Another Healthy Thing I’m Never Going to Do

 

shutterstock_145596868Here’s more irritating health news, from Canada’s National Post:

Fasting for three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough described as “remarkable.”

Although fasting diets have been criticized by nutritionists, research suggests that starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing more white blood cells, which fight off infection.

Scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) say the discovery could be particularly beneficial for those suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy. It could also help the elderly whose immune systems become less effective.

The researchers say fasting “flips a regenerative switch” that prompts stem cells to create white blood cells, essentially restoring the immune system.

Even worse news:

Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose and fat but also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells. During each cycle of fasting, this depletion induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of immune system cells.

In trials, volunteers were asked to fast regularly for between two and four days over a six-month period. Scientists found that prolonged fasting also reduced the enzyme PKA, which is linked to aging and a hormone which increases cancer risk and tumour growth.

“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic [formation of stem cells] system,” added Longo. “When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged.

My problem is, how on earth do you manage to fast for three days?  Or, to put it a different way, How on earth do you manage to fast for three days and end up without killing everyone around you?  Because I don’t know about you, but me, when I’m hungry, I get cranky.  Very cranky.

That’s not to say I won’t try it.  But when I do, I’ll give everyone lots of advance warning.

 

 

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  1. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Does Scotch count as food?

    • #1
  2. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Rob Long: Because I don’t know about you, but me, when I’m hungry, I get cranky. Very cranky.

    That’s because you’re a rich, entitled, Southern California hedonist RINO squish.

    Real conservatives understand the power of individual sacrifice.

    This story is simply scientific vindication for the traditional, conservative values behind Lent, Ash Wednesday, and no-meat-Fridays (not to mention Ramadan and the Jewish fasting days).

    ;-)

    (Tangentially, and yet similarly, whenever I see someone getting on Adbusters Magazine’s Buy-Nothing-Day bandwagon, I love to remind them that there used to be a Buy-Nothing-Day every single week. It was called “Sunday”.)

    • #2
  3. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Vance Richards:

    Does Scotch count as food?

    Only if you’re consuming 2000 calories worth of it in a day.

    That’s about 31 shots of whiskey, or about two shots per hour, assuming that you take eight hours off to sleep.

    • #3
  4. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Rob Long: My problem is, how on earth do you manage to fast for three days?

    But seriously folks, while I’m usually a fan of the National Post (a newspaper founded by Conrad Black to compete against the progressive consensus in Canadian journalism), this article in question really drops the ball by not defining what the researchers considered a “fast”.

    The lack of good, useful, factual information in this article is reminiscent of a Daily Mail stenography job.

    I’d need to know how many calories were the subjects in this research were actually consuming per day. I’d be very, very surprised if the answer is “zero”.

    If I was a betting man, I’d wager that the subjects were actually consuming a high-vitamin, low-calorie liquid diet for three days, accompanied by a reduction in physical activity.

    I think the odds are pretty much zero that they were drinking nothing but water and then heading off every day to their high-pressure job executive producing a cable sitcom.

    • #4
  5. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Another problem I have with the article is terminology:

    “When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged.”

    No. When you “starve”, you die. That’s what the word means, or at least it used to.

    It really drives me CRAZY when someone says something like, “let’s go get something to eat, I’m starving!”

    No. No you are not starving. You are peckish. You might even be really, rather hungry. You are, by no stretch of the imagination, anywhere even close to the vicinity of starving.

    But I’m feeling much better now…

    • #5
  6. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Misthiocracy:

    I’d need to know how many calories were the subjects in this research were actually consuming per day. I’d be very, very surprised if the answer is “zero”.

     Likewise.

    • #6
  7. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Misthiocracy: No. When you “starve”, you die. That’s what the word means, or at least it used to.

    So,  if you feed a cold you’ll starve of fever.

    Which is why the modern version of the saying makes less sense than the original. 

    Seawriter

    • #7
  8. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    As one born overweight, who has remained faithful to that state for every day of almost 60 years since, I can speak to just how difficult it is to remain even on a sensible 2,000 calorie/day diet.  A true fast – eating nothing – would put everyone in my presence in harm’s way in very short order.

    • #8
  9. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    One final point, I promise (though I’ll probably break that promise):

    Traditionally, there’s a feast held at the end of a fast.

    Rob, would three days of fasting go a little easier if the fourth day was November 27th?

