fasting

Follow-up of water-only fasting and an exclusively plant food diet in the management of stage IIIa, lowgrade follicular lymphoma

Submitted on October 20, 2018 - 3:35pm

This is a 3 year follow-up report of a case that was originally published in British Medical Journal Case Reports in December 2015. 

Click on the file link below to read the full article.

Is fasting safe? A chart review of adverse events during medically supervised, water-only fasting

Submitted on October 20, 2018 - 3:30pm

ABSTRACT

Background: Evidence suggests that fasting, during which only water is consumed, results in potentially health promoting physiological effects. However, peer-reviewed research assessing the safety of water-only fasting is lacking. To address this, we conducted a chart review to describe adverse events (AEs) that occurred during medically supervised, water-only fasting.

Clinical Fasting

Submitted on July 28, 2017 - 1:56pm

This article originally appeared in Sonoma Medicine: the summer 2017 edition.  

Summary: Modern humans evolved while surviving prolonged periods without food and have voluntarily fasted for spiritual and therapeutic reasons since ancient times. Water-only fasting (complete abstinence from all foods and beverages except for pure water) is now used therapeutically to initiate physiological responses that may promote self-healing.

In a fasted state, increased autophagy (breakdown and recycling of damaged and non-essential tissue) provides a source of amino acids, fatty acids, and minerals, and the energy previously used for digestion may be directed towards cellular regeneration.

The physiological adaptations that occur in the fasted state may produce various health improvements. Clinical evidence in humans suggests that fasting may improve hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chemotherapy side effects, and quality of life.

Despite the possible good outcomes, water-only fasting is also not a cure or treatment in the traditional sense; it is simply intended to promote the body’s self-healing mechanisms. In order to maintain the results obtained by water-only fasting, it is necessary to adhere to a health-promoting lifestyle that includes a diet of minimally processed plant foods, adequate sleep, and robust physical exercise.  

To read the full article, please click on the attached file below here...

Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications

Submitted on April 13, 2015 - 10:38pm

This article originally appeared in Cell Metabolism 19, February 4, 2014

Authors: Valter D. Longo and Mark P. Mattson

Abstract: Fasting has been practiced for millennia, but, only recently, studies have shed light on its role in adaptive cellular responses that reduce oxidative damage and inflammation, optimize energy metabolism, and bolster cellular protection. In lower eukaryotes, chronic fasting extends longevity, in part, by reprogramming metabolic and stress resistance pathways. In rodents intermittent or periodic fasting protects against diabetes, cancers, heart disease, and neurodegeneration, while in humans it helps reduce obesity, hypertension, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. Thus, fasting has the potential to delay aging and help prevent and treat diseases while minimizing the side effects caused by chronic dietary interventions.

To read this article in its entirety (12 pages), please click here or on the attachment below.

Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss

Submitted on December 28, 2014 - 9:39am

Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss
A form of calorie restriction, intermittent fasting may help you lose those extra pounds.

By Jennifer Marano, D.C.

For many people, following a whole-food, plant-based diet is the key to maintaining optimum weight and health. However, for some of us, strictly adhering to a health-promoting diet as well as engaging in a regular exercise program is not enough to keep us where we want to be weight-wise. We just like eating too much; or perhaps we have extremely efficient digestive systems; or our internal calorie counters are a bit off. Whatever the reason, I and many others tend to maintain a body weight 5 to 10 pounds heavier than what would make us look and feel our best. I have been trying various tricks for years—decades, really—to get rid of those final pounds, and I think I have finally found the answer: intermittent fasting.

I have been involved with fasting for over 30 years as co-founder of TrueNorth Health, a fasting and health center in Northern California, and I am very familiar with the tremendous benefits of fasting for maintaining or restoring optimum health. But we have never recommended fasting as a solution for weight loss. It may jump-start a weight-loss program by resetting our appetite so that we enjoy health-promoting food; but maintaining optimum weight is done by consuming a proper diet every day, not by prolonged fasting followed by a return to bad dietary habits.

But what is a “proper diet”? Is it the same for everyone? Over the past few years I have read a lot about the value of intermittent fasting, both for weight control and general health, and what struck me from the beginning is that the daily eating habits we follow in the developed world—three meals a day supplemented by coffee breaks, mid-afternoon pick-me-ups, and evening nibbles—is a very recent development in human history. For most of the world this abundance of food has not been available until very recently; and in undeveloped areas it is still not the norm. But just mention that you are skipping a meal here and there, and you are met with looks of horror and comments about how unhealthy that is.

