First let me say, I do not have much confidence in doctors in certain areas these days. Doctors typically prescribe drugs to treat symptoms. Many don't know much about nutrition and when they do give you nutritional advice, it is most often the lower calorie/low fat/higher carb/more exercise method. (My internist is all for my gluten free, plenty of fats diet, thankfully.) On a positive note, I am seeing more and more doctors coming out and saying that low fat is not the way to go. And I wholeheartedly agree. You know why? Because I tried the old way for many, many years and had either no results or temporary results. Most recently (about 7 years ago), I did the typical weight loss diet described above and I lost 63 pounds. I went to get my first physical after that weight loss and was anticipating better numbers all the way around. To my dismay, they were worse. And for the first time ever, I was basically diabetic (my blood sugar was 124). That after exercising faithfully at least five days a week and often 2-3 times a day for the better part of a year. I was in much better shape, but I was less healthy. Then I went through menopause and later had a hysterectomy and all hell broke loose. I immediately gained about 50 pounds. I could not stop eating (more about that later). When I finally started getting that together, I tried week after week the "old way" and could not lose a pound. I also tried Nutrisystem and didn't lose. One thing led to another and someone told me about Wheat Belly (because I was having debilitating chronic headaches). That was the beginning of the answer for me. And that is when I started taking a more holistic view of health and weight loss. The point is to get to the root of the problem. I believe many doctors do not want to give that advice because there is so much money to be made by pushing pharmaceuticals (or weight loss surgeries) at us. Meanwhile, we are getting more and more unhealthy and toxic.
Another book I read, Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It, said that obesity is a hormonal issue. If our hormones are messed up, our body demands more food and will keep telling us to store fat. My functional medicine doctor told me we hold onto weight as a protective measure. When my body feels safe enough to release its fat stores, it will. Did you ever want anyone to tell you that obesity is not your fault? Well, it is true to a great degree (unless you know the truth and don't act upon it). It is the fault of all the toxic and genetically modified foods we eat. And the high carb diet most Americans eat is a lot to blame. Food companies market foods as low-fat, making us think it is healthy, but they are loading it with sugar and other carbs, which makes our blood sugar go haywire and put out more and more insulin. Insulin tells your body to store fat.
I want to qualify that there are other ways I know medical doctors are needed. For instance, no matter how healthy I ate, I was never going to regrow the cartilage in my knee. Even my functional medicine doctor agreed that if I went through the nutritional changes and still had that much pain, a knee replacement was the way to go. And so I did and I think that was the right choice.
I used to kind of ridicule people (in my mind) who believed in all the holistic treatments. But after reading Wheat Belly (written by an M.D. cardiologist, by the way) and after following the diet for a while (and giving up wheat and grains), the headaches I had suffered from for 30 years were gone (unless there was some accidental exposure). That showed me I was on the right track and gave me hope that the rest of the healing the author said would happen would really happen. Admittedly, I have been a tough case. My body was really screwed up. But the fact that eating wheat again brought the headaches right back, and I realized eating grains and sugar made me ache all over, helped me keep going. It lost 40-50 pounds on just the Wheat Belly protocols (eating all the fat I wanted).
Dr. Davis, the author of Wheat Belly, encourages intermittent fasting. That is where the idea for doing this first started. I fasted 4-1/2 days last Labor Day weekend and 1-1/2 days earlier this year. (He recommends doing it more often that that.) I felt better, but it did not seem to be long enough to do the amount of work I needed it to do. I read a lot about water fasting. I went into this fast intending to fast for 10 days. During the process, I came across a couple of books, Fasting and Sunbathing (really) by Herbert M. Shelton, and Therapeutic Fasting by Arnold Devries. I haven't read the sunbathing part, but I studied the fasting part pretty thoroughly and read all of the shorter book by Devries. It countered all the arguments you typically hear against fasting in a way that made sense to me. And the further in this fast I get, the more they are being proven. That is when I realized that 10 days was not going to be long enough for the issues I was facing. Shelton is a big proponent of fasting until either your hunger returns or when you have had the healing results you need. When your hunger returns, it is time to eat because at that point you are entering starvation mode and that is not good.
