Wellness

Fasting – It’s the Big Trend

You probably have some friend on Facebook promoting fasting.  I know I do.  So what is with all this fasting talk?

How People Fast

If you do a Google search for the word “fasting,” you will get about 43 million hits.  You can find rules for fasting, and lots of articles on intermittent fasting (at least right now – that’s the popular way to fast right now).  Most religions have some sort of fast, which can range from one day to a month long (with the fast broken at dinner).

Intermittent fast, which is very popular right now, really is not just one way to fast.  Many styles fall under the umbrella of intermittent fasting.  Sometimes it means extending the time between dinner and breakfast (or whatever the first meal of the day is).  Other people will chose a day or days each week to fast completely for the entire day.  I feel like intermittent fasting is heavily promoted right now because it is not as hard to do as complete fasts.  If you can eat your dinner earlier in the evening (and not eat after dinner), and push your breakfast until later in the morning, you are doing an intermittent fast.

fasting, water

Why Fast

Obviously when people fast for religious reasons, there is a hope for spiritual growth or enlightenment.  However, I think the majority of the promotion of fasting right now is for health. One of the most highly promoted reasons is for weight loss.  With obesity rates continuing to increase, methods and gimmicks for weight loss continue to be everywhere.  Some research is showing that intermittent fasting can help with moderate weight loss – if you do not increase the amount you eat while not fasting.

One reason why people fast is for improvement of overall body function.  Cells repair themselves when they are at rest.  Sleep is important.  In addition, if we are eating constantly, some of our cells (GI tract, liver, pancreas) never get a rest.  In addition, hormones, like insulin and growth hormone are optimized by fasting.

Some research is showing that intermittent fasting can help with oxidative stress (this is the damage that is done to body cells that can be prevented by eating foods that are high in antioxidants).  In addition, it also appears to help the body respond to inflammation.  In addition to inflammation being the cause of redness, burning and tenderness when you get a cut, inflammation can also lead to long-term conditions like migraine, joint pain, eczema, and even diabetes and heart disease.

The Science of Fasting

Last night, the hubby and I watched a documentary on Amazon called “The Science of Fasting.”  This covers a more extreme type of fasting.  It starts with a medical center in Russia, where people typically go and fast on water only for a period of around 21 days.  In addition to the fasting, patients also exercise for 2-3 hours per day, utilize a natural hot spring, sauna, and have colonics.  Next, the documentary moves on to Germany.  It seems like the treatment and duration are similar here.

One thing that struck me as interesting about both of these, is that the people who come to the “clinics” were suffering from conditions of inflammation – arthritis, eczema, diabetes.  These conditions of inflammation are also the target of our food sensitivity test and diet.  In addition, people at those clinics fast for a period of 2-3 weeks.  I have learned in my food sensitivity training that the immune system will start to calm down in this time.

The other notable thing from these two programs was the use of detoxification.  Sweating, whether from exercise or a sauna, helps the body to get rid of toxins.  So basically, these two programs are combining reducing immune system stimulation with removing toxins in the body.

fasting, broth

The Germany program briefly talked about reintroducing food after the fast, and both programs emphasized the importance of having medical supervision.  Both of these areas left me wanting more.  Maybe I will get to go to Germany and learn details from the program.  I would love to know what exactly is being monitored, and, of course, how they reintroduce food.  We reintroduce food based on an objective measure of how the body responds to specific foods and chemicals.

Fasting and Cancer

After the general information about fasting clinics in other countries, the documentary moves on a Southern California.  Researchers here are looking at how fasting impacts the body, and specifically applying it to cancer treatment.  While the other programs use fasting as the treatment for conditions, here they are using fasting to enhance treatment.  There were fascinating stories of people who fasted before chemotherapy, and it minimized the side effects of chemotherapy.  They also showed how fasting put the healthy body cells into “protection mode,” but made the cancer cells more likely to be killed by the chemotherapy drugs.  Having lost my mother to breast cancer, this was especially interesting to me.

Fast Responsibly

Fasting is not for everyone.  And it shouldn’t be entered into lightly.  It appears that there are health benefits to intermittent as well as longer-term fasting.  People who have disordered eating or an eating disorder should likely not start a fast.  Regardless of medical history, I highly recommend discussing with a knowledgeable health professional before starting any fasting program.

