Dr. Laura: Can Fasting Heal Auto Immune Disease?

Fasting is known to initiate cellular clean-up, reduce inflammation, heal leaky gut and reset the immune system. What better formula could we ask for when it comes to autoimmune disease?

Can Fasting Really Help AutoImmune Suffering?

After a recent talk at Goodness Me! I did on the safety of fasting, I was left with more questions on how fasting could help those suffering with autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis, Sjogren’s, celiac, diabetes type I, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

In the interim I have played with intermittent fasting over the past couple of months and my body says “thank you!” My digestion has not been this good for years and the persistent scalp psoriasis has all but disappeared. Even when I eat tomatoes, a common trigger for me. It seems anacdotal, however fellow colleagues in the the functional medicine industry like Mark Hyman, Amy Myers, and Courtney Sperlazza all agree.

What Kind of Fasting?

There are many kinds of fasting. We fast when we exclude a single food or types of foods from our diet. So the 30-day reset with no grains, sugar or dairy is a type of fast. This is a good start. The Ketogenic diet is a type of fast too. A Keto diet for a while may be helpful because it switches the body from a carb burning engine to a fat burning engine. But here I am talking about intermittent and more extended fasts to give complete
digestive rest
. When the body is not busy digesting and sorting out where to use or store the blood sugar, it can focus on cellular clean up and repair. Of course when you do eat, nutrient dense foods are a must because you are eating less overall and will need to pack the nutrients you need into less meals. If you are sensitive to foods, like tomatoes, dairy, wheat and sugar for me, that doesn’t mean I go back to eating them all the time. If at all. My excuse was I was in beautiful Italy and learning to make a succulent Bolognese sauce.

Can Anyone Fast?

No. Fasting isn’t for everyone. Not for children or pregnant mothers, those who are malnourished or those with anorexia or bulimia – that’s just playing with fire. Fasting also has to be monitored if you are on medications or have certain medical conditions. Medical complications include gout, cardiac arrhythmia, and postural hypotension.

How Long to Fast?

There is nothing written in stone about the perfect length of fast. And if you ever feel nauseous, dizzy or unwell you should eat. This isn’t about starvation. It’s about digestive rest. It’s about resetting insulin sensitivity and the immune system. Also, we know where the food is and have access to it if we need it. So it’s not starvation.

What Foods are Allowed?

As I mentioned above there are no real rules and there are many different  types and lengths of fasts. If you are on the thinner side and can’t stand to loose some weight, then you better consider bone broth fasts, where there are some nutrients and fat going in. If you have a little loving around that waist line, you likely can feed off that for a while and have coffee, tea and of course LOTS OF WATER.

For more information on whether fasting is right for you, and how to do it, book an appointment with Dr. Laura M. Brown ND. 519.826.7973.

 

Dr. Laura: Is Fasting Safe?

Fasting is part of the human existence for thousands of years. As you will learn in this article, not only is it safe, it has numerous health benefits.

Image result for empty plate

What is fasting?

There are many ways people approach a fast. It is simply a period of not eating. It may be done weekly until you reach your health targets, seasonally, or a couple times a year. Water intake is necessary during periods of fasts, as our bodies can do without calories, but not without water. Many choose to fast overnight (most common) from dinner to breakfast, or 7pm to 7am – a 12 hour fast. Then “break-fast” is just that, it breaks the fast. Recently it has gained more popularity and there are different lengths of fasts.

  • intermittent fast, lasting 12-20 hours
  • 24 hour fasts
  • 36 hour fasts
  • extended fasts

Sometimes on the intermittent fasts, people will have a coffee or tea and water while they are not eating. If you truly wish to detoxify, caffeine free is the way to go. So herbs in water or  lemon certainly is less stimulating. For others they choose to incorporate bone broth, which really has proteins and fats in it, but can be suitable for introductory fasting and digestive rest.

Are there benefits to fasting?

  • weight loss
  • reset insulin sensitivity
  • digestive rest
  • more powerful than low carb, ketogenic diets alone
  • protects from illness and maintains wellness
  • provides spiritual cleansing or purification
  • no cooking, cleaning, or grocery shopping!
  • mental clarity
  • overcome stubborn weight plateaus

Will I get hungry?

Hunger may set in, same as if you were at work and didn’t get a break and had to wait to eat, same experience – you push it through till it’s time to eat. But you should never feel nauseated, ill, dizzy or faint. If you do really feel the intense need to eat, it’s easy – you eat. Then you could try the fasting again next week.

Fasting will switch you body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates. If your body is primed to burn carbs, you will need to get over the initial bout of strong carb cravings before the fat burning kicks in.

What do I eat when I am not fasting?

