Not quite a year ago I visited TrueNorth Health located in Santa Rosa California to take a look at the facility and I met with Dr. Goldhammer and Dr. Klaper. It was a very informative visit. They are practicing medicine without medicine. Yet they are healing more people of their lifestyle diseases than traditional pharmaceutical medicine could ever hope to achieve. The one huge difference requires patient participation. People leave their homes and spend a week to many months at TrueNorth to regain their health mainly through water fasting. I kept asking them, how do you get people to commit to coming here and fasting. They admitted it was not a picnic but people left cured and reset to continue forward healthy and off medications. I have been intrigued.
After returning to Florida, I amped up my nutrition class and added cooking and tasting demonstrations. Participants were encouraged to try plant based cooking and more and more are converting to a whole foods plant based diet. So what does fasting add? It is a way to really break all of the habits around eating and reset the taste buds as well as detoxify the system. There is evidence that it is a life extending procedure that will allow transition into a whole plant based way of eating free of salt, sugar and fat. So far in my practice I have never recommended anything that I would not do myself if needed. I believe in exercise so I run marathons and do triathlons. The idea is to set a good example that it can be done. I am plant strong 100%. Hence I felt it was necessary to understand what a fast felt like. I decided on a three day water only fast because at three days the body starts to adapt to the fast and It would be short enough not to interrupt my endurance training. I would just be finishing the Napa Marathon and would be in a rest week so why not rest my whole body.
Day one was pretty mild. Other than the boredom of not cooking, eating or cleaning up after eating, I had no real symptoms. I did not realize how much time and effort was spent on food preparation. The only thing needed was to purchase distilled water and carry my drinking bottle. The protocol was to have blood work done on all three days as well as to record my daily water intake, weight, percent body fat and percent body water. Urine was checked for ketones and specific gravity. I thought I would be hungry but it really did not happen. It was kind of like running. If you decide to run 20 miles, mile three seems like nothing. But if you are going to run 5 miles you are feeling mile 4. So I was fasting for three days so one day did not seem bad.
On day two there was still the disappointment that there was no meal to look forward to. It is amazing how much eating plays a role in our daily lives. My blood work on the second day reflected that I was loosing water but there were no deficiencies. I had no headaches or body aches. My urine did not show ketones. That was somewhat amazing in that I had just run a marathon and depleted my glycogen stores Sunday. It reinforces that I like to eat and replaced them after the marathon. We did enjoy very healthy food post race with plenty of vegetables and rice. I was exposed to more salt and oil eating out however. My water intake on day two was around 90 ounces. The morning of day three I could sense something different. I was a little shaky on rising. It seemed to clear with breakfast water. My pace was definitely slower. I was glad I was only seeing patients half of the day. I had an interview with Timaree Hagerburger, author of The Foodie Bar Way. The wonderful photos in the book were torture. I counted the hours down until my fast was complete. Just like a marathon those last few hours of fasting go by one by one. I had developed a low back ache that was OK standing but not so OK sitting which could be secondary to the marathon or detoxification with the fast. I broke the fast with two mini oranges. Very sweet and delicious. Still hungry I went for some fresh organic celery which was to satisfy my craving for raw vegetables. That tied me over until my carrots were steamed. I ate all four. Next up was baked zucchini. Delicious. The other think I began to experience was a diuresis or water loss that occurred most of the evening. The next morning I felt great. Energy, clarity, and happiness. I had tremendous energy. I took the dogs for a short run and then came home and had some oatmeal. Tasty.
So what did I learn. My cholesterol actually went up over the three days as expected with the breakdown of adipose. My fat percentage as measured by the scale went down as the water percentage went up and then leveled off to what it started at the morning after the fast. My weight went down 8 pounds. I do believe I started water heavy with the extra muscle water post marathon. Things tasted better and my focus was more clear. My recovery from the marathon seemed more complete after 5 days than previous marathons. I had no muscle soreness. It was not easy and I believe the back discomfort was partly from the fast and partly post marathon. It largely went away after eating but I still had some residual after running a few days later. More of a spasm of sorts. It was a mental challenge that was well worth it.
So why would I recommend fasting. All of the above along with the evidence that it is associated with improved longevity by both lengthening telomeres, decreasing TOR and IGF-1. Telomeres are the caps at the end of our genes and deteriorate with aging leading to cell death. TOR and IGF-1 are simulators of cell growth which causes cancer cells to grow and multiply. Lower levels of IGF-1 are found in centenarians. Do you have to fast to decrease these enzyme levels? No, a whole foods plant based diet free of salt and oil can also reverse disease and lower these enzymes over time. Fasting is a way to jump start this process in those wishing to ultimately transition to a plant strong lifestyle. Will I do this again? Yes, because I believe it will help me to eliminate some byproducts that accumulate with heavy endurance training.
If you have questions or comments feel free to email me a firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please check out my podcast: Jami Dulaney MD Plant Based Wellness Podcast
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Doctor Dulaney Plant Based Cardiologist
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