Just Don't, sing the ageless worms
July 19, 2004 10:50 AM   Subscribe

Fountains of Youth and Health : periodic, therapeutic fasting and caloric restriction. Ben Franklin wrote of this, and most religions advocate periodic fasting. In the "Fasting Worm Study", earthworms became nearly immortal. Recent research underscores the health benefits, which do not require overall caloric restriction (a "fast and gorge" cycle works too) for humans. Fasting shows promise for the treatment of most addictions, Cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's, Gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, Uterine fibroid tumors, Back and neck problems, high blood pressure, arthritis and joint pain, depression, perhaps Huntington's Disease... Here's a clinic which specializes in medically supervised water only fasts and offers recent studies and writings on the subject (PDF, .doc, and .htm format). Fasting seems to be very good for your brain overall. Meanwhile, inside : the benefits of caloric restriction, which seems to dramatically slow many age-related diseases.
posted by troutfishing (57 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Warning ! -"When properly applied and conducted, therapeutic fasting is one of the most potent tools available for assisting the body in healing itself....[but] If you are going to undertake a fast, do it right or don’t do it."

And then, there's simple caloric restriction : Calorie Restriction Drastically Reduces Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke and Diabetes (study summary) ”calorie restriction has a powerful, protective effect against diseases associated with aging,” said Dr. John Holloszy, a professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, and author of the study. Meanwhile, on the other side of the equation - a recent study done by doctors from Harvard , and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition....found a Type 2 diabetes/sugar link : that the increased consumption of refined carbohydrates (i.e., corn
syrup) in the American diet, combined with decreased consumption of fiber, parallels the increase in Type II diabetes." and further : "High Blood Sugar Links to Lost Memory - According to a 30 non-diabetic middle-aged and elderly people study, high blood sugar was found to contribute to a smaller hippocampus, which is directly related to memory function. People's memory may be harmed before they develop diabetes. High blood sugar harms blood vessels that supply the brain, heart and other organs." ( Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2/3/2003 )
posted by troutfishing at 10:54 AM on July 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

Good news: ten years extended life. Bad news: you spend it fucking starving.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:00 AM on July 19, 2004

awesome post, tf. Remember this guy?
posted by shoepal at 11:04 AM on July 19, 2004

Trout, you and I probably don't agree on much. But you are right on the money on this one. Note to all: The hunger part goes away after about a day and a half, to be replaced by a kind of groovin', heightened interest in life. Colors seem to be a little bit brighter, music sounds better, and your head seems a little bit clearer. You start to think: I could do this forever. And maybe you could! The downside (and this gets to be a bigger downside the longer and more times you do this) is that you have to drink lots and lots of water, and you find yourself spending lots of time in stinking public toilets, or anywhere, just peeing, and peeing, and peeing, and sometimes I think I will go mad. But outside of that, fasting and low-caloric eating in general is good fun.
posted by Faze at 11:10 AM on July 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

Roy Walford, R.I.P.
posted by homunculus at 11:14 AM on July 19, 2004

posted by quonsar at 11:14 AM on July 19, 2004

Great post, trout.
posted by homunculus at 11:15 AM on July 19, 2004

Wow. Thanks much for these great links, troutfishing. I was going to respond to you after reading your comment about fasting in the other thread from today. I do it (water fasting) every other month for two or three days - it's very much a part of my life now. My longest was 15 days and I loved every minute of it. If you ever need a fasting buddy, please email me. What are you doing during your fast? Besides fasting, that is...

upon preview: oh yes, there is much peeing to be done.
posted by iconomy at 11:16 AM on July 19, 2004

I have no argument in what is being said here but do note that high blood pressure when it appears usually
gets a doctor to suggest not just careful dieting, change in habits, but also exercise. Nowhere in this list of goodies does exercise appear. I know that in my case, when pressure was high, exercise and change of eating habits brought pressure down in short order. And I know that those folks who are fairly athletic seem not to have elevated pressure. This is not to discount what is here posted but simply to note what might also be helpful.
posted by Postroad at 11:16 AM on July 19, 2004

Faze, I don't think your supposed to be out and about while fasting it negates the benefits and puts a lot of stress on your system pulling out nutrient reserves that take years to build up, unless your just looking for a high.
posted by stbalbach at 11:27 AM on July 19, 2004

If it is not healthier to attempt to sate our hunger as much as we like, why do we assume it's healthier to attempt to sate our unhappiness as much as we like?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:35 AM on July 19, 2004

We don't. I don't anyway, or I'd be on heroin.