    • #9
  10. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Songwriter:

    As one born overweight, who has remained faithful to that state for every day of almost 60 years since, I can speak to just how difficult it is to remain even on a sensible 2,000 calorie/day diet. A true fast – eating nothing – would put everyone in my presence in harm’s way in very short order.

    Ah, but you don’t have to “remain on” a fast. It’s only three days, and there’s a party at the end of it.

    A 2000 calorie a day diet, on the other hand, is meant to be forever.

    Totally different animals.

    • #10
  11. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Rob Long:

     

    My problem is, how on earth do you manage to fast for three days?

    This is pretty much my routine.

    What I don’t understand is how these nutrition guidelines get worked out.

    They say I should eat 3 meals a day.  Breakfast is very important I hear.  A healthy snack between meals is good too.  

    Now… My daily caloric intake should be about 2100 to maintain my weight.

    So I want to eat healthy.  I go to Alladin’s eatery and order the Flavor Savor Special and a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice.  I start with the Fattoush salad (no dressing) and treat myself to a piece of baklava and hot tea for dessert.  A satisfying meal but I’m hardly stuffed.

    But now add in my grande Starbucks 2% Misto in the morning and I’ve reached my limit.

    Where can I possibly fit in breakfast, lunch, and snacks?
     

    Flavor Savor Special
    Our grilled Chicken Mishwi and Beef Kafta on a bed of seasoned white rice with vermicelli, served with mixed greens, alongside Hummus and Falafel

    • #11
  12. user_653084 Inactive
    user_653084
    @SalvatorePadula

    Vance Richards:

    Does Scotch count as food?

    I’ve been on a Laphroaig cleanse. I have to say, I feel great.

    • #12
  13. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Oh crud… I forgot they brought pita to the table and I ate that with my hummus.

    BAM!

    Now I’m obese.  One meal!

    • #13
  14. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Misthiocracy:

    Vance Richards:

    That’s about 31 shots of whiskey, or about two shots per hour, assuming that you take eight hours off to sleep.

     Wouldn’t you have to?

    • #14
  15. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    Its easy if you’re on a low-carb diet actually. Maybe 3 days wouldn’t be easy, but 2 days, do-able. On a low-carb diet your body might not even notice if you haven’t eaten in 24 hours. Or maybe that’s just me. 

    But it takes a couple of months to get into that routine.

    • #15
  16. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    There are actually many health benefits to a diet that mimics starving in certain respects; as AIG notes, a low-carb diet will do the trick, you don’t actually need to be starving.  Although these people apparently did not eat for three days; the effects they saw might require an actual fast.

    Here’s a better news story, and here’s the paper.

    • #16
  17. virgil15marlow@yahoo.com Coolidge
    virgil15marlow@yahoo.com
    @Manny

    Rob Long:

    My problem is, how on earth do you manage to fast for three days? Or, to put it a different way, How on earth do you manage to fast for three days and end up without killing everyone around you? Because I don’t know about you, but me, when I’m hungry, I get cranky. Very cranky.

    That’s not to say I won’t try it. But when I do, I’ll give everyone lots of advance warning.

    I couldn’t do it.  I can’t even skip a meal during Lent.

    • #17
  18. AIG Inactive
    AIG
    @AIG

    Tuck: There are actually many health benefits to a diet that mimics starving in certain respects; as AIG notes, a low-carb diet will do the trick, you don’t actually need to be starving.  Although these people apparently did not eat for three days; the effects they saw might require an actual fast.

     I doubt that a low-carb diet will get the effects these researchers are talking about. But it would be a lot easier to get into a prolonged fast if you’re already on a low-carb diet. 

    There doesn’t seem to be an ungated version of the paper, however. 

    • #18
  19. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Tuck:

    There are actually many health benefits to a diet that mimics starving in certain respects; as AIG notes, a low-carb diet will do the trick, you don’t actually need to be starving. Although these people apparently did not eat for three days; the effects they saw might require an actual fast.

    Here’s a better news story, and here’s the paper.

    The article says “no food”.

    Could someone buy the actual paper and tell me if “no food” means zero calories and zero vitamin supplements, or merely “no solid food”?

    I’d also like to know what the subjects’ health and diet was already like prior to the fast.

    I don’t want to pay the $22 for the paper.

    • #19
  20. Pilli Inactive
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    Dr. Michael Mosley did a show on BBC (aired on PBS) about dieting.  His doctor showed him that he was very high on cholesterol and was pre-diabetic.  He had to diet.

    Mosley’s research found the fasting diet mentioned above.  He also found a variant.