But is it unhealthy? What happens when we don’t eat for a period of time? We know that when we eat more than we need to maintain our function, the excess is stored as fat. This is one of the adaptations we possess to keep us going during times of scarcity. When food isn’t available we burn our stored fat to keep us going until we can locate more food. We need certain enzymes to help us store fat and other enzymes to help us mobilize our fat stores. But if we are eating all day long there is never a time when we need to burn fat. It takes 8 to 12 hours to digest and assimilate the food from a meal, so most people in the developed world really never have to mobilize fat. And if the body doesn’t need to do something, it tends to not maintain the equipment (think enzymes) necessary to do that task. You know what happens to your muscles if you don’t exercise. And you know what you have to do to get back into shape. The ability to burn fat waxes or wanes in response to use, just as your muscles respond to use after exercise. You can develop the enzyme systems that allow you to switch easily from burning glucose to burning fat, but it takes some time. And while you are developing them you feel hungry; sometimes very hungry. And it is uncomfortable. Even after you develop these systems you still feel hungry (although it isn’t quite as uncomfortable). But it’s okay—feeling hungry is okay.

What is Intermittent Fasting?
So what is intermittent fasting (IF)? How does it apply to humans? Why do it? What can it do for you? And how do you do it?

IF is a form of calorie restriction, which has been studied for a long time, mostly in animals like rats and mice. It was observed that animals fed a restricted diet lived a lot longer than animals allowed unlimited food. There are people who are practicing calorie restriction with the hope that they will greatly extend their lives. But it is a very uncomfortable way to live, and these people can become very gaunt and weak. Not very many are successful at maintaining this lifestyle. The difference between IF and calorie restriction is the “intermittent” part. Yes, calories are restricted, but only some of the time. And recent animal studies have shown that the benefits are actually greater for the intermittent fasters than for those on a calorie-restricted diet; they both live just as long, but the intermittent fasters don’t lose muscle mass or become stunted. And that makes all the difference when it comes to applying the idea of IF to human health and weight control.

Before getting into the various types of IF, I would like to say a little about the physiological changes that occur with IF and how they impact health. One change is that the level of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) goes down. High levels of IGF-1 in adults are associated with accelerated aging and development of cancer, so lowering this factor may be one explanation for the life-extension effects seen in animal studies. In addition, genes whose function is to repair are turned on by fasting. An organism needs to be in top shape during times of scarcity in order to successfully find food, so the stress of the fast causes this activation, much as the stress of drought or insect pests causes plants to produce more antioxidants. And a third effect is increased insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance is associated with type 2 diabetes, and high levels of circulating insulin lead to excessive fat storage. Keep these physiological changes in mind as we discuss the various forms of IF; it will increase your understanding of why IF works for weight loss and also why it can be a healthy lifestyle choice, even after you have reached your ideal weight.

The Alternate Day Fasting Plan
One popular form of IF is “alternate day fasting” (ADF, or ADMF for “alternate day modified feeding”). The modified feeding title refers to a system developed by researcher Dr. Krista Varady of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her system the fasting days actually involve eating a small meal (500 calories for women and 600 calories for men), while feeding days allow unrestricted eating. Dr. Varady found that, contrary to expectations, her subjects did not go crazy on feeding days. They tended to eat about 110% of what they would eat on a normal day before beginning ADMF. This makes ADMF a very effective weight loss program, but it has its difficulties, particularly socially. Friends and family have a hard time keeping track of when you are feeding and when you are fasting. But it is a good choice for people who have a large amount of weight to loose.

The 5:2 Plan
A more easily followed, yet still very effective version of IF is the “5:2 plan,” which was popularized by Dr. Michael Mosley with his Horizon TV program on BBC and in his excellent book, The Fast Diet. On this plan you choose two fast days a week (perhaps Monday and Thursday) when you will eat 500 to 600 calories. The other five days you eat whatever you want, but preferably a health-promoting diet. This plan has been studied extensively. In one study by Dr. Michelle Harvie in Manchester, England, three groups of women were compared for three months. Group 1 was asked to eat 1,500 calories a day on a Mediterranean diet. Group 2 followed a 5:2 plan, eating 650 calories of low-carbohydrate food on the two fast days. Group 3 was asked to avoid carbs two days a week, but was not given any specific calorie target. At the end of three months the 1,500-calorie group lost an average of 5.28 pounds, and the 5:2 groups lost an average of 8.8 pounds!

