Fasting has been honored for centuries as a potent therapy for purification and cleansing. A multiple day water fast is intimidating for many and often not a sustainable option for others. The good news is an Intermittent fast as simple as 12-18 hours can still do wonders for our bodies! Because these shorter fasts are so easy, incorporating them on a daily or weekly basis improves the outcomes significantly.
The positive health effects of fasting are many and far reaching, but some of my favorite benefits are the detoxifying and gut healing properties. Fasting is very detoxifying for our bodies because during that time our body is able to divert energy usually used for digesting food, towards clearing out old cellular debris. Autophagy is a naturally occurring process in our body where old and poor functioning cells are cleared out in order to be replaced with fresh new ones. It is constantly happening in our body and crucial for our vitality. This process is energetically expensive and can be downgraded in it’s efficiency when things such as chronic stress, illness, and dehydration occur. Fasting is a great way to upregulate our autophagy process and detoxification!
In addition to detoxification, short fasts are also excellent for supporting gut healing and clearing. These fasts allow for debris to be digested, assimilated, and eliminated. When the gut has an opportunity to be empty, it gives the epithelial lining in our intestines the break it needs to make new cells. Some of the fastest cellular turnover occurs in our large and small intestine as it is constantly being bombarded with irritants from our foods. When we remove the irritants, this tissue is able to rejuvenate itself with fresh healthy cells that are ready to support our body!
So how does one do an intermittent fast, and is it safe for everyone?
A great benefit to intermittent fasting is that it’s customizable to your own eating schedule preferences. Whenever your prefer to have your last meal in the evening, allow for at least 12 hours before you eat again. For those that are comfortable eating an early dinner, it is very easy to reach a 15-18 hour fast without even trying. For example, if you eat dinner around 5:00 pm and don’t eat breakfast until around 9:00 am you have just had a 16 hour fast with very little effort. If doing a longer fast is something you would like to try, I have a trick for you. Having a cup of warm lemon water in the morning followed by coffee or tea with added collagen peptides and a little bit of MCT oil or coconut oil with give you a little bit of healthy fat and protein so that your body is not stressed. This will allow you to reach a longer fast without feeling jittery, weak, or hangry.
Remember when fasting, start off slowly and work your way up. Your first fast should be around 12-13 hours. See how you feel after that, and slowly build up over time to longer fasting. It’s also very important to be properly hydrated when fasting. Drink plenty of water throughout the day before and the morning of. You can try adding a pinch of pink himalayan sea salt to your water for extra electrolytes.
It’s important to note that intermittent fasting is not beneficial for everyone. Those with diabetes, challenges with blood sugar regulation, hypoglycemia, or a history of eating disorders should avoid fasting or work closely with a health practitioner when attempting one.
Adding intermittent fasting daily or weekly is a simple, inexpensive, and potent way to support your health and longevity.
Sarah Burdette is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner trained and certified by the Nutritional Therapy Association. She applies principles of therapeutic nutrition and lifestyle changes to help you heal through food and feel more vital, energized and whole, from the inside out.