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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.  

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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.