What you eat when you are not fasting depends on the reasons for your fast. If you are trying to loose weight or reset your insulin sensitivity, then a ketogenic diet may be best. For those on a digestive fast, re-introduce with easy to digest and simple combinations of foods. A spiritual fast? Then you likely just go back to your regular way of healthy eating. Regardless, you do no want to eat to make up for the time you fasted: that’s counterproductive. If you are doing one or two 24 hours fasts per week (having a couple one meal a day kind of routine), then when you are eating regular on the other days, eat the most healthy vibrant life-filled food that you can. Avoid things that are packaged or processed to get the most nutrition you can on the days you eat.

When is fasting not safe?

Fasting is not safe for the following people:

  • children aged 18 or under
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding
  • thin, weak or feeble
  • nutritionally deficit

Fasting needs to be medically monitored for the following people:

  • those with gout
  • those taking medications
  • if you have type 1 or 2 diabetes
  • those with gastro reflux disease

For questions or advice on what kind or whether fasting is right for you, book an appointment to review with Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND. (519) 826-7973.

References:

Fun Jason. 2016. The complete guide to fasting. Victory Belt Publishing. Las Vegas.

Before Guelph Walks for Memories on Sept. 19th, consider these 5 steps to improve your memory and brain health.

Before Guelph Walks for Memories on Sept. 19th, consider these 5 steps to improve your memory and brain health.

Having a senior’s moment? Forgot where you put the keys? Muddling through the better part of the morning and coffee just doesn’t seem to kick start the engine anymore? Brain fog happens to those of all ages and sometimes there is something definitive we could do to provide clarity on the situation.

5 ways that could improve your memory now.

  1. Diet & Digestion
  2. Detoxify
  3. Boost Cell Power
  4. Control Stress
  5. Exercise

 brain

  1. Diet and Digestion

Did you know good digestion is key to brain function? A diet high in vegetables (6-8 cups daily) with a few fruits (1-3 a day) will provide phytonutrients and antioxidants to reduce inflammation, add fibre to keep your bowels moving & toxins excreted. Natural source of probiotics like kefir, natural sauerkraut, Kimchi, natural yogurt, raw cheese to boost not only digestion so you can better extract the nutrients from your food, but also mood and immune boosting properties. Adequate protein (0.8- 1.0g/kg) serves as the building block for many neurotransmitters-particles that send information across your brain and throughout your body. Healthy fats (fish oil, olive oil, flax seed oil, coconut, avocado), line the nerve sheaths and cell membranes helping information pass more expediently. Nerve transmission is helped with B vitamins found in whole grains and lean meat. Maintaining steady blood glucose helps stream a steady supply of glucose to the brain, its one source of energy.

  1. Detoxify

Heavy metals, pesticides, cosmetic chemicals and environmental pollutants build up in our bodies over time. A gentle detox program with hydrotherapy, botanical medicines, natural cleansing supplements and an anti-inflammatory diet will help the body rid itself of toxic burden.

  1. Boost Cell Power

The cellular powerhouse is the mitochondria. There are more mitochondria in brain cells than any other part of the body. Mitochondria use oxygen so it is important to keep a steady supply of oxygen flowing to the brain. Red blood cells carry the oxygen from our lungs through our body and brain. Great circulation is key (see exercise) and medicinal mushrooms are superb for boosting red blood cell health. Mitochondria are well served with many nutrients, however key ones are B-vitamins, Co-Q10, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and magnesium malate. Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about what may be right for you.

  1. Control Stress

Ongoing stress leads to prolonged release of cortisol, which lends itself to insulin dysregulation (poor blood sugar control), chronic inflammation, memory lapses, fatigue and depression. Consider a lifestyle counseling, a soothing massage, a series of acupuncture treatments to reduce stress, or a lovely botanical adaptogen to help regulate the adrenal glands – the producer of cortisol.

  1. Exercise

Regular exercise will help regulate cortisol, improve your capacity to sweat and release toxins through your skin and lungs. It will mobilize and regulate your bowels to excrete the solid toxins.  It will also help you sleep better, a critical function to healing and rejuvenation. Moving your body improves lymphatic circulation so helps your immune function. Another key factor for exercise is the increased transport of oxygen to your brain. A great reason to get out and Walk for Memories in Guelph on September 19th.

If brain fog persists, see your doctor. In serious cases, it can signal an underlying neurological or inflammatory condition, such as Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, food sensitivity or diabetes. Above all, don’t accept brain fog as a simple factor of aging. With the right support, you can stay sharp and protect brain health — at any age.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Please note that the above is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute individual medical advice. Please book an appointment for your individualized medical treatment plan.