So, what is it that makes us so different from other animals (because it’s got to be something)?

What truly sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is the human brain. Other animals may have brains big and complex enough to help them procure food, shelter, and water while processing and acting on basic sensorial inputs from the environment (“avoid obstacle” or “this smells like food” or “I am thirsty, where’s the water?”), but they do not share the human brain’s capacity for self-reflection and symbolic thought. It is the fleshy thinking mass of fatty furrows and gelatinous valleys sitting atop our spine that gave and gives us art, literature, architecture, agriculture, nuclear power, syntax, philosophy, advertising, society, this laptop on which I type this post, and the smart phone on which you read it. In short, our brains make us human. Without them, we wouldn’t be us.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy being a human. I like contemplating my own existence, being entertained for hours by strange scribblings on layered sheets of dried and pressed wood pulp, and playing Ultimate Frisbee, and if I’m going to continue to enjoy those things, I need to protect my brain and keep it healthy. And if I want to enjoy myself on this planet and experience all it has to offer until I drop dead, I’m going to need as much brain function as possible (since, you know, the brain handles all that experimenting stuff) as I age. Luckily, fasting appears to offer three main protective and therapeutic benefits to the brain:

Fasting Boosts Neuronal Autophagy

I’ve cited this study before, but I’ll do it again because it’s central to the theme of today’s post: “short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy.” Autophagy, or “self-eating,” is the process by which cells recycle waste material, downregulate wasteful processes, and repair themselves. Brain health is highly dependent on neuronal autophagy. In fact, a recent paper shows that deletion of an “essential autophagy gene” in the hypothalamic neurons of fetal mice resulted in metabolic derangement (more body fat, poor glucose tolerance) and impaired neuronal development. Another study shows that disruption of neuronal autophagy induces neurodegeneration. Simply put, without the process of autophagy, brains neither develop properly nor function the way they should.

Fasting Increases Levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF)

BDNF is a protein that interacts with neurons in the hippocampus, cortex, and basal forebrain (the parts of the brain that regulate memory, learning, and higher cognitive function – uniquely human stuff). It helps existing neurons survive while spurring the growth of new neurons (neurogenesis) and the development of synapses (lines of communication between neurons). Low levels of BDNF are linked to Alzheimer’s, and supplementary BDNF prevents neuronal death, memory loss, and cognitive impairment in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease.

Fasting Increases Production of Ketones

Ketone bodies like hydroxybutyrate are famously neuroprotective, and fasting often induces ketosis.

Increased autophagy and BDNF and ketones from fasting sounds awesome, but do they manifest as actual benefits to neurological health? Let’s see what the research says.

No discussion of fasting and neurological health research is complete (or can even be initiated) without including Mark Mattson. Mattson, chief neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging, has been releasing paper after paper on the neurological effects of intermittent fasting for the past dozen years, and he’s amassed an impressive body of work that suggests IF can induce neurogenesis and protect against brain injury and disease. In the following sections, I’ll discuss the evidence – from Mattson and other researchers – for the beneficial effects of fasting on neurological health across a spectrum of conditions.

Stroke

The most common type of strokes are ischemic strokes (composing about 88% of all strokes) – cerebrovascular events in which a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain is blocked by a clot. Without blood, the brain can’t get oxygen or nutrients, and (often permanent) brain damage can occur. In an animal model of ischemic stroke, fasting upregulated BDNF and other neuroprotective proteins, reduced mortality and inflammation, and increased cognitive health and function. However, it’s worth noting that fasting was most effective against stroke in young animals, who enjoyed a four-fold increase in neuroprotective and neurogenerative BDNF. Middle aged mice saw a two-fold increase in BDNF, while older mice saw no increase. Post-stroke cognitive function had a similar relationship to age and feeding status; young and middle-aged fasted mice retained far more than old mice and fed mice. Fasted mice displayed lower levels of inflammatory cytokines, but this effect was also modulated by age. Overall, fasting increased neuroprotective proteins and decreased inflammatory cytokines in young and middle-aged mice, thereby reducing the brain damage incurred by stroke.

Brain Trauma

Research indicates that fasting is also effective against physical trauma to the brain. It’s not that fasting somehow physically repels impending trauma by generating a magical ketone-powered force field; it’s that fasting reduces the oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and cognitive decline that normally result from brain trauma. Employing one of these contraptions, researchers induced a “controlled cortical impact” on fasting rats and found that a 24-hour fast (but not a 48-hour fast) was neuroprotective. Perhaps the reduced appetite that commonly accompanies a concussion is a protective mechanism rather than an annoying side effect?