Is it Beneficial?

Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. 1 Corinthians 10:23 CSB

Perhaps you have heard that statement before.  It comes from one of the all-time most read books ever written.  When I think of this verse, it makes me think of a motto of the American Dietetic Association (now Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) from when I was in school.  (And vice versa, when I hear that motto, I think of this verse.)

What is that motto?  “All foods can fit.”  It was the mantra of the 2000s.  American Dietetic Association position papers from 2002 and 2007 on “communicating food and nutrition information” both promote this idea.

beneficial, apple, Cheetos, chips
U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Grace Lee

No Guilt, No Shame

On the one hand, it is a great concept.  It is not my job to make anyone feel guilty about their food choices.  I eat Fritos.  I even made some amazing sugar cookies that I will share with you someday.  There are also political reasons for taking this stance, but I will choose to not talk about that right now.

Another great reason to take that position is that nutrition is a baby science.  People have been studying physics and chemistry for centuries.  We have only been studying nutrition for about 200 years.  (I know, that sounds like a long time.  But other sciences have been studies 5 times as long.)

Cause and effect are very hard to study, and it is even harder to isolate it to a single food or nutrient.  And this is why one day eggs (or butter, coffee, chocolate…) are bad, and the next they are good.  (By the way, if you don’t mind hearing profanity, you should check out John Oliver explaining science.)

Allowed vs. Beneficial

But, just because something is “allowed,” does that make it beneficial?  Let’s start out with something fairly easy: chocolate.  Chocolate comes from cocoa.  It has some phytochemicals that provide health benefits.  If you Google it, there are varying answers to how much will lead to health benefits.  However, when I did my Mediator Release Test, I was moderately reactive – chocolate could be causing me migraines.  The horror!

beneficial, mint, peppermint, migraine, headache, painAnother one to consider is peppermint.  Google it, and you can find a whole list of conditions for which peppermint is beneficial (including headaches and migraine).  But is it beneficial for me?  Absolutely not!  It was one of two things that I am highly reactive to.  After eliminating it for a few months, I used some regular toothpaste one time.  Boom – migraine.

So, while many will still tell you that all foods can fit, I will tell you that you can choose whatever you want, but not all foods are beneficial.

Another New Year

Can you believe it is already another new year?  I’m sure many of us are ready to say good riddance to 2017, but seriously, where does the time go?  It’s that time again – time for New Year’s resolutions.  What kind of resolution maker are you?  Do you make big resolutions that you never keep? Or small ones that you know you can keep with little effort?  Maybe you do not make any at all.  Resolutions are good, because they help us to grow into a better version of ourselves.  But we need to make sure to set ourselves up for success.  The words that we use to describe our goals (or resolutions) are key helping us succeed (but you still have to do the work!).

Specific

bullseye, specific, new year, resolution, goalThe first step in writing your resolution is to make it specific.  Sure, we all want less pain, but how much less?  Less of a certain type of pain?  Maybe you want to reduce the number of headache days per month.  Perhaps you want your fibromyalgia or arthritis to reduce so that you can walk two days per week.  Maybe you want to reduce the number of days each month that you take pain medication.  The choice is up to you – just make sure that you can identify what it is that you want.  If this step is difficult, ask a friend or family member for help.  Just make sure that whatever you choose is something that you really want.

Measurable

 

measurable, checklist, new year, resolution, goalsNext, we need to make sure we can measure the goal.  How will you know that you have there if you don’t know where “there” is?  This goes back to being specific.  How many days?  How much less?  Sometimes it seems easier to not make it measurable.  If I do not say how much better, then I could have achieved it with any amount.  But that also means that there isn’t a clear goal.  Is one less headache day acceptable, when you are having 15 headache days/ month?  Maybe.  I am not here to judge your goals – just help you set them.  We have tools that can help you measure changes in your health.

Achievable

finish line, goal, achievable, new year
(U.S. Air Force illustration by 2nd Lt. Kaitlin Daddona/Released).

We want you to succeed with your goals.  In order for that to happen, you have to be able to achieve them.  It seems unrealistic for me to say that I will have no more headache days.  But I can definitely reduce them.  I never thought that before.  Even the doctors didn’t seem to think it was possible.  But it was.  I no longer take daily medicine.  It is great!

