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How to Use Intermittent Fasting Strategies to Prevent or Overcome Cancer

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Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the January 2017 edition of TTAC’s Heroes Against Cancer member newsletter.

I will often ask people… “if there was something you could do that every great sage and spiritual leader throughout history has done, was no-cost, and would have a significant impact on your overall health and vitality… would you do it?”

Fasting has been practiced by all of our ancestors unintentionally due to a lack of available food at times. It has also been practiced consciously by many of the most intelligent and spiritually advanced people around the world. This healing strategy costs no money and has an incredibly rejuvenating effect on the immune system and cellular mechanics.

The only challenge is that we have to break free from the societal programming that tells us we need to have three meals a day plus snacks in between. We have to liberate ourselves from the idea that we are going to starve if we skip a meal.

Historical Mentions of Fasting

Fasting is mentioned in the Bible and is part of many religious and spiritual practices, both past and present

In Biblical times, fasting was a normal part of a spiritual life. Jesus fasted for 40 days before beginning his ministry. Many of the prophets discussed fasting, and Jesus, when talking to his disciples and followers said, “When you fast…” This reference shows that fasting was a normal way of life for the Hebrew people.

The Greek historian Herodotus (484-425 BC) believed the Egyptians to be much healthier than the Greeks due to their regular fasting practices. He was quoted as saying that “The Egyptians are the healthiest of men, since each month for 3 days they conduct purification by vomiting and enemas, believing that a person receives all illness through food.”

Fasting is mentioned in the Bible and is part of many religious and spiritual practices, both past and present.

Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, once said,

"The addition of food should be much rarer, since it is often useful to completely take it away while the patient can withstand it, until the force of the disease reaches its maturity. The man carries within him a doctor; you just have to help him do his work. If the body is not cleared, then the more you feed it, the more it will be harmed. When a patient is fed too richly, the disease is fed as well. Remember – any excess is against nature."

Fasting for Metabolic Flexibility and Energy Efficiency

As you begin to understand how fasting benefits your body, you need to know some basic terminology. The key terms are metabolic flexibility and energy efficiency.

  • Metabolic flexibility is the ability to change your metabolism to meet the demands of your environment.

  • Energy efficiency is the ability to use your energy in the most efficient matter possible to meet all the energy needs of the body.

As humans, we had to adapt to a number of different challenging environments in the past. We have been forced to run, climb, fight, lift, starve, and even kill in order to survive.

Our ancestors did not always have ready access to food and would regularly experience times of food shortage and famine. These challenges primed our physiology and gave us a stronger survival advantage by developing our ability to change our metabolism to meet the unique demands we face.

In our modern 21st century society, we don’t have to do many of these things any more. We can basically sit back and stay stationary all day while continuously feeding ourselves. This causes a loss of metabolic flexibility and energy efficiency – making us weaker as a species and more susceptible to infections and chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and even some types of cancer.

How to Improve Your Metabolic Flexibility and Energy Efficiency

Someone with a high level of metabolic flexibility and energy efficiency will be able to immediately produce a high level of strength and speed to accomplish a particular task. They are also able to think sharply and clearly and be productive and creative in their endeavors. Finally, they are also able to comfortably go at least 16 to 18 hours without food.

There are a number of different ways to improve your overall metabolic flexibility and energy efficiency. Here are 5 key ways:

  1. Intermittent Fasting or Prolonged Water Fasting Periods

  2. Ketogenic Diet or Cyclical Ketogenic Diet

  3. Interval and Resistance Training Exercises

  4. Improving Digestive Health

  5. Nutritional Supplementation

All of these strategies work to help the body to run more efficiently. In this article we will do a deep dive into fasting and touch on the ketogenic diet which plays a role with fasting.

What Is a Ketogenic Diet or Cyclical Ketogenic Diet?

Burning ketones instead of glucose as a primary fuel source provides numerous health benefits, including for many types of cancer

A ketogenic diet works by restricting glucose and supporting the body’s ability to produce an alternative energy source called ketones. Ketones are the breakdown product of fatty acids that the body uses to produce cellular energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

In order for your body to produce and utilize ketones, you must restrict your consumption of foods that get converted into glucose in the body

This includes both sugar and starch as well as high levels of protein.

Ketone metabolism produces an abundant amount of cellular energy (36 ATP) as compared to glucose metabolism (2 ATP). In addition, glucose metabolism produces a tremendous amount of metabolic waste and inflammation, compared to ketone metabolism. This makes ketones a much cleaner energy source than glucose. As a result, a ketone- or fat-adapted individual will have lower levels of metabolic waste production as well as lower levels of inflammation in their body.

When the body is trained to use ketones for energy, it becomes much more metabolically flexible and energy efficient. The individual is then able to go longer periods without food and is able to preserve muscle mass even in times of famine.

Any individual who is fasting will burn fat stores and produce ketones. These ketones provide the energy source needed to continue to move and do all the things necessary for living. Using ketones as a primary energy source also helps the body to cleanse and detoxify more effectively during a fast.

Fasting Allows Energy Conservation and Reduces Digestive Inflammation

In physics, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant, and it is said to be conserved over time. The body – even though it is not exactly an isolated system – has a certain amount of energy it can produce at any given time. The key to great health is in how efficient we are at using that energy.

You need energy for the digestive system, the immune system, tissue regeneration, physical movement (kinetics), to maintain mental focus, and to carry out many other activities. We all have a certain amount of energy that remains constant in order to do all of these things.

Digestion is a very energy demanding process, meaning that it takes a lot of energy to break down and digest the food you consume and absorb the nutrients into your body. Fasting allows you to utilize stored nutrients without the energy demand of digestion. It also challenges your body to be more efficient with the resources it has.