Can Fasting Improve Your Health?

Is Fasting the new Juicing? Remember how a couple years ago, people began sipping all their meals through a straw (for $15 a piece from Whole Foods), imagining it was doing us a world of good…until nutritional studies proved that it was not. We soon learned that the fiber, skin, and pulp found in fruits and vegetables is nutritionally important, and that when we extract them to create a “juice”, we often lose most of their health benefits. The result is a drink that is loaded with sugar, no fiber, and has our stomachs growling again in a matter of an hour.

Now fasting is the new buzz word in nutrition circles, and people often ask my opinion on the subject. Intermittent fasting can be helpful with some health conditions, and it can also be quite harmful with other ones–a well respected heart surgeon only eats from 2:00-4:00pm everyday, he is so committed to its benefits. Umm? No thanks! So I advise my clients to try a 12 hour fast every day. For example, f you finish dinner at 7:00pm, give your body a break from food till 7:00am. Your body really needs that time to detox your organs, rest your digestive tract, allow itself to stop breaking down sugars, and just let your body heal–maybe from a sports injury, a root canal, or even a head cold.

This tip also allows gives your body a few hours between its last meal and bedtime to digest your meal properly. Most Americans eat their largest meal of the day at dinner, and often late in the evening. Afterwards, we lay on the couch or go right to sleep. This does not allow your body to properly digest your food, especially if you are lying flat! You often spend the first few hours of slumber burning off all the sugar you ate at dinner. Even the healthiest whole grains, complex carbohydrates, starchy vegetables, and fruit convert to sugar when they are broken down through digestion. This is not a health “concern”, but only problematic when you eat too close to bedtime. You need at least 3 hours to digest, which is again why fasting can be helpful. If dinner is over at 7:00pm, you have until 10:00pm to digest and unwind before you sleep. And we all know how poorly we sleep and feel in the morning after eating a late dinner in a restaurant accompanied by alcohol, rich food, and dessert. We also wake up exhausted!

Give the 12-14 hour fast a try and let me know how you do. My guess is that you will sleep better and wake up more energized…never a bad thing!

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