We also want to make sure that the goal is a little bit of a stretch.  Do you eat out every meal?  Could you cook at home two times per week?  Let’s make that goal enough of a stretch to help you grow, without being so difficult that you could never achieve it.

 

Realistic

realistic, goal, new year, mirrorMaybe you want to exercise, because you know it is good for you.  You want to have the energy to keep up with your kids.  The exercise recommendations for adults are at least 150 minutes per week.  That’s a great goal, but is it realistic when you are in chronic pain, and maybe have not exercised in year?  Probably not.  Set a goal that works for you – not anyone else.  Do not measure your success compared to anyone else.  Only measure yourself against where you came from.

 

Timely

clock, timely, new year, goalsSometimes called time-bound, there needs to be a time frame attached to your goals.  Ideally, it should be something that you want to do now.  Setting goals with a later time frame makes you less likely to try to work on them.  If you have multiple goals, they could build on one another.  For instance, maybe you would like to exercise, but you have no idea how you could with your current level of pain.  The first goal could be to reduce your pain enough to exercise.  Then you could add a goal on exercising two days per week.

 

Enlist Help

Sometimes we can achieve our goals on our own.  Other times we need help.  We would love to help you find your best health in 2018.

All I Want for Christmas

It Started With Alkaline Water

A few months ago, my husband became interested in alkaline water.  He was talking about a system that cost $5000.  Before I spent that kind of money (which I probably wouldn’t have anyway), I wanted to see if there was any validity to the benefits of alkaline water (it seems to be a debatable topic).  My searching took me to the Environmental Working Group’s web page on water quality.  I have known for years that I wanted some sort of water softener – our water in Phoenix is incredibly hard!  (The calcium and magnesium in the water are actually good for your health, but bad for your pipes.) In my searching, I found that our water contains the following chemicals above “acceptable” levels for health: arsenic, bromate, chlorite, hexavalent chromium, radiological contaminants, and trihalomethanes.  (Want to find out what’s in your water?)  After reading that, I was very motivated to clean up the water in our house.

water

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

So, I decided to order a whole house water filter and salt-free softener.  It was our family Christmas gift.  After ordering it, I saw a video with Dr. Deanna Minich.  She stated that the #1 thing she would do to reduce toxins was clean up her water.  I was so excited.  I was already working on the best way to reduce toxins.

The instructions said that anyone with basic plumbing knowledge could install it.  The directions were not much more helpful than that.  But, I thought, we are smart people.  We can do this.  So, on Saturday, we cut into our plumbing and started to put it together.  This first attempt (that’s right) looked like this:

water

After we turned it on, we had leaks.  Almost everywhere.  It was 9 pm.  We headed to a hotel.  After a good night’s sleep, we tackled the project again.  My husband did not want to do PVC again.  So he took a new attempt (and kept the one section of PVC that wasn’t leaking – yet).  Attempt #2 went a little faster, and worked for ~36 hours.

water

Yesterday, the one PVC section started leaking, so it got replaced.  Hopefully this works.  If not, I guess we have to hire someone who know that they are actually doing.  The hubby and I joke that this is the gift that keeps on giving.  It is giving us lots of trips to the hardware store.  He said yesterday was trip #23.  Our daughter said it was only #10.  Once we get it working and not leaking, it will be the gift that keeps giving us clean water for the entire house.  No more brushing our teeth or showering in contaminated water.

Do You Give Thanks?

Gracias. Merci. Dankie. Shukran. Hvala. Danke. Mahalo. Grazie. Arigato. Obrigado.

thanks

November is the month of thankfulness.  All of a sudden, Facebook news feeds blow up with thankfulness challenges.  Then, on December 1, it all gets put on the proverbial shelf for 11 months.

If you follow various methods of self-help and/ or personal development, gratitude, or saying thanks, is often emphasized.  Sometimes it is promoted as the key to get what you want.  (I mean, just think about young children – they often get what they want simply based on attitude and how they ask.)

Sometimes gratitude can be a struggle when you are in frequent or constant pain, believing that good can come of the situation or being thankful can be difficult.  However, one way to deal with physical (or emotional) pain is to distract the mind.  A great distraction technique is to start thinking of things to give thanks for.  So, what are you thankful for?