Is there any fast that's compatible with beer?
posted by scarabic at 11:37 AM on July 19, 2004

On a typical day, he had a low-fat milkshake, a banana, some yeast and some berries for breakfast; a large salad for lunch; and fish, a baked sweet potato and some vegetables for dinner.

Is that "restricted intake?" Sounds pretty damn doable to me.

(oh, plus beer though)
posted by scarabic at 11:47 AM on July 19, 2004

EB, I gotta say, that's one of the dumber comments I've seen in a while.

Is there any fast that's compatible with beer?

sure there is: Oktoberfast! oh, wait a second...
posted by soyjoy at 11:48 AM on July 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

iconomy - well, for one, I'm posting on Metafilter, on fasting. I should get up off my bony ass soon, and walk the dog for a few hours. My wife is doing the fast too. I don't have much body fat, so I get pretty weak on the 3rd day usually.

Did you see that "Peace walk fasting" link I posted ? I love the idea of a walking fast - even a slow one.

I'd actually love a periodic reminder - I'd be willing to join you in fasting, if from afar. I forget how powerful a tool it is, for health. It's so easy to become stupefied through being too well fed.

[ I'm starting a three day fast today, BTW. I'll do a lot of walking, clean, maybe some work on a local organic CSA farm ]

faze - I'm glad we agree on this one! "The hunger part goes away after about a day and a half, to be replaced by a kind of grooving', heightened interest in life. Colors seem to be a little bit brighter, music sounds better, and your head seems a little bit clearer. You start to think: I could do this forever." - yup. All the senses become heightened.

When my wife and I were living upstairs from my parents, in a tiny apartment (a few years before we bought a house) we were doing a "four day" fast. Now, I don't believe my mother knew, consciously, that my wife and were fasting but on the 3rd day, towards the evening, my wife and I went out to walk the dog - very slowly - and when we returned my mother had baked whole-wheat blueberry muffins and put a plate of them in the hallway going up to our little flat.

And, that was the end of that. Although - I sure felt healthy after even a 3-day fast - reborn, almost.

homunculus - thanks. I was sad to see that Roy Walford had died. He so much wanted to live - it was that damn Biosphere project fallout that got him in the end. I thought well of him. But - human nature being what it is - when I saw your link, I just burst out laughing uncontrollably.

Humor is a sick thing, at times.

Speaking of which - I don't have a friggin' clue as to whether this is real or not. Provisionally, at least, I try to entertain any and all possibilities. But these folks seem a bit much :


But, who knows ?

scarabic - well, I could be mis-recalling this one, but I'd swear I've run across some research tidbit suggesting that alcoholic beverages don't actually count in terms of the caloric restriction diet (even though moderate to heavy drinking is otherwise bad for your health) so that you could get some of those benefits on a beer diet, yes. But, this could simply be wishful remembrance and this could be the early signs of what happened to Ronald Reagan, in the early stages of Alzheimer's - he just invented huge chunks of remembered past. pretty soon, maybe, I'll recall fighting in the first Gulf War or something. I'd better fast a lot to keep my brain tuned up, just in case.
posted by troutfishing at 11:48 AM on July 19, 2004

Why does everyone has to be so fucked up about food exactly? And why do so many people equate it instantly with control of much greater things? Is it just the increased availability?

And what about the idea that we can prolong our lives by increments just doing this, just doing that? How worthwhile is that life when you spend so much time worrying about it being absolutely as long as possible? Do you think obsessing in this way will make you happier than just eating good things in moderation, enjoting them, and spending your effort on something a bit more interesting? After all, you're still going to die.

Finally, this is not an eating disorder because?

On preview: Too well fed? Oh the agonies of civilization.
posted by dame at 11:55 AM on July 19, 2004

Also - I'm not convinced that Roy Walford's diet was all that healthy. Not bad, yes, but not what I'd call - these days, anyway - optimal. I've started eating what many would call funky shit for breakfast and lunch like : brown rice and black beans, raw garlic, seaweed and fresh vegetables, with a little soy sauce and a ton of olive oil dumped on top and a garnish of walnuts - all organic. [ not to mention the supplements - gingko, vitamins B,C, and E, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, DHEA....green "superfood" powder from Trader Joe's... ]

Uh oh. I'm getting hungry.
posted by troutfishing at 11:56 AM on July 19, 2004

dame - actually, it's a quality of life issue for me, and it seems quite the opposite of obsessive. In fact, I have some distinct OCD tendencies, but those decline as my diet improves.