The Restricted Eating Window Plan
A third version of IF, perhaps the easiest to follow, is the “restricted eating window plan.” This method was based on a mouse study at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies where two groups of mice were each fed an unhealthy, high-fat diet. Each group received the same amount of food, but one group had constant access to the food, while the other group had to do all their eating in an eight-hour period each day and fast for the remaining 16 hours. After 100 days the “unlimited” group had high cholesterol, high blood glucose, and liver damage, while the “fasting” group put on 28% less weight and suffered less liver damage. The fasting group also had lower levels of inflammation, which we are learning is a very important factor in heart disease, cancer, stroke and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Intermittent fasting can be a powerful weight-loss tool with a bonus of improving your overall health. You can design your own program depending on your goals: ADMF if you have a lot of weight to lose, 5:2 as you get closer to your goal, and you can try a 6:1 plan when you get to your optimum weight so you can continue to reap the physiological benefits of IF. Or restrict your eating window to six or eight hours. If you get a bit off track you can throw in a 500- to 600-calorie day here and there. This approach is endlessly flexible—you just have to figure out what works best for you! And just remember: it’s okay to feel hungry.

 

Jennifer Marano, D.C., is a graduate of Western States Chiropractic College and along with her husband Dr. Alan Goldhamer is the co-founder of the TrueNorth Health Center in Santa Rosa, California.

Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications

Submitted on December 15, 2014 - 9:46am

This article originally appeared in the journal Cell Metabolism 19, February 4, 2014

Authors: Valter D. Longo and Mark P. Mattson

Fasting has been practiced for millennia, but, only recently, studies have shed light on its role in adaptive cellular responses that reduce oxidative damage and inflammation, optimize energy metabolism, and bolster cellular protection. In lower eukaryotes, chronic fasting extends longevity, in part, by reprogramming metabolic and stress resistance pathways. In rodents intermittent or periodic fasting protects against diabetes, cancers, heart disease, and neurodegeneration, while in humans it helps reduce obesity, hypertension, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. Thus, fasting has the potential to delay aging and help prevent and treat diseases while minimizing the side effects caused by chronic dietary interventions.

Introduction
In humans, fasting is achieved by ingesting no or minimal amounts of food and caloric beverages for periods that typically range from 12 hr to 3 weeks. Many religious groups incorporate periods of fasting into their rituals including Muslims, who fast from dawn until dusk during the month of Ramadan, and Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus, who traditionally fast on designated days of the week or calendar year. In many clinics, patients are now monitored by physicians while undergoing water only or very low calorie (less than 200 kcal/day) fasting periods lasting from 1 week or longer for weight management and for disease prevention and treatment.

To read the article in its entirety (9 pages), please click here or on the attachment below.

Jami Dulaney, MD interviews Dr. Goldhamer (podcast)

Submitted on October 22, 2014 - 10:47am

In this October 2014 audio podcast, Dr. Jami Dulaney and Dr. Alan Goldhamer discuss the benefits of water fasting to break the addiction of sugar, salt and oil as a means to transform into a lifelong nutrition plan of a plant based diet free of sugar, salt and oil. The message of this podcast is that people can take back their health and get off medications or avoid common diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

GQ Article: How the Terrible, Insufferable Six-Day Water Fast Made Me a New Man

Submitted on November 6, 2013 - 10:11pm

The below article was featured in the November 2013 issue of GQ Magazine.

 

What if there were a cure-all treatment for high blood pressure, migraines, chronic pain, arthritis, and, of yeah, fatness? The catch: You'll be really, really hungry. Ben Marcus spends a long and profoundly satisfying week on a strict diet of absolutely nothing but H2O.

DAY ONE: “HORIZONTAL IS YOUR FRIEND”
On my first morning at TrueNorth Health Center, the only medically supervised water-fasting clinic in America, a Dr. Michael Klaper shows up to check my vitals. He is tall and lean, with white hair and the glowing young face of the little brother I never had. He is either 75 years old and absurdly youthful or 30 with a case of premature white hair. A hunger artist? I want to see health and wellness on these premises, impossibly fit bodies with a blinding glow. Something post-human, to prove that fasting works. Dr. Klaper will do fine. He makes me think I can fast my way back to childhood. Maybe infancy. I could return home a smooth, cooing baby and see if my wife will still have me.

