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Let less food be your medicine

On November 9th, 2018

When it comes to diet, it’s now clear that one size doesn’t fit all. Different people have different metabolic types, so meat that is life-saving to some and sheer poison to others.

We also have very different levels of the fat hormones leptin and ghrelin, which regulate appetite and fat levels, and appear to play an essential role in regaining lost pounds after a severe weight-loss regime.

Even the state of your microbiome, and the particular bugs that inhabit it, can play a big part in whether or not you can easily reverse illness or lose weight.

Then there are individual reactions and intolerances, even to healthy foods.

Several years ago, two scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel carried out a unique study of 800 people, attempting to identify which foods caused blood sugar spikes after meals. They’d hoped to determine the foods and dietary factors responsible for the worldwide epidemics of obesity and diabetes.

The problem was, they found no single uniform response to any food, even sugar.

Virtually everyone in the study had highly individual reactions to plates of food put in front of them. One prediabetic woman cut out all offending foods, but still couldn’t control her blood sugar until she discovered that the true culprits causing her own spikes were tomatoes.

Certainly more and more forward-thinking doctors and naturopaths are turning to the paleo diet to heal chronic conditions.

Less is more

But if I had to choose a single diet that is essentially good for almost everyone it would be the not-eating diet—at least for a spell.

New evidence shows that the ultimate one-size-fits-all diet for restoring full health is either a short-term fast on water or liquids or intermittent fasting—controlling not simply what you eat, but when you eat.

Giving your body a short break from food affords it a chance to do a major clear-out, breaking down old and possibly defective cells and consuming them.

Monitored water or juice fasts have been shown to reduce aging and to prevent or heal cancer, dementia, arthritis, high blood pressure, and other conditions that lead to heart disease. It even helps to target chemotherapy more successfully, suggesting that the standard medical advice to cancer patients, to consume lots sugar-laden food to keep their weight up, is completely counterproductive.

But water- or juice-only fasts need to be monitored and short term. And they aren’t a successful means of losing weight. Usually, any weight loss is short term, and the body, which goes into starvation mode, slows down its metabolic processes.

Timed intervals

The latest tweak on fasting is intermittent fasting. Researchers are discovering that leaving a larger span of time between your last meal of the day and the first one the following day also has an extraordinary number of health benefits, including weight loss, without the difficulty of depriving yourself of food.

Pushing breakfast to noontime, cutting out dinner or eating your meals during an eight-hour window has been shown to decrease not only blood glucose levels but also evidence of inflammation in the body.

In many animal and human studies, periodic fasting has shown exciting evidence of protection against a vast array of degenerative diseases and even brain seizures. And perhaps most exciting of all, it appears to help cells regenerate themselves, including in the brain.

Diets where you focus on restricting both the amount and types of foods during certain periods are showing extraordinary benefits, not only for weight loss, aging and a host of diseases, but even bone renewal.

Of course, there are certain people who should never fast. Pregnant women, type 1 diabetics, those with liver disease and others come to mind. You need to work with a qualified professional, and you need to know how to prepare your body for a fast and then how to start re-introducing food.

My late friend nutritional pioneer Annemarie Colbin once told me of a woman who, convinced that a fast would cure her long-standing health problems, embarked on her own strict liquid-only fast, trudging through the freezing New York weather without sustenance for months, only to find that she was more ill than she had been before she began

But given the longevity research showing that many people living in the Blue Zones, those areas like Okinawa in Japan and Sardinia in Italy with the longest-living people on earth, eat 10–40 percent fewer calories than the Western average, we might all do well to adopt the Okinawan blessing at dinner time as our New Year’s resolution: Hara hachi bu. 

“May you eat until you are eight-tenths full.”

Comments

comments

6 responses to “Let less food be your medicine”

  1. Helene says:

    I started Intermittent fasting 18 months ago out of solidarity with an ill friend. I fast from 7 pm till approx 11 am and it soon became a life style. Why? Because the benefits were evident: Years of recurring Herpes disappeared, weight balanced, cravings disappeared, grey hair stopped... But first and foremost: I feel light inside out. Clean and easy breathing. Thanks for your article.

  2. Tammy says:

    According to the research done by Dr. Jason Fung, (nephrologist and author of The Obesity Code, The Ultimate Guide to Fasting and The Diabetes Code) once the body is fat burning, contrary to what was previously understood, metabolism actually increases.

  3. I agree completely with intermittent fasting. I used to eat early til late and was putting on extra kilos every year. Now I eat from 1-9pm and feel so much better for it, I weigh less and have more energy too.

  4. Diane says:

    Thank you for this article! Fasting or eating less feels natural at times but our society is so food focused. There is an emphasis on eating 3 "square" meals a day and most are large (restaurant style) enough to feed several people. Your article validates what I've been feeling would be healthier for my body.

  5. Linda jenkins says:

    Well when I went on a juice and supplement fast at
    Thai health spa I lost a lot of my hair afterwards
    and a trichologist guessed correctly I had been
    on a detox

  6. andy says:

    Nutrition is a foundational thing. Start with fresh grown veggies (non-gmo, organic), grass fed meat (if carnivorous and you cant go wrong.
    The problem is that you cant find good food everywhere and you are stuck with Monsantos glyphosates from round up drifting into organic crops and causing gut bacteria in humans to reject foods and not digest them. A huge difference exists between a great gut flora and a horrible gut flora in humans.
    Thing about this mothers transfer their gut flora to their children, so mothers in the early part of the 20th century never knew the chemicals and crap we have today, and at some point the kids starting eating processed foods that had their fiber removed and carbohydrates (sugars especially) increased for shelf life and taste that then increased candida and gut bacteria that was not beneficial to humans. Those kids had kids of their own and now mama is passing on horrible gut bacteria and having C sections where less of the bacteria is transfered and we do MMR vaccinations and have wifi everywhere and this results in autistism cases going off the charts. Change the diet, get rid of screens and autistic kids get better but the harm is still done.
    So will everyone react the same to foods, never. But it is a proven fact that hormones rule the school and insulin resistance will cause diabetes, obesity and all the metabolic diseases that they DOCs claim they can only manage but not cure.
    Fasting will cure them, will lower high blood pressure, will get rid of inflammation, causing joint pains, arthritis, etc. So...a keto diet and or fasting will be much healthier for you if your living in that kind of pain and help get it under control, (then you can go back to limited carbs and have your insulin levels normalize and function correctly.
    Food Is the foundation for health. But today its much more complicated than in Hippocrates time, he didn't have Monsanto and corporate farming, cow jails, and the like to deal with.

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