When I eat optimally (by my lights) I feel quite the opposite of obsessed - very relaxed in fact. I could die at any minute, but I find life to be - hour by hour - far more enjoyable when I eat well. I'm happier and more energetic, and my senses seem more intense. Life is simply better. Eating well makes - for me at least - a big difference. As does the discipline of not-eating ( fasting ).

However, I'll eat almost anything anyone serves me, out of respect for the hopitality.

I agree that one can obsess on food, but I think of it more as paying attention. We are, after all, physical creatures (at least).
posted by troutfishing at 12:06 PM on July 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

"out of respect for the hospitality. " - Awk! The hunger, the hunger, I fel faint. No energy for spell chk....
posted by troutfishing at 12:22 PM on July 19, 2004

This is not nearly as good as that post about the colonic resort in Thailand.

Wheat grass juice enemas!!!!
posted by bukvich at 12:26 PM on July 19, 2004

Finally, this is not an eating disorder because?
Because it potentially improves a person's health, rather than hurting it.
posted by 4easypayments at 12:28 PM on July 19, 2004

Someone who lives near trout better go over and check on him. :-)
posted by nofundy at 12:50 PM on July 19, 2004

Physical health isn't the only kind, and being so concerned about your food intake that you don't eat until you get weak and/or hallucinate seems to indicate some mental issues. Control issues.

(And no this doesn't mean I think that I don't have issues. I do. Lots. I just don't go around claiming that they are good.)
posted by dame at 2:04 PM on July 19, 2004

I agree it has everything to do with control. For example eight years ago I decided I needed to take control of myself after watching my mother die at age 54 due to liver malfunction associated with obesity. Long story short a lot of research about the liver led me to fasting, detoxification, whatever you wish to call it...which led me to calorie restriction, organic living, and all that involves. I lost over 100 pounds and changed my life forever. Life is so much more fun for me now. And I credit the fasting because that is what worked for me. When I was fat I could come up every justification to make myself feel better about it, but now that I'm not I see no justification for being fat at all.
posted by oh posey at 2:25 PM on July 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

dame - you're so serious! I was joking - I feel fine, just hungry.

Of course there's more to life than the physical. But many of the saints and sadhus have said that the physical and spiritual are intertwined. Shamans, too, go through a purification process. There can be different motivations (or I perceive different ones from my limited vantage point) going on there - "killing the body a little" vs. mere purification. But both approaches involve, at the core, a sort of death to the lure of the senses - a sort of dying to the physical world.

But, as my sometime Metafilter foe Faze remarked, fasting - of the sort I'm doing at the moment - isn't about killing the body at all but about increasing it's state of health - it tends to make one feel much more alive. Truly.

(Faze) " Note to all: The hunger part goes away after about a day and a half, to be replaced by a kind of groovin', heightened interest in life. Colors seem to be a little bit brighter, music sounds better, and your head seems a little bit clearer. You start to think: I could do this forever. And maybe you could!" - Also, I have a sister who became seriously anorexic. Down to a near-Auschwitz level of emaciation. You can continue that fasting-euphoria (and the associated sense of control that the will-power to control one's food intake confers) for a very long time - in fact, until you keel over dead !

But three days doesn't do that.

I do so look forward to eating Wednesday night, but I'm enjoying the trip there too.

oh posey - my journey wasn't nearly so dramatic but I have noticed that a number of symptoms and conditions which I once has have cleared up as my diet has gradually improved. Memory, sex drive, overall energy levels - all these seem to be much better than at half my current age. but, then, I'm pretty sure I had at least a moderately severe case of Lead poisoning then.....I've detoxified a lot since then.

Good for you ! Life - as a physically embodied being - should be enjoyed. It's enjoyable.
posted by troutfishing at 2:47 PM on July 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

> most religions advocate periodic fasting.

Don't mention that, most mefites will feel obliged to call it ignorant self-delusion.
posted by jfuller at 2:48 PM on July 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

But maybe you just "feel alive" because your body is on the lookout for any source of food. Seeing as humans like to eat and all.

I guess I just find willfully depriving oneself of something essential but now super-bountiful seems an odd, kinda-tweaky reaction to our fairly unprecedented access to food. And a method of (over)control. The difference between starving for three days and starving till you're dead appears to me to be only a difference of degree.

