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comment by mike
mike  ·  2046 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Short-term fasting may improve health

Here's my notes from last year b_b:

Thursday, July 10, 2014 Fasting Last month I decided to do a 3-day fast. But there has been one reason after another why I couldn't start fasting. Dinner with my boss. An important presentation that would fall on day 3 of fasting. Breakfast party at work. And on and on.

Now I've got a little vacation time, and of course vacation is for eating good food! And I've been eating lots of good food and maybe a little too much good food. So this morning I realized my schedule for the next few days is perfect for a 3-day fast. No big plans. I just wish I had decided yesterday that I would start fasting today, then I would have eaten a much healthier dinner. Instead I had very little dinner: corn chips and cheese dip and a couple of glasses of wine.

It's hard to find data on what is allowable to drink during this kind of fast. The goal is to kick the body into an immune system regeneration mode. This happens with 3 days of complete fasting, or 5 days of restricted calorie fasting (750/day). Some folks say coffee is ok, a little oil is good, boullion is ok, some folks say vegetable or berry juices are ok but not apple or orange, some folks say only water, some folks say only steam-distilled water (which they claim actually sucks out impurities from your system (cough-cough-bs).

There's a lot of folklore out there. The scientists who ran the studies on mice and humans show that a 3-day fast does indeed stimulate new stem-cell production and kills damage immune cells, results they ascertain through blood tests. So that's real. All the other stuff is mostly people talking. It's again the question of how much should you believe folk wisdom. There is truth in folk wisdom, but without science it's impossible to tell what is real, what ideas were formed through superstition (or correlation if you will), and what is wishful thinking.

And the problem is, the scientists aren't putting out claims about what you can and cannot eat to trigger the bodies starvation response that produces stem cells.

It seems to me that it is best to just drink water. No nutrition at all. However, if the response can be triggered after 5 days of restricted caloric intake, it seems to reason that a small amount of nutrients is allowable. Some plans allow coffee and encourage oil and say minerals are ok.

So I'm going to allow myself water, tea, coffee (which contains oil), and a cup of boullion a day (which contains salt and fat and 15 calories). I do like salt.

15 hours in and I'm not so hungry.

Friday, July 11, 2014 26 hours Today I rode a bike a couple of miles, played pickleball for a couple of hours, and ate nothing but a sprinkle of salt. Resolve was tested when on the way to the movies we stopped at a restaurant ... and the restaurant was a buffalo wings joint. My favorite. Onion rings. And deep fried pickles.

Still, it wasn't as bad as I thought. I've not been hungry today although a little tummy rumbling. So far, so good.

Friday, July 11, 2014 37 hours Slept great, woke with headache. Not hungry.

Saturday, July 12, 2014 46 hours So far today I've had 4 cups of coffee, a cup of green tea, many glasses of water, and few pinches of salt. The salt really makes my mouth happy.

I'm surprised at my good energy today. In the morning I did stretching and pushups and lots of writing with very good clarity. Then I played 2 games of pickle ball and went to the range to shoot clay pigeons. On the way back I began thinking of food. How delicious it tastes. And while I'm not physically hungry, mmmm food sure does taste delicious. Maybe this is hunger? I often don't feel hunger. Sometimes when I'm on my own I will forget to eat, and only realize that I need food because I get cold. So maybe it's no surprise that I have't been that hungry.

The family is cooking out right now and they've just finished preparing food. I'm going to excuse myself and not watch them eat dinner this time around.

Saturday, July 12, 2014 63 hours You have a lot of extra time when you're a nothingtarian like me. We spend a lot of each day in pursuit of eating. Yesterday as we drove past the Meijers at 3:00 I wondered if we needed to stop to get anything for dinner. My mind automatically ran down a sequence of events to follow - buying meat, coming home, summoning help, gathering utensils, setting up the kitchen and the grill, preparing vegetables, grilling and cooking and whatnot, dinner, cleanup, and then freetime. About 3 hours of food rituals.

But I would not be eating. What would I do with all this time? Dinner was already planned. The sausages on the grill smelled good. I enjoyed their smell and put a little salt on my tongue. They looked good. But they could wait. I excused myself from the meal last night and no one seemed to mind. I did miss the ritual and the company, though.

So much empty time without eating! If I were a supervillian, I would not eat. I would use all the extra time planning how to take over the world.

Going to sleep last night felt awesome, like I could skip ahead 8 or 9 hours in the program. But I felt different when I woke up this morning. A little dizzy, a little buzzing in my bones.

My stomach hurt for a few minutes at one point, but I still wasn't hungry. To test myself, I cooked up bacon and pancakes for the kids. Oh, that bacon looked and smelled so good. And those pancakes fluffed up. And the kids were scarfing them down with butter and maple syrup and orange juice. But it was okay. I cleaned up while they ate. You have a lot of extra time when you're a nothingtarian, didn't you know?

I can continue to feel a strangeness, and I know that something is happening inside of me. My body is shifting into a mode where my immune system kills off any weak cells, including those damaged from chemo. At the same time, new stem cells are growing which will build a new immune system in its place.


Saturday, July 12, 2014 69 hours Went to the movies. The kids had popcorn. With extra butter.

I'm getting hungry now, I wonder if it's because I know I will eat in a couple of hours. I wonder if I knew I wouldn't be eating until tomorrow if I would feel hungry. I don't think I would.

I'm feeling good. I haven't pushed myself physically today, but I have plenty of energy. Think I'll go do some pushups.

Sunday, July 13, 2014 72 hours Dinner tonight was tasty. I have read folks recommending things like start eating slowly after fasting – just a small amount of yogurt to get your stomach used to food again! I didn't really believe that, I ate like normal, ate a little more than usual in fact, two helpings of chicken and mashed potatoes, coleslaw, broccoli, fruit, milk and a pile of honey-roasted peanuts.

The fast is over, and it was easy.

Sunday, July 13, 2014 3-day fast, the morning after

Immune system reboot is underway!

Wasn't sure what to expect this morning. My intestines would be filling up with food during the night... would it be strange? It wasn't. I feel great this morning, not hungry but a little bit sore from all the physical activity I've had the past few days.

It's nice to know that if I ever need to go without food for, say, a week, that I can do it with little difficulty and still have energy (to gather and hunt for example). Certainly my stone-age ancestors went for long periods without food.

Sunday, July 13, 2014 The next afternoon I ate a full breakfast. Could have kept on eating and eating, but I stopped when I was full. I had little rumbling in my belly around lunch time -- my body wants food now! For lunch I ate nuts and milk and yogurt and coffee, and all is right in the world.


I thought maybe I had posted this to hubski last year but I couldn't find it. There's a bit more in one of my blogs here if you want more about the aftermath. I think it did my a lot of good and I'm eager to do it again. I had planned to do it every six months, but I'm closing in on the 1-year mark and out of excuses!

b_b  ·  2046 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thanks; very illuminating. I was planning to drink salt water with a similar salt content to normal saline (0.9%, which is roughly 1.5 tablespoons per liter). It's not actually that unpalatable, but perhaps just eating pinches of salt is better.

Monday, then. It's a plan.