Cervical Spine Injury

“Every other day” fasting was neuroprotective following an injury to a rat’s cervical spine. Despite extensive trauma, fasted rats improved gait pattern, vertical exploration, and forelimb function (all heavily dependent on brain function). Neuronal integrity was preserved, cortical lesion volume was reduced, and corticospinal axon (nerve fiber) sprouting increased. The same team performed a similar study on mice suffering from a spinal cord injury, but had very different results; every other day fasting failed to confer any neuroprotective or functional benefits to the injured mice whatsoever. How can we reconcile these apparently contradictory findings? Well, in the rats who experienced neuroprotection, fasting increased ketone production by 2 or 3 fold. The fasting mice never reached ketosis. Ketosis was key.

Alzheimer’s disease.

In a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease, both intermittent fasting and 40% (!) calorie restriction conferred cognitive and behavioral benefits when compared to mice on the control diet. IF and CR mice showed higher levels of exploratory behavior, and, when placed in a Morris water maze, found the escape platform sooner than the control mice. However, only IF mice showed evidence of protection against synaptic pathology – a hallmark of the disease.

Huntington’s disease.

Huntington’s disease is also characterized by a depletion in BDNF levels. In a rat model of the disease, intermittent fasting normalized BDNF levels, while regular feeding kept them low. Fasting rats lived longer and even enjoyed better glucose tolerance than ad libitum fed rats. By all accounts, fasting slowed progression of Huntington’s disease.

Age-Related Cognitive Decline

We’ve all had a grandmother who called us by our sibling’s name, or a grandpa who forgot to unwrap the Werther’s Original before popping it into his mouth – these are the innocent, simple, quaint, seemingly unavoidable declines in cognition that accompany the aging process. Well, maybe they aren’t unavoidable. Although most of the research focuses on neurological trauma and disease, there’s evidence that intermittent fasting is good for basic age-related cognitive decline. I find it interesting that this was “late-onset” intermittent fasting, meaning elderly rats who began fasting only after showing signs of decline still wrought cognitive benefits. Contrast that with the stroke study in which older rodents saw almost no benefit from fasting and a picture emerges: as long as they’re not trying to counter a debilitating event, like ischemic stroke or trauma, older brains can also expect to benefit from fasting.

Depression?

Depression has long been associated with lower BDNF levels as a prognostic of the disease, but it’s only recently that researchers are entertaining the possibility that low BDNF and depression could be causally related. And indeed – antidepressants actually increase BDNF signaling and synthesis in the hippocampus (the part of the brain where depression “happens”). Could fasting help with depression via upregulation of BDNF and promotion of neurogenesis? Perhaps. I’d say it’s worth a shot, especially since skipping a few meals doesn’t require a prescription.

Obviously, since these are mostly rodent studies, and hard-and-fast peer-reviewed evidence of the neuroprotective and neurogenerative effects of fasting in humans doesn’t exist yet, we’re only speculating. But I’d argue they are plausible speculations worth pursuing. The mechanisms are there. Speculations about IF’s other health effects – to general health and cancer and longevity and fat loss – are being borne out by human research. Both the risk and barrier to entry are low. And it makes sense in light of our evolutionary history as hunter-gatherers. In a recent interview, Mattson even couches the neuroprotective effects of fasting in evolutionary terms, noting that during pre-agricultural times of scarcity, people “whose brains responded best – who remembered where promising sources could be found or recalled how to avoid predators — would have been the ones who got the food” and lived to pass on their genes.

As I age, the risk of my uniquely human brain going screwy and sabotaging my selfish desires to remain cognizant and engaged with life until the very end increases. It is not a foregone conclusion – I know too many quick-witted, sharp-tongued folks thirty years my senior – but the chances do increase. Since I don’t want that to happen, and the occasional fast is a nearly risk-free endeavor with proven benefits in other areas, I’ll continue to miss a few meals every now and then. It hasn’t hurt me yet, it just might be one of the factors that allows me to live long and drop dead, and hey, since I’m fat-adapted it’s not even a struggle to do it.

What say you, readers? Do the potential neuroprotective effects of fasting interest you? Why, or why not?