But thanks for at least addressing the fact that I think you're nuts pleasantly. Really.
posted by dame at 3:47 PM on July 19, 2004

You probably feel better because you're FREAKING STARVING.

Starvation's one of the more pleasant deaths a person can have - as has been previously noted in this very thread, the longer you go without food, the less you feel like you need it. Your body puts out all kinds of fun hormones that tell you life is good, right up until you start harvesting your internal organs for energy.

You feel "more alive" because your body has been put into a state where it believes starvation is inevitable and is basically releasing tons of nice hormones so you don't realize that you're consuming your own vital tissues in order to keep your body from shutting down. Just because something makes you feel "more alive" does NOT make it good for you.

Single studies prove very little - particularly when more than half the links you've provided are to biased sources. Doing the same thing, I could "prove" that colloidal silver will make you feel wonderful and cure all diseases, and would never, ever make you turn grey. Welcome to the internet, where starving and poison are chic.

Letting your body feast on itself may feel good. That's part of the reason anorexia nervosa is so prevalent - the high of not eating, of drinking lots of water but letting your body consume itself - but it certainly isn't good for you. The fact that you're doing it for some perceived health benefit doesn't make it any better.
posted by u.n. owen at 4:20 PM on July 19, 2004

(And no this doesn't mean I think that I don't have issues. I do. Lots. I just don't go around claiming that they are good.)

Maybe you should. They arent going anywhere.
posted by Satapher at 4:39 PM on July 19, 2004

Half the links? I didn't see a single link that I would count as reliable evidence of benefits of fasting in humans. Even the first link is clearly someone's term paper, and its references look seriously dodgy.

People who are predisposed to believe that fasting must be good will feel mightily reinforced, but I hurl this from me with a might "feh!"
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:51 PM on July 19, 2004

Hey, trout's talking about a three-day vacation from food here. Not death by starvation. Another thing no one's mentioned is that when you go back to eating, food tastes better. In fact, the less you eat, the more whatever you eat tastes great. It never hurts to get a new grip on something you take for granted your whole life.
posted by Faze at 4:59 PM on July 19, 2004

Yes, and if you are diabetic and stop using insulin for three days, you feel so much better when you go back on - you appreciate it more. It's fine to induce a temporarily completely unhealthy state, because it makes you appreciate your health more when you have it back.

Wow. I am beginning to see the light. Suffering and privation is good as long as it doesn't quite kill you. I see. It's either Buddhist or Nietzschean, but I can't figure out which.
posted by u.n. owen at 5:11 PM on July 19, 2004

And speaking of Fountains of Youth, what about Fountains of Wayne? How come they are so lousy, when their main songwriter was the same man responsible for the fabulous original songs in "That Thing You Do?" It makes no sense.
posted by Faze at 6:24 PM on July 19, 2004

seaweed and fresh vegetables, with a little soy sauce and a ton of olive oil dumped on top and a garnish of walnuts

Garnish with wasabi or bitter melon and that's some good eatin'.
"In 1990, a research team led by Sylvia Lee-Huang of New York University School of Medicine, Hao-Chia Chen at the National Institutes of Health, and Hsiang-fu Kung at the National Cancer Institute isolated a protein, MAP 30, from bitter melon, which has been used in China to treat infections, tumors, and immune disorders, and found it has multiple functions that are responsible for anti-HIV activity."
posted by octobersurprise at 6:49 PM on July 19, 2004

(And no this doesn't mean I think that I don't have issues. I do. Lots. I just don't go around claiming that they are good.)

Maybe you should. They arent going anywhere.

Nah, that'd be dishonest. I'd rather treasure them as part of my humanity while admitting that they are flaws.
posted by dame at 6:51 PM on July 19, 2004

"I didn't see a single link that I would count as reliable evidence of benefits of fasting in humans." (i_am_joes_spleen) - joes spleen, how are your eyes ? Silly question. You don't have eyes. You're a spleen and spleens don't read. Otherwise you might have noticed this -

On humans :

"St. Louis, April 19, 2004 — People who severely restrict their caloric intake drastically reduce their risk of developing diabetes or clogged arteries, the precursor to a heart attack or stroke. In fact, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, some risk factors were so low they were comparable to those of people decades younger.