    Two days of fasting per week but the days are not back-to-back.  So, fast on Monday and Thursday but eat normally the rest of the week.  Fasting means a limit of 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men on the day of fasting.  As I recall from the show, Mosley lost about 15 pounds on the 5:2 fast diet for 5 weeks.  His cholesterol went way down and his blood sugar normalized.  He now has a website about it.

    • #20
  21. user_125733 Inactive
    user_125733
    @DebbieStevens

    Misthiocracy:

    No. When you “starve”, you die. That’s what the word means, or at least it used to.

    It really drives me CRAZY when someone says something like, “let’s go get something to eat, I’m starving!”

    No. No you are not starving. You are peckish. You might even be really, rather hungry. You are, by no stretch of the imagination, anywhere even close to the vicinity of starving.

    But I’m feeling much better now…

     Ah – me too!  When I was in fourth grade, a lady came to speak to my class.  She had survived a concentration camp.  I don’t remember much of what she said except that she couldn’t tolerate her own children using the word ‘starving’ now because she remembered all too well what total deprivation had been like.  That has stuck with me for almost 40 years – and drives me crazy to hear my well-fed friends use it so inappropriately.

    Yikes, I gotta get something to eat – I’ve been fasting for almost 3 hours.  I’m getting hangry!

    • #21
  22. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    Misthiocracy:

    Songwriter:

    As one born overweight, who has remained faithful to that state for every day of almost 60 years since, I can speak to just how difficult it is to remain even on a sensible 2,000 calorie/day diet. A true fast – eating nothing – would put everyone in my presence in harm’s way in very short order.

    Ah, but you don’t have to “remain on” a fast. It’s only three days, and there’s a party at the end of it.

    A 2000 calorie a day diet, on the other hand, is meant to be forever.

    Totally different animals.

     Forever.  That is an ominous word.  Especially at 9 o’clock in the evening and you are craving a bowl of ice cream.  These days, however, I have to remind myself that I’ve already eaten a lifetime’s worth of ice cream, and that is assuming I live to be 115 years old.

    • #22
  23. Rachel Lu Contributor
    Rachel Lu
    @RachelLu

    I was pretty into hardcore fasts for awhile when I was about 20. It was a religious thing for me, mostly, but I was also sort of fascinated by the physiological angle.

    So, by the end of a full day of fasting you’re really hungry and grouchy. By the end of day two, you’re just so weak you feel like you can hardly get out of your chair. (You can, but it feels like climbing Everest.) Day three, again weak, with the added feature of not being able to think about anything but food for pretty much the entire day. (I’ve never gone beyond three.) This was nothing-but-water fasting.

    The upshot is, I don’t think killing people is really the concern. To a person who hasn’t eaten in a couple of days, that sounds way too arduous. But there’s a reason why I don’t do serious fasts anymore (even though I’d sort of like to at least a couple of times a year, maybe once each for Advent and Lent. Believe it or not I do actually miss that; it contributes significantly to the experience of the penitential season.) With three little kids, I need to be up and moving for, well, literally most of the day. And I couldn’t possibly do it if I weren’t eating.

    Schedule your 3-day fast for a long weekend when you have nothing special to do. If that ever happens.

    • #23
  24. Podkayne of Israel Inactive
    Podkayne of Israel
    @PodkayneofIsrael

    Misthiocracy:

    This story is simply scientific vindication for the traditional, conservative values behind Lent, Ash Wednesday, and no-meat-Fridays (not to mention Ramadan and the Jewish fasting days).

    Oh come on. Lenten fasting is not at all in the same league with the Jewish fast days, to say nothing of Ramadan. You eat, just not as much, and more significantly, you can drink water. No fainting, no headaches, no dehydration, no violent cramping in the lower back, no “fasting breath”.
     My Moslem friends tell me one gets in to the swing of things after a week or so, but I still don’t see how they manage, and even then, anyone who can sleeps or watches TV all day and stays awake most of the night. (Ramadan traditionally has the best television programming of the whole year.)

    • #24
  25. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    I have a pdf of the article (one of the benefits of working in an academic medical center!).  To anyone who wants to read the whole thing, PM me with your email address and I’ll send it to you.

    • #25
  26. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Caryn:

    I have a pdf of the article (one of the benefits of working in an academic medical center!). To anyone who wants to read the whole thing, PM me with your email address and I’ll send it to you.

    Or, you could read it and answer the questions.

    ;-)

    • #26
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