By: Kelly Gilthorpe Burkenstock, M.D.
Religions have long maintained that fasting is good for the soul, but its health benefits were not widely recognized until doctors began using various fasting diets to treat many issues such as diabetes, obesity and epilepsy. Interestingly, fasting as a treatment for epilepsy dates back to the Roman Era where people with epilepsy were caged and starved to rid them of their demons.
Whether an individual practices fasting for spiritual, health or medical reasons, most people will fast at some point in life.
Intermittent Fasting is a regimen that cycles between periods of fasting, with either no food or significant calorie reduction, followed by periods of unrestricted eating. It changes the body’s composition through loss of fat and weight, while also improving many health parameters associated with disease such as: blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation, obesity, brain health, heart health, aging, andropause and menopause and possibly cancer. Intermittent Fasting drains the body of one’s glucose (sugar) reserves – the main energy source from the foods we eat. Without this glucose reserve, an individual’s body switches to burning fat as fuel – known as ketosis. There are many different versions of Intermittent Fasting; some notable examples include:
5:2 Fast, consisting of eating normally for five days every week and fasting for two days. On the two fasting days the client restricts their calorie intake to 500-600 calories per day. The other five days the client eats normally and unrestricted.
16:8 Fast, clients eat normally and unrestricted for eight hours and fast for the remaining 16 hours- drinking only water and calorie free drinks.
18:6 Fast, clients eat normally and unrestricted for six hours and fast for the remaining 18 hours – drinking only water and calorie-free drinks.
2:5 Juice Cleanse Fast, a quality juice cleanse is used for 48-72 hours, (two or three days), and then clients eats nutritious meals after the cleanse is complete. A low sugar, low salt, all natural juice cleanse, enriched with vitamins, minerals, fiber and PREBIOTICS is best. Clients eat normally (but nutritiously) for four or five days, then fast with a quality juice cleanse for two to three days.
When an individual switches to an Intermittent Fasting diet plan, they upgrade their body’s performance in a number of ways. Their body initiates a number of important hormonal changes which make fat more accessible to burn. There are diverse and powerful benefits thought to occur due to intermittent fasting such as: weight loss, cancer treatment, disease prevention, improved memory, brain restoration, heart health, mood improvement, decrease in insulin resistance, increase in lifespan (Anti-Aging), enhancement in stress tolerance and an upgrade to the immune system. Several trials have shown significant weight loss, without an overall increase in appetite. Though these benefits are proven in animal trials, we await final confirmation from ongoing human trials.
Part 7 Erection Improvement, and Prostate Health with Intermittent Fasting
Around thirty years of age, testosterone levels begin to decline and continues to decline as men age. Reduced testosterone is often accompanied by decreased libido or sex-drive, as well as erectile dysfunction. Current research reveals that at up to 40% of men may occasionally experience Erectile Dysfunction. And while this is true in the United States and other industrialized nations, in underdeveloped areas of the world, men in indigenous tribes mostly do NOT experience low testosterone nor prostate disorder problems!
Why you may ask? Less environmental pollutants, less inflammation, more exercise and better general tribal lifestyles. Read on to discover why and how to protect your penile organ and prostate health.
There are a number of causes of Erectile Dysfunction such as medication side effects, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, chemicals pollutants, xenoestrogens, and synthetic estrogens. Xenoestrogens are man-made destructive estrogens found in our environment- milk and meat from hormone fed cows are an example. Synthetic estrogens from birth control pills make their way from female urine through the sewerage to our rivers and finally into our household water. There are many other sources of these foul xenoestrogens and synthetic estrogens. Xenoestrogens and Synthetic Estrogens and pollutants disrupt the normal male estrogen-testosterone balance and lead to unwanted prostate growth, male infertility, and possible cancer.