That brings me to this. I made the mistake today of telling someone at work about my fast. Of course she jumped right in and started telling me how horrible it is for you. I stopped her and said I had done a lot of studying on it and encouraged her to check it out before she makes that judgment. After saying that, I decided to google (again) water fasting and see what comes up, looking for the negative side. And of course it is there. Here are some things the "experts" say and my comments about it.
1. Fasting is not a good way to lose weight.
Comment: I partially agree with this. If you go on a fast for the sole purpose of losing weight, it is not a great way to do it. Mainly because if you drop some weight and then go right back to eating what you did before, you will gain it all back. If you are not prepared to make lifestyle changes after the fast, you might as well not do it if losing weight is all you are looking to do.
2. When you fast, your body will feed on its own muscle tissue (or organs).
Comment: This is true in starvation, but not in fasting. As long as you have other stores for your body to feed on -- fat, diseased tissue, tumors, etc. -- your body will not use your muscle tissue as fuel. The human body is very discerning. It will protect the tissue that is needed to thrive and will use what it does not need for sustenance. You will not start using muscle tissue until you have used everything else your body does not need. The same goes for organs. Your body will not feed on heart tissue until there is nothing else for it to feed on.
3. Fasting slows your metabolic rate (it is implied permanently).
Comment: Although your metabolic rate slows down during the fast (your body is resting from the work of digestion and does not require as much energy), Devries says fasting actually permanently rejuvenates your metabolic rate. Shelton says something similar, but I could not find the passage at the time I am writing this post. This remains to be seen in me, but I do know I feel more energetic right now than I did when I was eating. But I do believe a lot of the impediments to weight loss are being healed as I fast. Hormones are being balanced, toxins that reside in your belly fat are being released as the fat is burned away, etc. This and the pain issues is a big reason I decided to do this. I was kind of stuck and I knew there were still hindrances to weight loss still present. My body will be "brand new" when I get done and can assimilate the food I eat much more expeditiously.
4. Fasting does not detox the body -- the body does that real well by itself.
Comment: I have no doubt that fasting detoxes the body, by my own experience. I went on a 30-day fast when I was in my 20's (it was more of a spiritual fast), drinking water the first 10 days and juice the last 20 days. That first 10 days was grueling as far as throwing off toxins. My tongue actually developed sores on it from the toxins being released, my joints hurt for a few days and then felt incredibly better. During this fast I have had different symptoms of detox. I again got some bumps in the back of my throat for a day or two, nasal discharge off and on, have the foul breath associated with fasting, coated tongue, etc. I think the detox was not as bad this time because I had already gone through a lot of detox when I changed what I ate, haven't eaten wheat or grains for over a year and had not had sugar for a couple of months before I started. I did have some caffeine withdrawal. A couple of days I had a medicinal taste in my mouth, which I think is detox from the pharmaceuticals I have taken over the last few years (although I am still taking one). There is no one in this world that can tell me that my body was keeping up with flushing out toxins. I think that is a large part of where the everyday, all-over pain came from -- a toxic body. I feel so much cleaner, more energetic, and except for isolated areas, freer from pain.
Even this article I was reading that talked about some of the "dangers" of fasting went on to talk about the benefits. Even to heal diseases such as cancer, digestive diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's Disease, etc. If I received an early diagnosis of cancer, the first thing I would do is start a fast.
Enough of the lesson; now back to how today is going. I feel pretty good today. I had to sleep in the recliner again last night because sciatic pain was shooting through my hip again. As a result, I have kind of a kink in my neck, but that was from sleeping "wrong." My upper back has twinged a little today, but is better. Lower back pain is there, but not bad. No real thoughts of food or anything today. I did dream about eating last night, lol. All in all, I feel good, I feel like I am moving forward and I feel clean, energetic and pretty good on the pain front. I'll take it.