It's the first day of my six-day fast at TrueNorth, an anonymous-looking cluster of buildings on a quiet street in Santa Rosa, California. A water fast is not a juice fast or a honey-lemon-cayenne fast or any of the body-hacking protocols or superfood regimens, sometimes rich in calories, that are mistakenly called fasting, however cleansing they might be. This is hard-core, a diet of nothing, a full-body reboot. Dr. Klaper and his colleagues tout their regimen as a potent balm for not only weight and digestive problems but a litany of ailments that plague mankind. Detractors, including my wife, liken fasting to starvation, because without food we turn into ashen little wastrels, crying for help in tiny voices. Right?

Dr. Klaper tells me the rules. No leaving the grounds. I might get confused, or I might fall down. It turns out you get dizzy without food. “Horizontal is your friend,” the doctor advises me. Also, no toothpaste, no lotions or creams. And no showering. Not because they want me dirty, but, again, because I might slip and fall down.

Dr. Klaper takes my pulse and pronounces it “lovely.” He thumps my chest, sounding the cavity, and says my heart is normal-size. I shudder at either alternative.

A technician draws my blood. They're testing lipids, vitamin D, inflammation markers. I ask if they'll test for allergies, because I've always suspected I'm allergic to animals, plants, people, maybe even myself.

They can do that, Dr. Klaper says, but after hearing my description of the nose faucet I wake to every day, and the leaky, bloodshot eyes, he smiles and tells me not to bother with a test. Those symptoms will be gone after my fast.

I like this man.

The good doctor dismisses me, and I stroll outside to sit in the sunshine, waiting for hunger, watching the other fasters come and go. Some are here not to fast but to eat clean for a while, to see the doctors and maybe get some treatments. But the water fasters stand out, because they cling to the wall when they walk. They take the stairs slowly.

TrueNorth lacks the whorehouse comforts of a spa. There isn't even a pool, which seems to violate some central tenet of California apartment complexes. It feels more like a scientific-research center. There are daily lectures and cooking demos, and the guest rooms are stocked with DVDs of slightly NSFW health documentaries. Today at the clinic they showed a grim video called The Pleasure Trap, an unflinching lecture on why we eat, and eat, and f***ing eat, what isn't good for us. Salt, sugar, and fat, combined with chemicals in processed foods, trick the brain in the same way as cocaine, and the brain flushes our bodies with dopamine, perhaps the most blissful, and addictive, homemade chemical we have. Once we find a way to trigger it, we kill ourselves to get more. Literally.

That evening, with no dinner to cook, eat, and clean up, I prepare my water smoothie, made of nothing but distilled water, and turn on the Food Network. If I can't eat food, I'll watch some. On TV, pre-scandal Paula Deen and her son are making corn dogs, fried okra, croissant-dough muffins with caramelized pecans. These things look gorgeous and obscene, like the invented genitalia of a new species. But after watching The Pleasure Trap, it seems wrong to refer to this stuff as food. More like recreational drugs for the mouth, with nasty side effects like diabetes. Still, I'm drooling. I love these recreational drugs. I go to foreign countries just to try exotic versions. I'm a user. I do food.

Just not today, and, if I survive, not for the next five days.

DAY TWO: WHAT WOULD GANDHI DO?
When I first called to arrange my stay, the co-founder of TrueNorth, Alan Goldhamer, cautioned me about the difficulty of water fasting: “It can be an intense, miserable experience, but when people are successful they forgive us.”

On my second day of fasting, I wake up at 4 A.M. in an unforgiving mood. Rise and do not shine. Rise and moan. It's dark and cold. Once you take digestion out of the equation, you save tremendous energy, which can make you restless at all the wrong times. Like the middle of the night. I take my sad glass of water and weigh myself in the kitchen. I'm down three pounds from yesterday. And then I notice that there is something seriously wrong with the air.

Guests are asked not to use scented cosmetics, because fasters have, I'm told, heightened smell. This morning that fact hits hard. I smell breakfast. Maybe miles away. Down the road someone is whipping eggs in a bowl, touching them off with cream and herbs. Butter sizzles in a pan, and when those eggs seize in the hot fat, the smell hurtles up the street. Gandhi said to chew your water, but mine keeps sliding out of my mouth. I guzzle it instead.