Thanks for reading.

Here’s the entire series for easy reference:

Why Fast? Part One – Weight Loss

Why Fast? Part Two – Cancer

Why Fast? Part Three – Longevity

Why Fast? Part Four – Brain Health

Why Fast? Part Five – Exercise

Why Fast? Part Six – Choosing a Method

Why Fast? Part Seven – Q&A

Dear Mark: Women and Intermittent Fasting

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Fasting is natural; food wouldn’t always have been available. Fasting is often difficult for people who eat a lot of carbs and far easier for those who don’t. Eating food when it’s available is natural, too, though, and I find that when I conciously decide to fast, I think about food more and usually fail to fast for very long. Unplanned fasts work best for me…when I just don’t feel hungry or am too busy doing something fun or doing something strenuous in hot weather. That’s when I fast. A lot of times for me, it’s just not eating until mid afternoon and this happens much more often on non workdays (less brain power being used on days off/lower energy needs?) I like knowing I am not doing any damage with fasting and am in fact boosting my health. Ah all that bs about how bad it is to skip meals, especially breakfast! I NEVER wanted food early and how my super-sensitive to grains belly ached when forced to eat “at least some toast” early in the morning as a child!

    DThalman wrote on April 3rd, 2012
  2. I really like fasting. One thing I have done recently is drink a bit of kefir partway through a 24-hour fast – I’m talking like 1/2 cup at most. This gives the probiotics a chance to act optimally. I know it’s not technically fasting because I have “eaten” something but it seems beneficial to me. My skin and mood and general health seems to really benefit.

    Gydle wrote on April 3rd, 2012
    • Whole Foods now sells a coconut water based kefir if you wanted to try something less “foody” but still get live probiotic. You only drink a tablespoon of it at a time so it’s pretty negligible.

      Tina wrote on April 6th, 2012
  3. Hi Mark,

    I was wondering whether it makes any sense that the body would cannibalize muscle mass on a prolonged fast if you were using your muscles still, say, still lifting heavy things? I mean, surely if your body thought you needed the muscle it wouldn’t gobble it up? I’ve read a lot of things online and this still seems to be a worry for people. It doesn’t make sense to me that the body would use muscle when there is still fat to use up; is this not the entire point of our ability to store fat anyway?!

    Nikki wrote on April 4th, 2012
    • You body would start converting the muscles to glucose via gluconeogenesis and you would start feeling very weak.

      If you are fasting you should NOT do heavy lifting.

      A variant of fasting (technically it’s not fasting) which I sometimes do consists in eating coconut oil +BCAA and doing heavy workouts (bouldering in my case). The body still produces glycogen from Leucine but the existing muscle mass is preserved. This form of fast is also heavily ketogenic and so you/your brain should feel quite well.

      Martin wrote on April 4th, 2012
  4. While this doesn’t have to necessarily do with fasting, I have noticed a large difference in brain performance with regards to chess rating. I am quite streaky, and it goes perfectly along with dietary carbohydrate (ie, high fat diet equals winning streak). I have “accidentally” repeated this multiple times (after a losing streak, I check my food journal). Since it’s been several times, I think the results are pretty clear. And it’s not like some high fat bias to avoid cognitive dissonance, as I get very angry when making a blunder.

    john wrote on April 4th, 2012
  5. Here are my thoughts on fasting I have done the full 24 hour fast first off if you want to attend this fast I would recommend that you do it at the nighttime so you do the first 12 hours for eight hours of sleep so it’s a lot easier to get through so then you only have another 12 hours to do awake. You can drink as much water as you like and coffee but I has to be black. What happens is at the nighttime between three and the four hour you get rapid eye movement sleep and your first growth hormone surge. Then when you fasted for the 16th hour you get a second surge of growth hormone and I cannot recall when you get the third surge of growth hormone its on the 18th hour or 24. I’ve also done 16 hour fasts so I can get the growth hormone surge on the 16th hour I been doing this for about 2 week now and my dead lift has gone up form 120 kg to 135 kg.

    matthew wrote on April 4th, 2012
  6. I enjoy fasting too. Every now and then i’ll skip meals during the day and i always become happier, more agile and alert. Yesterday in fact i hadn’t eaten from around 7pm the previous night until around 4pm the next day, i literally couldn’t stop talking, i’ve discovered that when i’m fasting my brain feels like it has a short burst of energy and goes at twice the usual speed, love it. :o)

    Carl wrote on April 4th, 2012
  7. I’m glad you’ve done this series on fasting because, to be honest, I don’t love the idea and needed to be persuaded. I’ve always been an “eater”, for one thing, so skipping a meal is usually a non-starter. But, as someone who has had cancer and who has a family history of age-related dementia, I have to admit I am reconsidering the whole IF thing. And, it makes sense from an ancestral perspective. Grok wasn’t getting his meals on the dot and to order.

