Der Tagesspiegel (Germany): fasting rejuvenates?

as we approach the first day of lent. There comes a time when Christian Western Europe traditionally restricted diet. But fasting in a different form occurs almost in every religion and culture.

Now become increasingly popular, certain variants of fasting. With God, religion and spiritual self-flagellation often this has little to do. Food refusal should rather help weight loss, fight with all sorts of diseases or their prevention. Fasting is intended to make people in General more healthy, bring in a good shape, and, possibly, prolong life. But what is really known about the healing power of fasting?

What was the point of starvation in the old days?

in Ancient Egypt was in Vogue some form of fasting, for example, the refusal of eating fish during spawning in the Nile. Christian post when for religious reasons 40 days before Easter not eating meat, according to anthropologists, was intended to keep cattle. In late winter, often eat different food, and cattle were the excess calories. And it should be protected.

for Example, at this time, brought the offspring of the sow. It was a guarantee of protein foods for the whole year, if the farmer left pigs live and feed.

And yet these pragmatic reasons were definitely not the only one. Almost any religion and any region of the world include some form of fasting.

At least we can assume that the post was a kind of measure to protect the health, because people over the centuries and millennia of accumulated knowledge about the beneficial effects of fasting.

is There a “post” in nature?

many species of animals continually or periodically happen more or less prolonged periods of fasting. Predators, for example, you can’t always catch your prey when they’re hungry.

And in herbivores may be a problem with the power supply, such as during a drought.

animals, hibernating, periods of fasting are very long, it is at the genetic level programmed in their behaviour and metabolism.

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Periods of excess and shortage of power followed each other and in the lives of our ancestors. Survive those who are best to others endured malnutrition, and those who managed to get food, including from inventory. They bred and passed on their genes.

Precisely because of this evolutionary heritage, we, the people, likely, are generally able to voluntarily and without harm to health today to refuse food for a long time.

the Modern followers of the starvation sign, as they are positive in the days without food, how crisp and clear they have thought of how active they are in the physical plane. It makes evolutionary sense. It is during periods of fasting there comes a time when you must be better ready to produce food.

so when a star of Silicon valley and head of Twitter Jack Dorsey talks about his high feelings and clear thoughts in the days with zero calories, it is purely from a biochemical point of view turns into a hungry, ready for all the hunter’s in the vast Savannah of our ancestors.

How to explain the current Renaissance of starvation?

the Reasons why all the painshe people show interest in a fast, varied. Its role in refusal of food — at least in countries where nobody has to go hungry against their will, could play a widespread excess food, and finding spiritual fulfillment of life, including and without specific religious doctrine.

Many think of fasting as simply a relatively straightforward possibility to reduce weight by dropping calories. Probably many reports that the temporary refusal of food improves health and may even prolong life, be a determining factor.

What happens in the body during fasting?

After many hours without food the body resets the metabolism. It no longer uses glucose from carbohydrates and converts the fats in the liver in the so-called ketones. They can supply energy to nearly all cells of the body. Additional released molecules to protect the cells, because the lack of power — it’s stress.

the Important factor is the lack of production of insulin, because the sugar enters the bloodstream through the intestines. In this state the body is better able to destroy and recycle damaged cells. In addition, there is a restoration of genetic material. These protective reactions, also known as hormesis, many researchers consider as the real cause of the positive impact of fasting on health.

What types of fasting are there?

the classic rejection of the meat, due to the spread of veganism and movements in climate protection has received a new dimension, you can add a number of other variations. For example, multi-day or week courses of fasting almost do without the intake of calories. These courses are specialized organizations, and usually they are accompanied by other procedures, such as taking laxatives and liver cleanse, and exercise.

But this requires to completely fall out of everyday life.

To the religious options of fasting Muslims a refusal of food and water during Ramadan. Here it is, in fact, about the very popular so-called interval fasting — the regular alternation of longer periods of time without food and periods when power is permitted.

Why interval fasting now so popular?

There are a variety of options for intermittent fasting. Week 5:2 implies that five days a person eats as usual, and two days very much limit itself in meal. Another option is complete abstinence from food one or more times a week. Thus the fasting phase lasts about 36 hours, because evening without dinner should be even and night.

Under the system of fasting 16:8 daily time window for meals is limited to six-eight hours. Such programs are popular including because, in contrast to multi-day programs, they are relatively easy to fit into your daily routine.

Metabolism is best reconfigured when the last phase of the fasting ended in not long ago and the body still has the necessary enzymes and genes activated.

that interval fasting promote a star also plays a role. In recent years, positive evaluation of scientists. In a recently published study proven in a special edition of New England Journal of Medicine the authors come to the conclusion that the interval fasting has a number of advantages for health andnbsp;it may even prolong life.

What is the scientific evidence for a beneficial health effect?

treat minor pain with starvation, not drugs — this was said by Hippocrates. Meanwhile, some doctors and epidemiologists attributed to fasting a lot more potential, considering that it is able to prevent serious illness or to help cope with them.

