Intermittent fasting essentially means going periods of time without eating. It has been shown to have therapeutic benefits for certain conditions, but does this mean it’s a good idea for everyone? Let’s discuss some key indicators that can help you determine if fasting is right for you.
If you need help determining if fasting is right for you, click here.
Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hi, this is Dr. Ruscio and let’s discuss if fasting is right for you. Now, fasting or, as it’s also known as intermittent fasting, is essentially taking a period of time where you don’t eat food or perhaps consume some type of liquid like tea.
So there are different types of fasts. There is a water fast. There is a water or tea fast. People can also fast with coffee and fat. Some people advise and find success with making coffee and adding to it butter or coconut oil or medium chain triglycerides.
There are also things like fasting on bone broth or even using other liquid fasts like elemental diets or what’s known as the master’s cleanse which is essentially a mixture of fresh squeezed lemon juice, water, a little bit of maple syrup, and cayenne pepper.
There are different types of fasts that can be used. Probably the easiest would just be doing a water fast or a tea fast.
And they can be very effective for metabolic-type conditions. Now, these are conditions where insulin is usually the main culprit. These are things like high blood pressure, being overweight or being obese, having high triglycerides, fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome, also high blood pressure.
So these syndromes tend to be because of high insulin. These are the types of interventions that fasting can be the best for.
But what about people for whom fasting is the most risky or the most prone to be problematic? Well, at the other end of the spectrum, we have people that exhibit signs of being burnt out. It has different labels that are used. Things like adrenal fatigue can be used, chronic fatigue syndrome, burn out, high allostatic load.
But essentially, if you’re someone who has a lot of fatigue or is under a lot of stress or you just feel generally very depleted, then fasting may not be good for you. Also, if you’re underweight, then of course fasting may not be great for you, because in this population of people it’s more so cortisol or stress hormones that are a problem. And while fasting can be very beneficial, it does call on the body to increase the levels of stress hormones.
So to paint kind of a spectrum, the end of the spectrum that has the highest likelihood to do well with fasting is those with high insulin related disorders or metabolic disorders—overweight, obesity, high triglycerides, fatty liver disease, high blood pressure.
At the other end of the spectrum, the people who have the highest chance of not doing well on fasting are people that have adrenal fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome or burn out or high allostatic load or are under high amounts of stress at the other end—so fatigue, insomnia, feeling burnt out, feeling depleted, feeling exhausted, and also those who are underweight.
Now, in the middle, there are those who have gastrointestinal conditions like IBS and IBD. And oftentimes for these people, a modified type of fast is really the best. And so a modified fast is where you consume some sort of nutrient liquid.
And elemental diets or semi-elemental diets are essentially very hypoallergenic, gut-friendly, meal replacement shakes that you can make that are very fasting-like, in terms that they’re very easy to digest, but you have some calories so you don’t go into that stress hormone response that can be a problem for some people.
So we have a spectrum of people that may respond differently. Metabolic conditions will respond the best. People with digestive conditions may do well. People with burn out or adrenal fatigue or chronic fatigue may not do very well.
There are different types that can be used. The easiest is a water fast or a tea fast. There is also using something like bone broth or the master’s cleanse solution which gives you a little bit of nutrition. And all the way at the other end of the spectrum, there are these elemental or semi-elemental diets which are hypoallergenic meal replacements that will prevent you from going into the stress response that fasting can do but will also be able to achieve a fasting-like break for the gut and give the gut a rest if the gut needs a rest.
So there are different types of solutions that can be used for fasting, and there are different people who can use the fasts. Hopefully, some of these guidelines will help you figure out where you fit in this whole conversation.
The other thing that people often have questions about is the length. And fasting can be done anywhere from skipping a meal to going several days without food. So some people may just skip breakfast, eat lunch and dinner. Some people may skip breakfast and lunch and eat dinner. Other people may skip the entire day and then start with breakfast the next day.
Typically, the more severe the condition, the longer the fast. But the longer the fast, the higher the risk. And it’s a better idea to check in and be supervised if you’re going to do a fast over a day, in my opinion.
So anyway, to the question, “Is fasting right for you?” it could be. It just depends on what type of fast you use and what kind of conditions that you have and how that pertains to the spectrum that we outlined.
So this is Dr. Ruscio. And I hope this information helps you get healthy and get back to your life. Thanks!
If you need help determining if fasting is right for you,click here.
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