Fasting has been an increasingly popular approach to health management is recent years, with benefits including weight loss, better blood sugar and lipid levels, muscle building and longevity. Scientific evidence has shown the benefits of fasting on these aspects of health, and the way that fasting can help our body reset and heal itself naturally. But can there also be benefits of fasting for those on an autoimmune protocol? And when should fasting be implemented in this case? In this article we take a closer look at the different protocols for fasting and how it can benefit autoimmune disease.
Types Of Fasting
There are many different types of fasting. Fasting can vary based on the length of time spent fasting, whether hours or days, and what foods are eliminated during this time, whether it is all food and drink, foods and drinks containing calories, or other specific food items. One of the most popular and manageable forms of fasting that is most commonly undertaken today is called intermittent fasting. While intermittent fasting can take many different forms, generally it involves a period when any food or drinks can be consumed, followed by a period where no food or drinks (apart from water) are consumed. This cycle is then repeated.
In intermittent fasting, the fasting phase (where no food or drink is taken) can last from 16 hours to 36 hours, sometimes even longer, although this is not common in health and wellness practice.
Protocols For Intermittent Fasting
Most intermittent fasting protocols follow a similar sort of pattern involving a feeding period, followed by a period of abstaining from food, followed by another feeding period, and so on. Where the protocols differ is in how long each of the period are and how frequently they are performed.
One of the shortest periods is a 16 hour fast, generally considered the minimum length of fasting before which a benefit is experienced. The 16 hour fast is alternated with an 8 hour feeding window where meals can be consumed. This kind of fast can be performed everyday if desired, which provides great benefits as well as the consistency of the same routine each day.
Providing a slightly longer length of fasting, a 20 hour fast includes only 4 hours during which food is eaten, which can amount to one or perhaps two meals a day. This protocol is a little more challenging due to the decreased amount of eating time.
For less frequent fasting sessions, the times can be increased, from 24 to even 32 hours. These fasting protocols are great for those who don’t want to fast very often and can maintain a fast for 24 hours or more. In a 24 hour fast, you could stop eating at 8pm on Monday and fast until 8pm on Tuesday when you can recommence eating. In a 32 hour fast, nothing is eaten in one whole day. For example, eating ceases on Monday evening and fasting continues all day Tuesday until the first meal is eaten again on Wednesday morning. Some people fast every day, using a protocol like the 16:8 fasting system, whereas other might fast only 13 times per week using a 24 hour or a 32 hour fast. It all depends on the body’s fasting capabilities and personal preference.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting provides an array of health benefits in a variety of areas, and these benefits have been backed by a range of scientific evidence. Intermittent fasting has been shown to prolong lifespan, improve insulin sensitivity, and lower cholesterol. It has been shown to have beneficial hormonal effects, increasing growth hormone and normalising appetite hormones. It can also help to improve mood, boost energy, and give the body and digestive system a rest in order to recover and heal itself.
For autoimmune disease, intermittent fasting can provide a host of benefits too. It can give the body time to rest from digestion which is useful if the gut is distressed. Fasting also assists in flushing out toxins and destroying cells in the body that are no longer functioning properly, for a fresher, healthier body.
Fasting and Autoimmune
Many people want to know if fasting can be done on the autoimmune paleo protocol. Fasting can certainly benefit sufferers of autoimmune disease and produce many positive effects, but care must be taken with integrating fasting into the right phase of the autoimmune protocol.
Firstly, it should be acknowledged that fasting is not for everyone. Starting your fast can be an intense procedure and can be very difficult to start out with. If you are currently under a lot of stress, or have not been getting enough sleep, it’s recommended that you don’t fast, as this can put added pressure on the body and increase cortisol levels.
In terms of fasting for autoimmune disease, the fasting should take place during any elimination phases, as these phases are already restrictive enough as it is.
How To Fast
If you’d like to try fasting for yourself, start by implementing a shorter fast, say 16 hours, once a week. Remember that your fasting time includes time that you are asleep as well. You can always drink water, but other food and drinks should be avoided. Fasting will involve feeling hungry to some degree. When you are ready to break the fast and start eating again, choose a balanced meal with healthy proteins,lots of nonstarchy vegetables and beneficial fats. You won’t feel too good if you fill up on carbs, so avoid starchy veggies and fruits.
If you’re interested in giving yourself a challenge and trying something different for some exciting health benefits, intermittent fasting is a great way to renew and heal your body while promoting excellent health as well.