It has been nearly 4 months since my first water fast and I am happy to report that the weight has stayed off. My stomach is flat and my waist is as small as it has ever been. In fact, I have practiced 2 more week-long water fasts since then with interesting results. After each fast I lost between 10-15lbs (although some of that was water weight). It is recommended that one wait at least 3 weeks in between long term (7-day) water fasts back to back. Here's what I discovered...
During the first fast my throat hurt because the water in Austin is fairly high in minerals; therefore, Austin tap water is much harsher on the skin than what I was accustomed to. I discovered Austin tap water may have been responsible for my skin dermatitis which seems to have abated since switching my drinking water to purified/filtered water (Thank God!). After a day or so my hunger simply went away. Anytime I felt hungry, I just drank a glass of water. No loss in muscle mass or strength! The second and third fasts were significantly easier. You get to eat whatever you want after fasting!
Furthermore, an interesting side effect of fasting is autophagy (auto = self & phagocytosis = cell digestion). There are any number of damaged cells in our bodies which sometimes manifest as cancer. When the body is deprived of external sources of glucose, it then seeks to repurpose damaged cells into energy. This means that our bodies are capable of remarkable self-healing more-so than previously believed. Studies have shown fasting has led to a remarkable improvement in many autoimmune disorders.
Eating food places a lot of strain on our digestive system which causes bloating and inflammation. By taking time off from eating food, we give our bodies ample time to recover in between meals which allows us to properly recover. Since most of us live in an abundance of food, we never really take time to recover between meals which leads to a bio feed back loop of telling our bodies to store more energy for later, aka becoming fatter.
Our ancestors for the majority of human existence were nomadic and didn't always have three square meals a day as we have become accustomed to now. Our bodies are governed by hormones such as 'ghrelin' also known as the 'hunger-hormone'. This causes us to feel hunger pangs despite having plenty in storage. Insulin, another hormone, helps to regulate glucose (basic form of energy) in our blood which is why some of us become tired after eating too much. Leptin, another hormone, causes us to feel full and therefore regulates the amount of food that we consume.
Our brains act as the puppet master of all these hormones which can help us to take control of our bodies and in turn steer us to better health. Most of us are slaves to our bodies that crave certain foods which often leave us in poorer health. The mind must decide and control the health of the body, not the other way around.
Diets that promote ketone bodies (aka the Ketogenic diet) seek to use fat sources for energy rather than glucose from carbohydrates and sugars from food. The fastest way to enter ketosis is through "fasting"! Since many people are not able to forgo eating for long periods of time, they can alternatively eat foods that are low in carbohydrates with little to no sugars which will allow their bodies to produce these fat burning 'ketones'. Moreover, different fasting schedules such as OMAD (One Meal A Day aka the warrior diet), or the 16/8 diet (eating all daily meals within an 8hr window) are acceptable forms of intermittent fasting. Results may be a little slower, but will happen nonetheless.
One of the most fascinating discoveries from my water fasting has been learning that over the years our bodies become host to a 'universe' of microorganisms (microbiota) that live in our digestive system. In actuality these microorganisms can live everywhere in our bodies (even on our skin). Food from our mothers while nursing as infants help to populate our microbiome with healthy gut bacteria which helps the developing child cultivate an immune system. Harmful microorganisms such as deleterious bacteria (even viruses) seek to infest healthy cells and corrupt living tissue. The safest way to fight against harmful microorganisms is to use healthy microorganisms small enough to combat these unwanted guests. Over the years a person can become infested with harmful microorganisms that commandeers the body like a parasite forcing the host to feed these unwanted guests (much like an addiction). Diabetics struggle with sugars, due to insulin resistance or not enough produced to help regulate blood sugar. Cancer growth is linked to sugar consumption as well.
These 'micro-parasites' have no concern for their host and often leave a wake of hurt and devastation. The good news is that once we make the link between our health and diet, we can begin to feed our healthy microbiome which serve more as symbiotic 'helper cells' than parasites. Fasting gives our bodies a break from the stress of digestion which reduces inflammation and depending upon the length can reduce the population of bad gut bacteria (after 7 days bad gut bacteria can be reduced by as much as three quarters of its previous population). Once the body has a chance to rest and regroup, the host can feed the healthy microorganisms food (probiotics, fiber, and fermented foods) that replenishes their population which keeps the bad microorganisms in check. Studies have shown that some people on the ketogenic diet have become well enough to effectively be cured of their diabetes. Many cancer survivors have learned to alter their diets and remain in remission. For those able to fast longer periods, many have claimed the benefits of anti-aging attributed to this practice. The connection between fasting, proper diet, and health is truly remarkable. One of the reasons I believe that fasting is not prescribed more is that there is no money to be made from it. Instead of being sold a magic cure, fasting simply requires one to stop eating. In fact in order to break any habit, good or bad, simply stop doing the thing that you wish to change about yourself. Simple.
Lastly, the connection between spirit and diet was not lost in my experience. During mass, the communion is called 'the Host'. God is referred to as the Lord of Hosts. The idea of communion is that we are humans stuck in a corrupt state (as we are subject to death and decay) seeking forgiveness and receiving that blessing and union with God through His Son in the Host (aka the bread of life). Bread is typically made with yeast (a living microorganism) which allows it to rise and gives bread its form. Wine is made through fermentation which converts simple sugars into the spirit known as alcohol. When we believe truly with our mind, body, and soul, the sacrament of communion serves as medicine to heal us from invisible parasites leading us to our downfall.
Everyone has different motivations for becoming healthy, but it starts with a desire to change. First the body begins to lose unhealthy weight, then the mind begins to wake up and realize that it is in control. And lastly, once the mind and body connection is made, the spirit can lead us to communion with The Creator which brings lasting health and well being making it difficult if not impossible for parasites to approach. The spirit of truth silently guides us in our journey making it clear which direction we ought to seek and which is the spirit of deception.