    Tina wrote on April 4th, 2012
  8. This is a great post. I love the cited references, something I used to do more and should do more. At any rate…

    I haven’t done a 24 hour fast in a long time, but I generally have one large meal a day, typically lunch. I learned of your blog from Kurt Harris’ archevore blog, and have been drinking heavy cream in coffee as a good breakfast and dinner alternative on occasion. Avocados and grapefruit are also good in a pinch. I just had half a grapefruit and some decaf with heavy cream for dinner. I feel sated, alert, with that feeling you get when you fast or haven’t had much to eat…I like to call it feeling ALIVE. There’s something about it that is much different than the feeling after eating 3 large meals a day.

    All in all, I feel better eating this way. I can’t say anything about what may or may not be happening in my brain, but I definitely feel better. The 3 squares a day plan is probably flawed to begin with. Eating one big meal a day (lunch) seems to be the best plan. Some days I eat 2, sometimes 3, but those days are becoming more rare and I’m feeling much better.

    DM

    Dirt Man wrote on April 4th, 2012
  9. I always dread my monthly fast but I always love the way I feel afterwards. I fast as a part of my religion and it is cool to see physical benifets also. I love your site

    Mark Weeks wrote on April 4th, 2012
  10. Love it. My mind is much clearer during a fast. I honestly hate breaking the fast because while my mental clarity doesn’t completely evaporate, it does decrease significantly after I get a lot of food in my belly. Bummer. Has anyone else noticed this? If so, have you found any way to deal with it?

    Daniel Wallen wrote on April 4th, 2012
  11. I just finished the 3rd day of a 5 day fat fast. It takes some planning but, for me, is much easier to tolerate. I had plateau and couldn’t get anymore weight to move. The most amazing thing is not only my arthritis is mostly gone, but the sciatica I’be suffered for years is gone! I’m walking miles a day. No pain is GOOD!

    TruckerLady wrote on April 4th, 2012
  12. Been Fasting past couple of months following the Primal Diet and Lean Gains workouts/fasting regiment (leangains.com) and have never felt better good see the additional benefits of fasting

    Andy wrote on April 4th, 2012
  13. I have been primal for nearly a year.
    I lost 20kg in about 8-10 weeks and have kept it off. I wish to lose another 5kg. I work for a bank, and I have sales targets. I only work two days a week while I study full time. I decided to IF on the days I work. I eat dinner the night before, and then I dont eat til after work the next day. I do this Wed and Fri. I drink green tea and some coffee in the mornings. My weight has dropped from 59kg to 57kg. But the thing that amazed me is this: On days at work when I fast my sales are amazing. My target is just under two sales a day. I have not been meeting this target for years. I now sit at 127% of target. One day last month I did 9 sales events. That’s 2.5 weeks of sales in one day. In addition and the most exciting for me is that I balance at the end of the day. I have a substantial amt of money to count and in three years I have nearly always failed at this. So much so that I had “coaching” over it. I have balance TO THE CENT everytime I fast at work. This to me is incredible. Lastly, as I know this post is too long… I love the way I feel when I fast. I feel alive. If you havent tried it – please do so.

    Jane wrote on April 5th, 2012
  14. We do all we can to PREVENT Ketosis in our goats. Ketosis is not a good thing. Goats can die from it.

    Ketosis
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Jump to: navigation, search
    Ketosis
    Classification and external resources

    Ketone bodies
    ICD-9 276.2
    DiseasesDB 29485
    MeSH D007662

    Ketosis ( /kɨˈtoʊsɨs/) is a state of elevated levels of ketone bodies in the body.[1] It is almost always generalized throughout the body, with hyperketonemia, that is, an elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood. Ketone bodies are formed by ketogenesis when the liver glycogen stores are depleted. The ketone bodies acetoacetate and β-hydroxybutyrate are used for energy. [2]

    Contents

    Metabolic pathways
    When glycogen stores are not available in the cells, fat (triacylglycerol) is cleaved to provide 3 fatty acid chains and 1 glycerol molecule in a process called lipolysis. Most of the body is able to use fatty acids as an alternative source of energy in a process called beta-oxidation. One of the products of beta-oxidation is acetyl-CoA, which can be further used in the Krebs cycle. During prolonged fasting or starvation, acetyl-CoA in the liver is used to produce ketone bodies instead, leading to a state of ketosis.