The study, led by John O. Holloszy, M.D., professor of medicine, will appear in the April 27 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It will appear in the online edition of the journal the week of April 19. The first author is Luigi Fontana, M.D., Ph.D., research instructor in medicine at the School of Medicine and an investigator at the Istituto Superiore di Sanita, Rome.

“It’s very clear from these findings that calorie restriction has a powerful, protective effect against diseases associated with aging,” Holloszy says.

On Mice :

"Fasting every other day may help protect against neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease as well as diabetes, according to a study reported in the April 28 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

National Institute on Aging (NIA) researchers compared mice that they deprived of food every other day to mice that daily consumed either a calorie-restricted or non-restricted diet.

Mark Mattson, Ph.D., chief of the NIA's Laboratory of Neurosciences, and his colleagues found that nerve cells of the fasting mice were more resistant to neurotoxin injury or death than nerve cells of the mice on either of the other diets."

"The team from the National Institute on Aging genetically created Huntington's symptoms in mice.......those mice which were starved on some days and given low-calorie diets the rest of the time developed signs of the disease around 12 days later than those allowed to eat as much as they wanted....They also lived 10%-15% longer, were better able to regulate their glucose levels and did not lose body weight as quickly as the other mice....Their brains had fewer affected nerve cells, and higher levels of a growth factor for nerve cells called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor)."

[ *W. Duan, Z. Guo, H. Jaing, M. Ware, X-J. Li, and M. P. Mattson, "Dietary Restriction Normalizes Glucose Metabolism and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Levels, Slows Disease Progression and Increases Survival in Huntington Mutant Mice" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online Early Edition the week of February 10 2003]


On Humans :

R. Michael Anson *, Zhihong Guo *, Rafael de Cabo, Titilola Iyun, Michelle Rios, Adrienne Hagepanos, Donald K. Ingram, Mark A. Lane , and Mark P. Mattson, "Intermittent fasting dissociates beneficial effects of dietary restriction on glucose metabolism and neuronal resistance to injury from calorie intake", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online Early Edition the week of April 30, 2003

The incidence of type 2 diabetes in the U.S. has increased about 30 times during the past 40 years, concurrent with a 3-fold increase in the rates of obesity. More than 16 million Americans are now afflicted with this costly disease. Publishing in this month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dr. Gross and colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health examined the relationship of the consumption of refined sugars in the U.S. diet to the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, using U.S. Department of Agriculture and Center for Disease Control statistics since the year 1909
posted by troutfishing at 7:36 PM on July 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

Wow, it's amazing how threatened a lot of people seem about therapeutic fasting. Er, sorry, not threatened, um... "skeptical."
posted by soyjoy at 8:05 PM on July 19, 2004

dame - I was involved once with a woman who was too skinny (not even anorexic. healthy, but thin). It was a turn off, I found. But, the research into the health benefits of fasting seems solid to me. BTW, I love to cook and eat. I've been doing it for a long time, and food is one of my greatest pleasures.

octobersurprise - Bitter melon, eh?

"You feel "more alive" because your body has been put into a state where it believes starvation is inevitable and is basically releasing tons of nice hormones so you don't realize that you're consuming your own vital tissues in order to keep your body from shutting down." (u.n. owen) - This doesn't tend to happen until your body consumes most of it's fat. How many people do you know who have 1 or 2 percent body fat, say ? Very few, I'd guess.

I agree with you on this - one's feelings during fasting are at least partly due to the body's release of various hormones and substances evolved to facilitate tropism towards food.

A family member of mine was once severely anorexic, and I'm somewhat familiar with the physiology and psychology of that state. But therapeutic fasting is - by definition - not starvation.

The likelihood is that humans bodies evolved in acclimation to periodic fasting and gorging, and so the vehement reaction here to the very idea of fasting seems weird to me. Humans evolved as animals adjusted to an intermittent food supply. There were no supermarkets, 7-11's and refrigerators handy.

Indeed, the European explorers, upon encountering native, hunting and gathering peoples virtually anywhere around the Globe remarked on their dismay at the habits of these peoples - whose willingness to gorge and then go for days without food shocked the Europeans who were used to daily, punctual feedings.