Over lunch with Alan Goldhamer—his lunch, my water—he refers to water fasting as “doing nothing, intelligently.” Some of our most common diseases, he claims, including diabetes, hypertension, some forms of heart disease, asthma, arthritis, and certain autoimmune conditions, are diseases of excess, not deficiency. They used to be called the diseases of kings, since only the wealthy could afford to shovel down ultra-rich, low-nutrient food in banquet quantities. Peasants did not get diabetes. Of course, this was before processed food, which is often the cheapest thing to “eat” now, and also the most damaging. Too much of this toxic stuff overloads our livers and kidneys, whose job it is to get rid of waste. As this material accumulates in our system, it can lead to inflammation and sickness. Fasting, the theory goes, treats these diseases by purging the excess. The digestive system gets a rest.

But how do we survive without nutrients? Some doctors argue that fasting is a counterproductive detox tool, robbing the body of the nutrition it needs to effectively cleanse itself. But our bodies are designed for scarcity, or at least well prepared for it. We store fat, and store it, and store it—sometimes renting a whole bunch of extra storage space inside our backs and bellies and asses—precisely because our bodies might need it someday, when the food is gone.

There are, of course, downsides to relying solely on your natural larder. So far they include vicious headaches, dizziness, and a sad, hollow feeling that water does not soothe. But I still want this, mostly for what might wait for me on the other side, when I get my food back. I don't have diabetes, and I'm not fasting to lose weight. I played contact sports in school, and now, in my middle forties, it hurts. I have a ripped-up knee, a trick neck, toes that feel stiff all the time. Sure, I wouldn't mind losing a few pounds, but mainly I'm fasting to relieve my chronic pain, a body ruled by arthritis and a paralyzing nerve disorder that cold-cocked me a couple of years ago.

One morning back in 2011, I woke to searing pain in my arms. A flamethrower directed at my arms is what it felt like. The hospital offered morphine, but one shot did nothing. A second and then a third shot only made me sob more quietly. Finally Dilaudid, at ten times morphine's strength, cooled off the pain. Several doctors and hospitals later, I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease in which the nerves that branch from the neck and power the arms are bulldozed by the immune system. There's no cure, just a blitz of medicines to blanket the suffering. So I embarked on a grisly medical protocol: monster doses of steroids, antiseizure agents for nerve pain, and a lot of craft beer, ice cream, and chocolate for the larger problem of what it now felt like to be me.

I've since weaned myself off the steroids and quit the nerve-pain drugs. But a disease like that, out of nowhere, coming on hard and weird, makes you wonder not just what the hell happened but what exactly you can do to stop it from happening again. I'd tried the brutal meds, and now it was time to try the absence of them, the absence of everything. I was ready, or so I thought, to take the nothing cure.

DAY THREE: BED, BOREDOM, BATHROOM
Fuuuuuuck.

Life without food is darkness and headaches and restlessness. I can't sleep. I can't read. Music—even soft, ridiculously washy music—seems jarring.

My wife calls and asks how it's going at Camp Starvation: Am I dead yet? Not dead, but pissing the day away. Pissing on the hour and the minute and the second. If all else goes bust here, at least my man-Kegels will be super ripped.

I hadn't bargained for so much bed rest, and if you can't sleep or have sex in a bed, it's just a slightly softer floor, and you're lying on it in the middle of your room, starving, wondering when they will come and find you.

DAY FOUR: PROGRESS? MAYBE?
I wake up feeling slightly better, if hollow and weak. My headache is nearly gone, and I've lost another three pounds. My stomach growls so slowly I can almost pick out words. Weirdly, though, I am not hungry. Shouldn't my body be tweaking with hunger right now? Apparently it should not. This is just the physiology of fasting at work. Even though I'm eating nothing, I am feeding very well, thank you. On my own damn self.

DAY FIVE: DRAWING THE LINE AT SALT
I've lost twelve pounds. They say it's mostly water weight. Why am I carrying around all that water? Dr. Klaper lectures me on salt, a piece of nutritional apocalypse he clearly enjoys sharing. When you eat too much salt, your blood gets saltier, so your brain tells your body it's thirsty. So you drink more water, diluting your salty blood, and with more blood pumping through your system, you get high blood pressure. Boom.

I blink at him hopefully. There must be a loophole. Please? My wife packs a little Ziploc of Maldon sea salt whenever we leave the house, and we litter it over even perfect bowls of food, like ice cream. Klaper and I will have to disagree here, even though he has decades of credentials and experience over me.

DAY SIX: I WAS FAMISHED BUT NOW I SEE
On my final day without food, I wake up at 5 A.M. I slept in! And all of a sudden, I feel tremendous. Light, energetic, unreasonably cheerful. This is maybe the runner's high of fasting, and it's hit me just as my fast is ending.

