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Dr. Norris J. Chumley Satisfied Life

I’ve been fasting, and thinking about fasting for many years.  I have been writing about it, and there are lots of great comments, take a look here. Seems a lot of us are very interested in fasting.

For almost a decade I fasted one day a month, as part of a spiritual meditation practice in the 70’s.  While the fast day was a bit difficult, I felt great the next day and subsequent weeks.  It helped me keep my appetite in check, and my weight loss maintained.

Today I read in the March 2009 edition of the Nutrition Action Health Letter, an excellent and easy-to-read source of healthy news published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest
that fasting and overall calorie restriction can lead to longer lives, sometimes 25-30% longer in animals.  This is not tested in humans, though, yet movements of people who are restricting their calories indicate growing interest.

In the article, Mark Mattson, the lead researcher in a study conducted by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on calorie deprivation in mice said, “we think the fasting imposes a mild stress that triggers adaptive responses in the cells…this ultimately enhances their ability to cope with more severe stress.”  Interesting, does fasting help us cope with stress better?  By putting stress on ourselves by eating less (up to 25% fewer calories) do we learn to better cope with other stress?

The article also mentions a study of every-other day fasting leading to weight loss and lower fasting insulin levels (a marker associated with longevity) in the Pennington study.  The people involved said that fasting every other day “was no picnic,” however!  So that’s probably not an option for most people.  Seems extreme to me, and not something I’d do.

Eric Ravussin, chief of the Pennington program, says, “The solution may be an intermittent, modified fast in which people eat about 25 percent of their calories instead of zero percent on their fasting days.”  That might be a more tolerable, and effective approach.

My personal experience is whenever I don’t give in to foods, particularly high-calorie or high-fat ones like ice-cream or desserts, I instantly feel better.  The act of renouncing excess, unnecessary food does indeed help me handle stress, and feel better about myself, in addition to maintaining my weight.

I recommend taking a look at the Nutrition Action Health Letter article, and the Pennington Study, and also doing some more detective work yourself on the subject of fasting.  Of course, ask your doctor if fasting and calorie deprivation is right for you if you are interested in, or planning to fast before you do it.

I’d love to know your experiences with fasting and calorie deprivation.  Please post them below right now, while it’s on your mind.

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