"Nothing changes your attitude toward food more than the lack of it. So the standout meal of my life happened to have been shared with my two other "crew" members on a mishap-ridden, nearly ill-fated, frightening and totally wonderful adventure sailing to Lighthouse Caye 60 miles off the shores of Belize, on the Caribbean coast of Central American.....It's as though after many days battling storms and doldrums and midnight groundings in uncharted waters and failed rigging, essentially hunting and gathering for the mainstay of our food all that time, that our bodies had moved into hunter-gather mode, the rhythm of the uncertain feast. This is suggested by a certain other story told to me by a South African friend, who related how the Bushmen of the Kalihari, after stalking a giraffe for days without eating would then gorge on the kill, to the extent that to sleep, they'd have to dig holes in the ground into which they'd flop their ballooned stomachs in order lie down. We were sort of like that."
posted by troutfishing at 8:17 PM on July 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

Also, here's another compelling reason for periodic reduction in stored body fat :

"In addition to pesticides, most tests of animals also found traces of industrial oil made of chemicals known as PCBs. By 1980, there was evidence that these chemicals had reached the Arctic via long-range transport. In the late 1980s, there was evidence that human mother's milk at a location in the Northwest Territories of Canada contained enough PCBs to cause concern about effects on human health. The most likely source was the food the woman had eaten.

POPs are stored in fat and are persistent

A common characteristic of most synthetic chemicals found in Arctic animals is that they break down very slowly. This persistence in the environment allows them to accumulate in animals, and to pass up the food web. Most of the organic pollutants are fat-soluble and accumulate in the fatty tissues of animals. Arctic animals store energy as fat for survival in the cold, and therefore fat is an important part of the diet for both animals and people. Along with the fat in their diet, animals and people take in the organic contaminants. As predators take on the energy (fat) from their prey, the contaminants too work their way up the food chain (from fish, to seals, to polar bears, to people), often becoming more concentrated in the top predators (bears, people).

A broad attack on reproduction

Most of the visible effects of POPs on animals are related to the ability to conceive and raise young.....One of the underlying causes of failure to reproduce is that some of the chemicals interfere with sex hormones. Such hormone disrupters can mimic or block hormones because they are similar enough in structure to fit into the body's biochemical receptors.....Sex hormones are important to the normal sexual development of young animals. In polluted temperate environments, high levels of hormone disrupters have been connected to malformations in the reproductive organs, change of sex in some species, and abnormal mating behavior.

The immune system is very sensitive

One of the most sensitive targets for organic contaminants may be the immune system, the body's primary defense against disease. The thymus, which normally produces antibodies to fight infectious agents, can waste away and cease to function. There are signs that animals with a high load of organic contaminants are more susceptible to infections. POPs also limit cell-mediated immunity, the branch of the immune system that fights cancer cells and parasites...." [ NOAA, on the effects on POP's on Arctic wildlife. POP's are known to effect humans in a similar fashion. ]
posted by troutfishing at 8:23 PM on July 19, 2004

I'm hungry, and I don't care!

[ It's not too hard. Try it, you'll see. unless you're diabetic, you won't likely die and will probably benefit. ]

Ha ha. I'll eat on Wednesday, and it'll be great.

Maybe I'll have some delicious POP laden, fatty duck meat, in a wild rice bed, with basil, a dash of toasted sesame oil, garlic, a little cilantro maybe, fresh snap peas, carrots jullienne, fresh black pepper.... maybe some thai garlic hot sauce too, to spice it up. Maybe hold on the sesame oil though. I'll think about that.

Actually, I don't generally eat ducks. It sounds good at the moment though.

posted by troutfishing at 8:56 PM on July 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

I've started eating what many would call funky shit for breakfast and lunch like : brown rice and black beans, raw garlic, seaweed and fresh vegetables, with a little soy sauce

Sounds like a typical brekkie here in Korea. These folks ain't skinny for nothin'.

Is there any fast that's compatible with beer?

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:24 AM on July 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

Suffering and privation is good as long as it doesn't quite kill you.

Yes, it most assuredly can be. Builds character and all that. As long as you have the option to stop it at will, which, sadly, most of us never do.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:44 AM on July 20, 2004

wow, its great that you can do this at all.

I get awful when I don't eat regularly. Either I get stomach/intestinal cramps (the kind where I can't stand up straight) or, like the last time I didn't eat much for a couple of days and then I missed a meal, I got all nauseous and felt like complete crap.

Maybe I'm not drinking enough water or something (although I do try). But I'm always eating (trying to eat smaller meals) to avoid this kind of punishment.
posted by evening at 5:31 AM on July 20, 2004

Since we're all so concerned about "regular" eating, what exactly is that now, anyway? I know there's the traditional three square meals a day, but that never seems to work out so well for me. I've also read that about five small meals a day spread out fairly evenly is best. I also know people who tend to eat throughout the day by snacking on fruit who are at a healthy weight.