    During starvation or a long physical training session, the body starts using fatty acids instead of glucose. The brain cannot use long-chain fatty acids for energy because they are completely albumin-bound and cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. Not all medium-chain fatty acids are bound to albumin. The unbound medium-chain fatty acids are soluble in the blood and can cross the blood-brain barrier.[2] The ketone bodies produced in the liver can also cross the blood-brain barrier. In the brain, these ketone bodies are then incorporated into acetyl-CoA and used in the citric acid cycle.

    The ketone body acetoacetate will slowly decarboxylate into acetone, a volatile compound that is both metabolized as an energy source and lost in the breath and urine.

    [edit] Ketoacidosis
    Main article: Ketoacidosis
    Ketone bodies are acidic, but acid-base homeostasis in the blood is normally maintained through bicarbonate buffering, respiratory compensation to vary the amount of CO2 in the bloodstream, hydrogen ion absorption by tissue proteins and bone, and renal compensation through increased excretion of dihydrogen phosphate and ammonium ions.[3] Prolonged excess of ketone bodies can overwhelm normal compensatory mechanisms, leading to acidosis if blood pH falls below 7.35.

    There are two major causes of ketoacidosis:

    Most commonly, ketoacidosis is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), resulting from increased fat metabolism due to a shortage of insulin. It is associated primarily with type I diabetes, and may result in a diabetic coma if left untreated.[4]
    Alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA) presents infrequently, but can occur with acute alcohol intoxication, most often following a binge in alcoholics with acute or chronic liver or pancreatic disorders. Alcoholic ketoacidosis occurs more frequently following methanol or ethylene glycol intoxication than following intoxication with uncontaminated ethanol.[5]
    A mild acidosis may result from prolonged fasting or when following a ketogenic diet.[6]

    Little Bright Feather wrote on April 5th, 2012
    • I cannot argue with you about goats, but for humans there are many who theorize that at least intermittently moving from glucose metabolism to fatty acid and ketone bodies metabolism is not harmful, and in many cases is beneficial.

      Geoff wrote on April 7th, 2012
  15. Switched to primal about six weeks ago (wasn’t too much of a change, just cut out grains, and cut down sugars/fruit, which I was already trying to do) and started experimenting with alternate day fasting this week. The first day was pretty hard after about 14 hours, I finally broke the fast when my heart started feeling funny. I’m still not sure if it was related. Today, though, I finished an 18-hour fast with NO problems at all, it was pretty easy. Broke the fast with a small burger sans bun and carrots. Feeling pretty good (:

    Casey wrote on April 6th, 2012
    • I’ve tried IF 3 times this year, in the form of a “water only” 24 hour food fast. Each was seperated by 1 week.

      It was tough…

      Recently I came across a very interesting variation on the IF theme. It’s called “protein cycling” but I think a better/clearer name is “protein fasting”.

      The idea is simply that to eat all the calories you normally would but on the “protein fast” day make sure less than 5% come from protein. This ensures the protein intake that day is below the bodys critical daily requirement. The result, according to the person proposing it, is the same thing – autophagy is induced.

      Here is a link to an (free) online version of the book promoting the plan:

      http://proteincyclingdiet.wordpress.com/article/protein-cycling-diet-2s3nmvrwklbxs-1/

      and here is a link to a list of low-protein foods:

      http://proteincyclingdiet.wordpress.com/article/protein-cycling-diet-10-2s3nmvrwklbxs-11/

      I hope everyone that would want to try this version of IF likes bananas and apples…lol!

      I’ll probably try this later this month and report back. But I know this will make IF fasting easier. I’m not sure if it’s still valid.

      Worth trying I think.

      PaleoLogicCheck wrote on April 7th, 2012
  16. And how good is that first meal when you break a fast? “Owwh, these are the best eggs I’ve ever had! You gotta’ try it!”