Throughout my stay, a six-day fast has been regarded with amused smiles. Pathetic amateur, they don't say. One doctor says everyone should do a long fast at least once in their lives. What's long, I ask. Twentyone days. Maybe thirty. Now I see the appeal. Once you get over the misery of the first few days, things start to look up and you get this feeling that something profoundly necessary is happening inside you. I've lost sixteen pounds, and a deep bend at the knees is surprisingly pain-free. My hands no longer ache. My skin is clear. The whites of my eyes look Photoshopped.

Dr. Klaper comes by to discuss my food plan going forward. A water fast is pointless if you kill it with a cheeseburger. In the morning I'll have a juice of watermelon and celery, some grapes and melon at lunch. For dinner I get something they refer to as sloppy, wet greens. Perhaps they did not want to use the word watery.

Then we discuss what I'll eat when I get home and, ideally, for the rest of my life. It's pretty clear now what's really being promoted at TrueNorth. Fasting is not the star but just a tool to get you to radically change the way you eat. They call it a plant-strong diet. I call it vegan minus joy, where joy equals salt, sugar, and oil. Processed foods are out, and so is anything scooped from an animal's body, however local or hand-groomed the beast was. Some people would rather die than eat this way. Actually, if you believe that the diseases of kings are nutritional diseases, diseases of excess—some do. In ever increasing numbers.

DAY SEVEN: (AND BEYOND)
On my first morning among the eaters, down seventeen pounds, it takes me an hour to drink my juice. The mouthfeel of this liquid is superior. Why even swallow? But when I do feel that juice roll down my throat, it's killingly decadent, as delicious as anything I've ever tasted, and the calories hit me like a jolt. I feel brand-new.

I re-feed slowly, as advised, but it takes me days to feel deeply hungry again. That ache and itch I used to have in my mouth, only to be soothed by salt and sugar and fat, is gone. My arthritis has eased up, too. My blood pressure, usually around 125/80, is now 95/69. Dr. Klaper says I have the stats of a teenage boy. Not quite the infant I was shooting for, but it's close.

It's time to go, and what I feel most strongly is that I could have fasted longer. A week more, maybe two. On the flight back my ears pop, easily, and the noise rushes in. My ears have never popped well in the air, and the pleasure of this effortless head-clearing is nearly sexual. It feels like someone has Hoovered out my sinuses.

When I get home, I'm still pecking lightly at food, suspicious. Every meal looks like my undoing. Salt looks like lye. Oil looks, well, really oily. We eat that why? Oh yeah, because it's a thick golden pleasure-delivery system. I take the stairs down to the street, and something is different. They've redone the steps in my building. They're easier, almost horizontal. But of course they aren't. It's me who's easier. I have no pain in my toes or knees, and I can make a fist, no problem. It's days after my water fast ended, I've been eating solid food again, and it would seem that my arthritis is really gone.

But it's hard to believe this sudden absence of pain will last. Maybe the fasting spooked my system, scared me out of pain. Check with me after the extreme reverse fast I face now that I'm home: the summerbarbecue months. And that's the problem. If there's a downside, it's not with the fasting itself. It's that the diet required to sustain the tremendous effects of a fast is rigorously difficult and, for many, probably unrealistic. The challenge in the kitchen is how you get to delicious—or maybe how you learn not to care, which is too grim to contemplate. Fasting helps kill your cravings, and it stokes your passion for fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. To a certain degree. But what I notice is that I start to look at food as medicine, and the decisions I make at mealtimes have to do with what kind of medicine I want to be taking: the clean, bland kind with maximum benefits and zero negative side effects, or the lewdly delicious bad medicine with too many side effects to name?

There's a deep canyon between the real world, or at least my real world, and the spartan ways of the plantbased whole-foods diet. If I lived alone and shopped and cooked for one and had no life, this would be a cinch. If this sounds like I'm blaming my friends, I probably am. For now, I'm going to see if that old, sad approach called moderation has any sway here. It's never worked for me before. I tend to want my cake and your whole family's cake, too. But if I feel the pain coming back, seizing my joints, I know now that I won't be reaching for pills. Particularly when doing nothing at all seems to work so much better.

BEN MARCUS's next book, a story collection called Leaving the Sea, comes out in January. This is his first article for GQ.

(Click on the attachment below for a PDF of this article)

 

 

 

Fasting at the TrueNorth Health Center goes mainstream with an article featured in this month’s GQ magazine. Click here to read the entire article.