Improve Your Prostate Health and Erections
Intermittent Fasting: Recent animal studies and a few preliminary human trials have shown improvement in erectile function and a decrease in abnormal prostate growth with Intermittent Fasting. This may be due to a decrease in inflammation, a decrease in blood sugar (glucose) production, an increase in stem cell production (to upgrade and regenerate the immune system), a decrease in insulin resistance, as well as an increased production of cancer destroying tumor-killing cells.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Focus on good fats, anti-oxidants and clean proteins. Good fats such as coconut oil, grass-fed butter, avocados, olives and olive oil and fish oil provide the key fatty acids needed for optimal testosterone production and prostatic health. Regarding Erectile Dysfunction, the Massachusetts Male Aging Study showed eating a diet rich in natural organic foods: fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts and seeds can delay or prevent Erectile Dysfunction. Choose only grass-fed and free-range dairy and meat products.
Alternatively, red meat, processed meats and foods, and refined junk carbohydrates promote Erectile Dysfunction and prostate inflammation.
Medical grade Quality Fish oil Omega 3 Supplement: It is pertinent that the active ingredients are present in your Omega 3 supplement: EPA at least 600 mg, and DHA at least 400 mg. Medical grade Omega 3 helps to reduce inflammation in the prostate, improve testosterone production and reduces prostate growth.
Anti-Oxidant Consumption: Drink anti-oxidant rich teas such as ginger, saw palmetto, and green tea to assist the body in the detoxification necessary for a healthy prostate. Use anti-inflammatory herbs such as cinnamon, oregano. tumeric, ginger, garlic, and rosemary.
Exercise – Move it or Lose It: A sedentary lifestyle depletes testosterone and inflames the prostate. Throughout the day, walk, cycle, play, etc. because the prostate depends on a good circulation to bring fresh blood and oxygen to the male organs. Regular movement will help reduce inflammation in the body and improve prostate health. According to Harvard, 30 minutes of walking per day was linked to a 41% drop in risk for Erectile Dysfunction. Other studies suggests that moderate exercise can help restore sexual performance in obese middle aged men with Erectile Dysfunction.
Vascular Artery Health: High blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol (Triglycerides and LDL), and an expanding waistline all damage the arteries in the Penis, Heart, and Brain. When the artery damage occurs Erectile dysfunction, and /or heart attack, and/ or stroke ensue. The penile organ has only one main artery easily clogged. Improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar: Better sugar control improves penile and prostate health.The main sources of refined junk carbohydrates are white flour, white bread, white rice, pastries, sodas, snacks, pasta, sweets, breakfast cereals and added sugars. Refined carbohydrates are also added to all sorts of processed foods and processed grains.
Pelvic exercise: A strong pelvic muscle floor enhances rigidity, and helps erection stamina. In a British trial, three months of kegel exercises improved Erectile Dysfunction.
Improve Your Gut Motility: Improving bowel movement frequency and consistency is a key detoxification concept. Consuming an anti-inflammatory diet with good fiber sources such as chia seed and flax seed, using bone broths, fermented foods, probiotics and prebiotics will improve bowel motility.
Good Sleep: It is absolutely critical to sleep well in order to produce healthy sex hormones. Inadequate sleep will result in elevated stress hormone production and lowered testosterone. It also causes blood sugar imbalances and prostatic growth.
Vitamin D3, Zinc and Magnesium: These key nutrients increase testosterone production, decrease prostate growth and detoxify bad xenoestrogens from the body. Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc and magnesium. Vitamin D3 is found in fatty fish- tuna, mackeral and salmon, egg yolks, and mushrooms. Vitamin D3 serum drops work well. Zinc and Magnesium supplements may prove beneficial. Additionally, make green drinks or use super green powders and consume healthy organic meat products.
Practice Deep Breathing: Deep breathing calms an overactive sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system and relaxes the body. This lowers stress hormones and reduces inflammation and abnormal growth in the body.
