You are probably quite familiar with the topic of fasting, which also happens to be one of my favourite points of discussion. Fasting is a powerful therapeutic remedial tool which, when used properly, has incredible health benefits.
Depending on your fasting intention and method – whether for a few hours, a day, or even a few days – time-restricted calorie intake triggers biological changes that are shown to improve health.
This is something incredible that happens. Autophagy means ‘where the body eats itself’. It’s a process in which the body devours recycled damaged and distressed cellular organelles and replaces them with better functioning ones. The result is renewed cells that are better equipped to fight off disease and distress, supporting longevity.
Take skin tags, premature ageing and sunspots, for example. When you activate autophagy, you start rejuvenating the body and by balancing your blood sugar levels you will start feeling better and the skin tags (a sign of insulin resistance/diabetes) and sunspots will reduce or fade.
On another level, fasting switches your metabolism into fat-burning mode, which gets activated when insulin levels remain low. Inversely, when insulin levels are high the body stores glucose as fat while simultaneously shuts down the body’s ability to burn fat.
Just giving your gut a rest is beneficial to its overall functioning. It allows the gut wall to strengthen, balances the gut microbiome and, while resting, reduces any intestinal inflammation. By starving the harmful gut bacteria that are prone to overgrowth, fasting can support optimal bacterial balance.
How one breaks a fast is almost as important as the fasting itself. People often make the mistake of not eating properly after fasting, which undermines their efforts and minimises the benefits. After fasting, it’s key to adopt a mindful connection to food.
Here are some basic guidelines:
- Avoid foods that raise blood glucose and insulin levels. Sugars, carbohydrates and even fructose will boost insulin levels and prevent fat burning.
- Avoid pro-inflammatory compounds that irritate the gut, contribute to bacterial overgrowth and burden the mitochondria, which in turn hobbles the role they play in autophagy. Examples include gluten, vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, sugars, processed foods and refined carbohydrates.
- Try to stay off solid foods, as long as possible, that fully activate the digestive system.
Tips for a healthy breakfast
These are my recommended tips for a healthy breakfast.
- Hot water and lemon (lemon juice on its own breaks a fast) or apple cider vinegar (you can add some cinnamon to it). Citric acid starts developing enzymes to help digest the food.
- Bone broth or collagen powder as it keeps your blood sugar and insulin low. I would suggest adding to a cup of black coffee. Black coffee is fine after a fast, as long as you can tolerate it. Caffeine has been linked to increased anxiety levels in some women.
Then, because you have been fasting, take it slow. Explore these gentle and solid food combinations.
- Eggs, avocado and vegetables
- Fish and vegetables
While many people experience constipation when fasting (in which case, I recommend magnesium), others experience diarrhoea. If you fall into the latter group, have activated charcoal when you break your fast.
Tips for during your fast
Tip 1 — Your adrenals control potassium and sodium, two important minerals in your body. So if you are suffering from adrenal fatigue (burnout) you may feel wiped if your body is depleted of certain minerals. In which case, add some Himalayan salt to your water during your fast, or trace minerals. I love trace minerals and I put about 10 or 12 drops of trace minerals in my water. It’s enough to replenish the body.
Tip 2 — When you drink water during your fast, you’re getting a different form of hydration – cellular hydration. Which is why I don’t recommend drinking gallons of water while fasting as you risk flushing everything out instead of hydrating your cells.
Tip 3 — Also consider adding prebiotic powder to your water, it feeds the good bacteria in your gut and it helps you feel full so that when your meal comes around, you don’t eat everything in sight.
As there is no one rule that fits all, listen to your body. Find a fasting technique that works for you and make plans to nourish your body correctly afterwards. My other recommendation is to change things up. Change your fasting methods, or even take a break from time to time, because our bodies can reach a state of ‘complacency’.
Watch my IGTV on ‘Female Fasting’
In short, I am a big believer in the power of fasting and the importance of breaking a fast correctly. Naturally, everybody is different. For example, men’s bodies respond very differently to women’s bodies when fasting. To learn more about how women can harness this effective approach to boosting their health, watch my IGTV Live below.