Some of the reactions against fasting seem sort of knee-jerk because I'm not so convinced that everyone necessarily needs to eat as often as they do, or possibly not even every day.
posted by mikeh at 6:55 AM on July 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

stavros - well, would you say the average South Korean who eats that way is healthy ? Healthier than the average American ? It makes me feel good, I know that.

evening - are you sure you don't have some sort of associated medical condition that's causes those problems ?

Parasites ? Systemic Candida Albicans overgrowth ? Pre-Diabetes ? That doesn't sound good to me.

I'm into the Ketosis stage now - the hunger is going away and I'm starting to feel good, and energetic. It took a day and a half. The next day and a half will be pretty easy.

Then, I'll eat a big meal and feel really happy and full.

mikeh - the most recent research suggests that skipping meals here and there and "mini" one day fasts are really good for your health too.
posted by troutfishing at 8:14 AM on July 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

thanks for helping my hypochondria :)
posted by evening at 8:32 AM on July 20, 2004

evening - you're welcome. Maybe you should fast then ?

But seriously - If you're on a health plan, why not discuss your symptoms with a doctor ? There are some good basics that would be good to cover - such as blood sugar levels.
posted by troutfishing at 10:27 AM on July 20, 2004

I've never deliberately fasted when feeling healthy, but I do find it interesting that if I'm ill in any way, eating is about the last thing I want to do. In fact, if I'm willing to put up with the caffeine-withdrawal headache, I don't even particularly want coffee if I'm sick. Or juice. Or anything caloric, really. It doesn't matter if my sense of taste/smell is involved in the illness or not. All I want if I'm not well is ice water if I'm feverish; hot water with lemon, or green tea, if I've got chills. Occasionally I get a craving for something carbonated; diet soda or bottled water suffices for this.

I have to tell you, when I started ignoring the advice that you had to "keep your strength up" by eating when sick, my recovery rate doubled. It was amazing. I didn't feel too good, and for the first day and a half I couldn't think very well, but I got better way faster than I ever used to. I have no idea why--I know that when I had cats, they never ate when they were sick, but I'm not sure if the mechanism which produces anorexia in cats is the same one that produces it in me. (By which I mean, of course, "anorexia" in the sense of "no appetite," not the eating disorder. If you had one look at me it would be obvious that when I want to eat, I eat.)

I've spent up to a week in a fasting or semi-fasting state. (Semi-fasting meaning that when this situation goes on beyond about 2 1/2 days, I will crave a protein meal in the evening. I used to bake a very small piece of fish, but these days I just have about 40g whey protein in a shake and that seems to do fine.) Of course, all I do during this is read in bed, drink fluids, get on the computer, drink more fluids, pee a lot, watch DVDs, drink yet more fluids and maybe a protein shake. If I feel especially daring I'll take my book out in the back yard and get some air. I don't have the physical energy to do anything else--as much from low blood sugar as from the illness. But damn, fasting/semi-fasting does get me better quickly.

I can't comment on the heightened feeling of aliveness, because my only fast experiences have been while I was sick. But I do notice that after a couple of days the brain fog does lift somewhat. I attribute that to the onset of ketosis (a phenomenon I am familiar with, having been on a ketogenic fat loss diet for over a year in an attempt to drop one weight class in powerlifting while retaining muscle).
posted by Tholian at 1:35 PM on July 20, 2004

Tholian - the fast I'm doing is really not very different. It's a little like your "sick fasts" - except that I don't feel sick, just hungry.

It's probably a little less miserable, and - in the end, after my first meal t break the fast and the nex day - I feel far better than normal. But, your sick fasts probably give you a lot of the same health benefits.

It's interesting to hear a parallel perspective. I actually found - in poking around for material for this post - something by a bodybuilder who advocated regular fasting for rejuvenation and to cleanse the body of toxins.

Of course - bodybuilders are far more comfortable with experimenting on their bodies, and far, far more nutritionally literate than average.
posted by troutfishing at 4:14 PM on July 20, 2004

I should have mentioned that when the illness finally begins to go away, I am suddenly and completely ravenous. That's how I know I've turned the corner. Interestingly (to me at least), I get desperate for protein, fat, and salt. Tuna salad with an obnoxious amount of mayonnaise looks nice; I'm indifferent to pasta; and anything sweet positively turns me off.