Avoid Xenoestrogen and synthetic estrogens: Use Natural Products like glass and stainless steel, for cleansing try vinegar or baking soda. Avoid all plastic containers, plastic appliances, plastic storage bags, deodorants, shampoos, household cleaning agents and anything else with xenoestrogen substances. All plastic, not just BPA plastics, contain xenoestrogens.
While inflammation is a good and normal response to injury or trauma, chronic inflammation can lead to lifelong disease and perforations of the gut lining. Some scientific research has found relationships between chronic inflammation and prostate and other cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. As noted in nutrition research, people following Ramadan fasting for religious or cultural obligations have decreased inflammation markers during their Ramadan fasting. This concurs with other scientific research that found longer duration nighttime fasting was associated with decreased inflammation and oxidative stress. Lower levels of both chronic inflammation and oxidative stress may prove to improve gut health, fight off many diseases, including cancer, and offer the body Anti-aging, vitality and longevity.
As opposed to Intermittent Fasting, severe long term fasting results in a reduction in size in most organs, except the brain. The human body goes to great lengths to preserve the most important organ, the brain. Severe long-term fasting is harmful and not recommended.
Foolproof? Unfortunately not. The main reason for success with intermittent fasting is that there is less caloric intake overall, so if an individual binges on massive amounts of food, eats before bed or indulges in high fat, junk carbs and/or processed foods or consistently eats against their personal DNA macronutrient profile, they may not lose any weight at all. They may also not experience many of the other health benefits of Intermittent Fasting.
Some animal studies have shown that food is processed differently at different times of the day. This could be due to fluctuations in body temperature, biochemical reactions, hormone levels, physical activity and/or absorption and digestion of food. In addition, a person’s unique DNA macronutrient profile determines what percent of each macronutrient (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) they are personally built to metabolize most efficiently due to their genetic makeup. This explains why an individual may begin a certain diet plan with a friend (Atkins, Keto-Diet, South Beach Diet, etc.), but the weight lost by each individual may differ.
In essence, I recommend that everyone incorporate a juice cleanse detox into their life with a quality grade juice cleanse product plus raw greens, or one salad per day for several days. This acts as a method of Intermittent Fasting to slow aging and prolong lifespan as an easier alternative to water fasting. Water fasting has a rapidly decreasing effect at removing toxins, as nutrients necessary for the removal also decrease as the water fast progresses. Electrolyte imbalances can also appear.
Juice cleanse fasting with a quality product enables clients to continue to work, and is safer than water fasting. Juice cleanse fasting prevents dehydration, loss of electrolytes and fainting.
A few days of juice cleansing can be a great way to reset an individual’s taste buds, and jump start a new, healthful diet. However, there is no health benefit of trying to use a juice cleanse as a temporary detox. This will inevitably lead the individual to return to their unhealthy diet practices. This Intermittent Fasting magic only works if you stick with a nutritious diet long-term; such as one that is congruent with your DNA macronutrients, and also incorporates some juice cleansing and occasional caloric restriction.
In conclusion, Intermittent Fasting shows promise in cancer treatment and prevention, according to multiple studies. More research is needed to conclude which fasting schedule will produce the best results.
As always, please consult a physician before starting any diet plan if you have any medical conditions, especially if you are a DIABETIC, pregnant or nursing.
Stay tuned to part 8 – Menopause, Andropause and Intermittent Fasting
– Dr. Burkenstock’s articles can also be found on www.healthfitnessmag.com.
– Dr. Kelly Gilthorpe Burkenstock is an internal medicine physician, and has studied abroad with several of the world’s foremost international luminaries. She has locations in Metairie and Mandeville.
For more information, please call 985-869-8400 or 504-502-7600.
Recent Results Cancer Research 2016
Fasting and Caloric Restriction in Cancer Prevention and Treatment, Brandhorst S
Documentary Eat Fast and Live Longer
Dr. Krista Varady, University of Illinois
Dr. Sandrine Thuret, Neuroscientist
Dr. Mark Mattson, National Institute on Aging
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Center for Weight and Eating Disorders.