Healing by Fasting

By Desmond Yeoh SC

pexels-photo-723031.jpegFasting has been used for decades in Ayurveda for healing. In Ayurveda, fasting is referred to as ‘Pratyahara’. Modern science has now validated the virtue of fasting as a means of fighting cancer, Alzheimer, Parkinson’s disease and many other illnesses which modern medicine can do very little to help. Autophagy has even been found to be able to slow down the aging process as well.

Yoshinori Ohsumi, a Japanese cell biologist specializing in autophagy and a professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology, received the Kyoto Prize for Basic Sciences in 2012, the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and the 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for his discoveries of mechanisms for Autophagy.

In Ancient Greek, autophagy means “self-devouring”. This is not as scary as it sounds because in autophagy, the body devours the toxins in our body that builds up as we age and eventually lead to serious illnesses. According to Colin Champ, M.D., a board-certified radiation oncologist, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and author of Misguided Medicine, “Autophagy makes us more efficient machines to get rid of faulty parts, stop cancerous growths, and stop metabolic dysfunction like obesity and diabetes”.

Intermittent fasting is one way of triggering Autophagy in our body. Dr Mindy Pelz had created many useful YouTube videos on Autophagy. In one of these videos (link), she explained that Autophagy is trigger after fasting for 16 hours. Some of her patients eat only dinner and therefore, are fasting for 24 hours a day.  Jason Fung in its article in Diet Doctor (link) explained that, “Nutrient deprivation is the key activator of autophagy. Remember that glucagon is kind of the opposite hormone to insulin. It’s like the game we played as kids – ‘opposite day’. If insulin goes up, glucagon goes down. If insulin goes down, glucagon goes up. As we eat, insulin goes up and glucagon goes down. When we don’t eat (fast) insulin goes down and glucagon goes up. This increase in glucagon stimulates the process of autophagy. In fact, fasting (raises glucagon) provides the greatest known boost to autophagy. This is in essence a form of cellular cleansing. The body identifies old and substandard cellular equipment and marks it for destruction. It is the accumulation of all this junk that may be responsible for many of the effects of aging”.

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