    Bike shirt guy wrote on April 8th, 2012
  17. I do wonder if being “fat adapted” and IF are redundant. By minimizing carbs going into your body, blood sugar levels will tend to stay low, and thus HGH will flow and many of the other benefits you’ve described probably also. Are there any studies out there suggesting that “fat adapted” animals do better adding IF?

    Dave H wrote on April 13th, 2012
  18. Okay, I’m going to have to try fasting. I had no idea that there are so many health benefits to this practice. Thank you for sharing!

    Christine Mattice wrote on April 15th, 2012
  19. There is a great article in the NY Times Health section, linking BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) and exercise.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/magazine/how-exercise-could-lead-to-a-better-brain.html?ref=magazine

    robin wrote on April 26th, 2012
  20. The husband and I are fasting every other day through June. After that we will reevaluate and decide if we want to continue.

    Crystal wrote on May 27th, 2012
  21. My sex drive always improves while I fast. Any inflammation goes down and sometimes I get acne while I fast. On one occasion I had acne before I fasted and during the fast it disappeared. I usually get a release of white blood cells through my nose and I believe this is the immune system dealing with a very pathogens.

    StevE wrote on July 15th, 2012
  22. Its very interesting as Muslims fast for a compulsory 30 days in Ramadan. Also it is encouraged to fast and seems like there are lots of scientific benefits of fasting. We fast from sunrise to sunset which goes back every 10 days and right not that’s from 3.30am to 9.00pm. I think if anyone needs some motivation to fast try buddying up with someone they may know in Ramadan as it will become much easier to follow : – )

    mabs wrote on August 7th, 2012
  23. I don’t know about the science side of this but as someone who has been using IF (2 days off 5 days on) for the last 4 weeks. I can say that my desire to gorge has gone. When I do eat, I enjoy it more and feel full more quickly. I’ve noticed aromas and tastes more as well. On my fasting days, I don’t really even feel that hungry and I’ve lost about 2 pounds a week so far. I feel much more calm and I seem to be able to solve problems a lot more quickly(This could be my imagination but I don’t think so). My skin looks a lot better. The thing I have really noticed is, the day after my 2nd day of fasting, I feel a little over-energized; to the point where, last week, I was running about the house finding things to clean and vacuum(this is not like me my wife would testify to this). That was odd as I was buzzing and talking much more than usual. But generally I feel a lot better so I’m going to continue and see where it leads.

    David wrote on September 3rd, 2012
  24. A very informative site. Amazes me how folks accumulate and become conversant of so much knowledge; makes me feel like a philistine. I fasted as a young man, and the weight came off, though my motivation was spiritual, though delusionary in the sense that I really didn’t know much about the stuff I believed in. So I was fasting too much, unto starvation, and then I would fast w/o water sometimes. I once went 13 days and nights w/o water, and my heart started skipping beats; lucky to be alive. Because I fasted to starvation, I used up nutrients. My hair all turned gray almost overnight, my skin wrinkled above my nose, and these things never came back. Incidentally, when I was in this state, my body wanted to do yoga, ie stretching the joints etc. That and the growth hormones accounts for why starving people grow taller as an evolutionary adaptation — just a theory, but I suspect true. At the extremes of fasting, I had some out of body experiences, but that was also precipitated by the terror related to this cult I was in. / Well, I’m fasting again today for weight loss and to try to get my mind right. You see the problem I have with food is I eat under stress, which I know is evolutionary because I saw animals on the farm doing this, specifically chickens. When they saw their flock being hatcheded heads off, they started eating until their gullets were stuffed with corn, evinced when their heads were chopped off and corn spewed from their gullets. / Where was I? So I have these very strong thoughts of food, like pizza, with smell, taste, and feel included, and my mind wants me to think this is hunger. My body is not hungry in the least, but the compulsive urge to eat, a learned response to stress I guess, is nearly impossible to resist by attending to thoughts of not eating. I can fast, whether this is by awareness or pure will power I’m not sure, but I want to achieve the state that I am moved to eat out of physical hunger and not out of these thoughts of food, really irresistable at times. This is more about the mind than the stomach. If you have any insights on this, let me know.
    I guess at bottom is that one needs something for the mind to do to keep the mind occupied with something other than food, when stressed or bored. I’m also learning about Vipassana meditation, hoping that might be the answer, but it’s all a battle still at this point. I tried a 30 day fast drinking coffee in the a.m. and OJ throughout the day. After 30 days I lost nothing, may have gained a couple pounds. I’m not on a water only fast, and the weight is coming off. I do have, and have suffered some mental health problems over time, due to the usual childhood and later traumas. Too much negative thought in the stream of consciousness. I hope this fast will help my mind become more aware in the now, as E. Tolle would say, but remains to be seen. I do anticipate feeling better just being a lighter weight, as I remember it did feel good when I was. A girlfriend thought I was too thin; she made it her goal to fatten me up, first dinner was lasagna. Somehow I just kept eating. But the real terrible setback was when some [incompetent] psychiatrist put me on that Eli Lilly poison ZYPREXA, gained 50 pounds in a month and became diabetic, and was too out of my mind to know what was wrong. Many young people died on ZYPREXA, the company was pushing the stuff for profits. If there were any justice, they’d be in prison. / Anyhow, sorry for all the excess thoughts, but thanks for the good information on fasting etc. R.