I've learned this over the years, and I make sure to have plenty of easily-microwaveable sources of protein/fat/salt available for when I start to get better.
posted by Tholian at 6:14 PM on July 20, 2004

Tholian - That sounds very normal to me! Watch out for canned tuna, BTW - It's been found to have dangerous levels of Mercury. Salmon supposedly (according to a recent chart I saw which I wouldn't completely trust, but anyway....) tends to have only a fraction the Mercury levels of Tuna (especially canned tuna).

My biggest local city has a seafood restaurant with a mean smoked seafood sampler. I may go for that, the steamed mussels (with butter and lemon, and white wine sauce) and some good ale.

I actually have been amazingly energetic today. I think I'm over the major hunger-hump, and I feel extremely lucid. I went to walk the dog tonight, and I was nearly power walking - at a high clip, that is - without even trying.

My body wants tropism towards food.

It'll get that tomorrow

But for now - normally, I'm fairly cranky and moody. But I have none of that now, and feel exceptionally good and also very goal - oriented. I imagine food is supposed to be my goal. Beyond that, though, my skin has taken on a different tone : I was a little pasty before this fast. That's all gone. My complexion looks dramatically healthier, and I look at least several years younger (I'd guess). Also, I've long had circulation issues (cold hands and feet) which I attributed to Raynaud's Syndrome, and also frostbite (on my hands) but those symptoms have, for the moment, vanished.

Fasting is good. Eating will be very good too.
posted by troutfishing at 7:46 PM on July 20, 2004 [1 favorite]

Mikeh: On this end it isn't knee-jerk so much as something that I'm not so great at expressing. Perhaps that's what makes it appear knee jerk.

It's that I can't help but feel undereating (and if you're hungry and don't eat, to me that's undereating) is just as much a symptom of food sickess as overeating. Only it's more culturally acceptable as it leaves you in a more acceptable form (slim). Then again, I've swung from undereating to overeating and have found that eating things I like in moderation, excercise, and acceptance of what seems the body size my body aims for (ie, I have to work a lot to gain or lose from this number) made me a lot saner. Obsessing to the extent that you decide to willfully ignore hunger signals doesn't, even if you couch it in terms of purification.

Being a girl may make it different and more personal too; as you do get a *lot* more fucked up body messages, saying I'm just going to eat a moderate amount when I'm hungry can seem a real accomplishment.
posted by dame at 7:47 PM on July 20, 2004

stavros - well, would you say the average South Korean who eats that way is healthy ? Healthier than the average American ?

Oh yes, absolutely. That was my point.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:13 PM on July 20, 2004

that's what I thought - but I didn't feel that my echoing your point would sway any heats and minds of those who think that such a diet, or fasting, is foreign, stange, and crazy.

So, I had to tease it out of you. You should know - you live there but presumeably get back to the States now and then.

Now, about that beer fast.....

I wouldn't recommend it, but I have read somewhere that you can still get the benefits of a caloric restriction diet while taking in extra calories from alcohol because alcohol derived calories don't effect the human metabolism in the same way as do food calories.

But - trust me on this - fasting will likely chase away beer cravings for the duration. You'll want food more, and thoughts of beer will probably recede into your far horizon.

I'm going to drink some beer tonight. While I'm eating delicious FOOD!
posted by troutfishing at 6:42 AM on July 21, 2004


I broke the fast. I'm an eater again. Seafood sampler, mussels, pizza. Tomorrow, leftover pizza (organic whole wheat homemade crust and a huge bed of organic greens... plus a complex organic multi-vegetable salad, out the wazoo....the more you eat, the better you feel - honest.)

And, a 69% dark organic fair trade chocolate bar for dessert - it kicks ass. So good........

It's good to fast once in a while but it's also good to rejoin the world of eaters.
posted by troutfishing at 7:55 PM on July 21, 2004

rejoin the world of eaters

You make it sound so dirty.

Pity you can't get this stuff in America. Or can you?
posted by Summer at 2:41 AM on July 22, 2004

In fact, I broke my fast by going out to a very good seafod restaurant and eating a smoked seafood sampler and some steamed mussels.

I think the mussels gave me food poisoning. My wife didn't eat them, and she feels like $1,000,000 bucks.

I have diarrhea.

Summer - I ate some of that chocolate last night. So - yes, you can. It's very good.
posted by troutfishing at 9:47 PM on July 22, 2004

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