In fact, there are a number of animal studies prove that interval fasting subjects suffer less than their relatives that eat as usual. Even tumors grow less active or even not grow.

But experimental animals — not people. However, scientific data based on studies involving humans show that suffering from overweight at interval fasting to lose weight. In addition, there are positive mental changes, and many of the blood counts are changing for the better, including with regard to insulin, blood lipids, cholesterol and some substances that regulate inflammation. And some studies even reveal the elderly to improve memory.

What is the evidence for the rejuvenating and life-prolonging effect?

has Long been debate about whether it would be useful for health permanent restriction in food intake and prolongs it life. For worms and mice, it is an indisputable fact.

as for people, for centuries appeared impressive individual testimonies. For example, it is possible to call records of a man named Luigi Cornaro, who lived in the XV and XVI centuries in Padua. When he was 35 years old, the doctors told him that he would live long. After that Cornaro was to follow a strict diet. He lived to be 100 or 102 years and almost never complained about his health.

This beautiful story becomes even more beautiful, if you know that then allowed every day to drink three glasses of red wine. But neither in the days of Cornaro, no today there is no study involving men that offered proven conclusions.

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Much of what people know about fasting, it fits in the argument of those who consider it a source of eternal youth. Starvation triggers a process in which the body of toxins and repair damaged genes. Molecules that neutralize free radicals. There are growth factors which, in particular, ensure the growth of brain cells and strengthen connections between them. Happening and many other good processes.

But all this to become the second Cornaro — Cornaro or lived in good health more than 100 years only due to good genes? No one knows that. Since the relevant studies would be extremely costly and time-consuming, yet everything will remain as it is. Would otherwise have to observe the condition of a great many of the study participants over many years — from youth to more of a late death and in great detail to record what and how they eat as well as take into account a lot of other factors that may also play an important role.

are There any other advantages?

Sociologists and psychologists see the positive aspect of fasting in the firstYu turn that produces a conscious approach to one’s own body. Also it is associated with such problems as gluttony and hunger in the modern world. Undoubtedly, the rejection of entire meals and cooking can save you time — unless you still have to cook for the children and other family members.

What the critics say?

Doctors who have traditional medical education, considered the refusal of food is fundamentally harmful. Arguments in favor of fasting was not too many in the first place was the following: those who do not eat more than a couple hours, installed the so-called catabolic metabolism. This means that reduces the volume of the body, not only fat but also protein from the muscles.

Prolonged catabolic metabolism leads to death, and it is typical for certain severe diseases, in particular for a running cancer. In the short term also is the release of toxins and a General weakening of the body. Mentioned research results and data on the metabolism and biochemistry have led many physicians to change their opinion.

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currently, the main criticism focused on the fact that a significant amount of research dedicated to only weight, levels of sugar and fat in the blood and some other indices. Diabetology of Heidelberg Peter Paul Nawroth (Nawroth Peter Paul) calls these numbers “a surrogate parametermi”, because they say nothing about whether people who regularly arrange fasting days, feel better than those who are not torment yourself with hunger, and whether or not they get sick less and are less likely to suffer from heart attacks, complications of diabetes and dementia.

About the same time, according to Nawrot, “there is simply no data.” Nutritionists also tend to believe that many questions still remain open. Add to this that most studies associated with different versions of fasting, only lasted a few months. Therefore, long-term information regarding the aforementioned “surrogate parameters” is missing.

From a purely practical point of view, the results of these studies also evidence that it is very difficult to conduct long-term observations of the diet of the subjects.

However, one recent study confirmed that fasting interval at least as useful as the so-called Mediterranean diet involving the consumption of large amounts of vegetables, vegetable oils and fish.

Who should avoid fasting?

Among healthy people, the negative effects of fasting interval have been identified. One of the most controversial variants of fasting — “diet of Brousa”, which is recommended by some adherents of the so-called alternative therapies for cancer. It lasts 42 days and is not intended to receive solid food. When the patient eats daily a small quantity of vegetables, as a result, the idea is that cancer “dying from hunger”. It often happens — at least they say that the tumor is really decreasing in size.

At the same time, however, reduced in size also the rest of the body tissue of the patient and weakens the immune system. And when the power resumes, again starts and the growth of cancerous tumors, which weakened the patients are no longer able to resist.

However, in diabetics, according to the research, with significantly improved blood tests. However, they need the most careful medical supervision due to potential complications.

Children are fundamentally harmful to starve because they are in the process of growth and have limited reserves.

Wrapped in the wrapper of the cultural practices of fasting, seem to confirm these data. For example, children who have not reached puberty, do not need to fast in Ramadan. Only overly religious parents force children to fast.

Pregnant women fasting strictly contraindicated. If they nevertheless dare to take this step, you risk a child who threatens to be born premature and with birth defects. People with eating disorders doctors also advise to refuse from starvation due to the increased risks associated with it.

the new York times contain estimates of the solely foreign media and do not reflect the views of the editorial Board of the new York times.