    Rocky Fjord wrote on December 13th, 2012
  25. I actually started research on fasting after an unintentional fast last Saturday. I went for a walk and felt particularly perceptive. The enviroment (specially nature in parks) seemed specially beautiful, and a sutil well being sensation growed inside me. It was an interesting experience that got me very interested in this matter.

    Daniel wrote on January 2nd, 2013
  26. You should check out the “Hodgetwins” on YouTube. They were once fat and have been working out and IF for 4 years now and look fantastic! Their look went from a “Jack Black” to Arnold Schwarzenegger. They’re now trainers at a gym and very inspiring.

    Crystal wrote on April 15th, 2013
  27. I thought this was very interesting, especially since I love fasting. I fast a couple times a week and I always believed that fasting can cure a lot of things. And I also have a very bad case of depression to where I hear voices and see things in my head and feel feelings in my body that aren’t really real. And because of it I have to take anti psychotics to help it. And this article gives me more hope that I can get this off forever one day. I once fasted from Friday evening to Sunday at 5pm and I actually felt better. Completely no voices or anything I almost wanted to keep fasting that fast. But once things start getting bad in America and the dollar collapses and I can’t get my meds from where I get them. I’m glad I know now from this article that I can start that Long term fasting again. And Thankyou for this article

    Brandon Todd nottingham wrote on October 9th, 2013
  28. Hi, I am that type of people that gets irritated when hungry and my eyes see blurry and my hands start shaking. I was told that this is due to the drop of sugar in blood. But I don’t have any disease.
    However, I usually eat as soon as I get hungry, but recently I was getting so busy and had no time to eat every time I get hungry. And I realized that after an hour of starving, the symptoms go away and I feel that I can think clearer than usual. Therefore, I consider starting fasting. But I think fasting the whole day is way too much for me as a start. Especially that I am thin, don’t have much body fat and I have a fast metabolism. Can you please advise on how to start fasting in my case?
    Please answer as a reply not as a new comment so I can get notified.

    Dasha wrote on November 28th, 2013
  29. I have been fasting for 20 years now. I have been doing a 36-hour fast on Wednesdays and most recently added a 24-hour fast on Fridays. I know my complexion and youthful appearance are a direct result of this discipline. (My husband says I look like I’m in my 30s… I’m 53). Recently fasting has become more difficult for me as I teach Kindergarten and it requires lots of energy. Some days however, I can fast and it feels like it’s all uphill all day and some days I can fast and it feels like nothing. I’m not sure why, I suspect this is related to my hormones as I’m in peri-menopause right now. Recently I added Organic Excellence’s Progesterone Cream to my daily supplements and it has helped me immensely. I think when my hormones are in balance the fast is much easier. Just an observation. I like fasting because it gives my body a real rest from digesting. I don’t think we were meant to digest every single day. It’s just too much work for our systems. Anyway. Hope my experience in fasting helps!

    Chrissy C wrote on November 29th, 2013
  30. This was an absolutely amazing article!!! Thank you for sharing this! Remarkable, some of the data you’ve presented. This makes me want to look more into the fasting routines of Muslims during Ramadan. How amazingly the body and mind respond to fasting….very interesting.

    Adrian wrote on February 22nd, 2014
  31. Useful info. Lucky me I found your web site unintentionally, and I
    am shocked why this coincidence didn’t came about in advance!

    I bookmarked it.

    elo boost lol Fr wrote on October 14th, 2014

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