A lot of medical research have been made into the benefits of intermittent fasting benefits and various articles have been written about this topic and I have no intention to compete with them. This is a tale of my personal experience on how I have benefited from intermittent fasting for cancer patients.
During the last 5 years I have been using intermittent fasting, also shortly referred to as IF, as one of the healing methods for my ovarian cancer, under the supervision of my medical doctor, who is a big believer in Ayurveda and several other natural methods of healing.
Fasting has helped me more than a lot of the chemical treatments, operations and medications have ever done. My story has inspired a lot of people I know to give it a go.
I hope my article will give you, the reader, as well a good overview of the benefits of intermittent fasting, not only for cancer. but a lot of other reasons as well!
If you have any questions, or need encouragement to get started or keep going, you can always write a comment or contact me privately as well. I am happy to help in any way I can.
What Is Intermittent Fasting
Everyone already fasts every single day! Surprised? You shouldn’t be, since you are not eating while you sleep! Even the term of BREAKFAST, the name for the first meal of the day indicated breaking our overnight fast!
Intermittent fasting simply takes the concept further and extends the fast for a longer one than the typical 8h sleep period. For instance people who skip the breakfast and first eat at noon, are in fact practicing intermittent fasting.
Despite what you may think, intermittent fasting is not dangerous and neither is skipping a breakfast, although a lot of people will try to convince you otherwise! It is easy to do and a lot of people state they feel better and have plenty more energy during and after a fast.
Some of the most popular methods are:
16:8 Method – You eat 8h, from noon until 8pm and fast for 16h, from 8pm until the noon next day. Popular with sports fanatics and body builders. Good for growing muscle and loose body fat fast.
4:3 Method – You eat 4 days out of each week and fast 3. You can choose any days you like depending on your schedule. Each of your fasts lasts 36h. This is a popular healing method, explained further in my article.
5:2 Method – Very popular and effective weight loss technique.. However most people who take this route do not do 0Kcal fasts, but rather eat 1/4 of their normal amount of daily calories, either in a single meal during the evening or in tiny meals throughout the day.
Ramadan – Muslims fast for religious reasons during the month of Ramadan. They don’t eat and some don’t drink from sunrise until the sunset.
Yoga Fast – Hinduism and many other eastern religions advocate regular fasting as a way to supreme health and enlightenment, as well as to be used for peaceful protests.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has a lot of health benefits and as mentioned in my introduction, there are plenty available on the Internet, you just need to google them. The National Center for Biotechnology Information also have a lot of studies listed into intermittent fasting methods. I am only going to mention few of the most common benefits.
As mentioned before 5:2 and 4:3 are popular, very effective and fast weight loss methods. The reason for it’s popularity is in the human nature. A lot of people enjoy the 5:2 or 4:3 fasting methods, because it allows them to eat normally on other, non fasting days.
The same methods are popular with weightlifters and professional athletes, who need to control their body mass and fat percentage. It’s more natural and healthy way than to result to chemical supplements. It’s also easier for people to stick to it!
Improve Immune System
There are several conditions which are caused by the weakening of the over all immune system of the body, examples of such being frequent infections and system wide yeast infections.
Intermittent fasting strengthens the immune system and allows the body to rest and regenerate. I will be talking more about the exact process in my next topic, nearest to my heart.
When done right with doctors approval and guidance, intermittent fasting has a very positive effect on blood sugar levels. It stabilities them and lowers fasting sugar, hence being a very effective method for controlling diabetes.
Diabetes type II is also often caused by access weight and since intermittent fasting can also lead to weight loss, this can be considered an additional benefit for diabetic care.
Improve Metabolic Health
A lot of people suffering from metabolic issues, such as IBS and food insensitivities have found relief from fasting, due to the fact that the metabolic system gets to rest and repair during the fasts.
Blood Pressure Control
High blood pressure is often caused by too much starchy carbohydrates in the diet and regularly follows diabetes type II, due to your body producing too much insulin and leptin as a response to your eating habits.
Intermittent Fasting limits the intake of carbohydrates on the fasting days, as it promotes your body to use energy in an efficient way. This lifestyle change can hence help to normalize blood pressure.
Intermittent Fasting For Cancer Patients
Intermittent fasting has been used for healing cancer in many traditional healing practices such as Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. A lot of the cancer clinics using natural healing methods advocate the use of fasting as one of their main healing methods.
Also more and more cancer clinics are realizing the benefits of incorporating intermittent fasting into the traditional cancer treatments. So how can intermittent fasting can help cancer patients? It can provide help in 6 different ways.
- Water Fasting 36h before chemotherapy sessions – Makes the patient less suspect for the side effects of these drastic treatments. Patients experience no nausea and feel more energetic after the treatments than without the fast.
- Kill Cancer Cells – That’s right, fasting actually kills cancer cells. When the patient fasts 36h, the body triggers a starvation mode and looks for places to cut the energy usage. It sends out seek and destroy teams. These specialized cells find the cancer cells, which are considered by the body sick cells and destroy them.
- Improve Immune System – The same starvation mode triggers the body to fight for survival, because bad times are ahead. As a response of this evolutionary survival mode in our DNA, the body itself strengthens it’s immune responses to fight infections and bacterial attacks helping cancer patients to stay healthy from common colds, yeast and bacterial infections.
- Starving The Cancer Cells – Sounds funny, right? The cancer cells feed on sugar and need it to reproduce. During the fasts we live of the fat and stored energy. This slows down the spread of the cancer cells.
- Pain Relief – The fasting also provides cancer patient relief from pain as the process of fasting numbs the bodies pain receptors.
- Detoxify – Fasting helps the body to rid itself of the toxins caused by the chemical cancer cancer treatments, diets and the environment. For stronger effects try infused water.
There are still a lot of people who doubt the medical studies about the benefits of the fasting in cancer treatments. However the overwhelming positive responses from the cancer patients themselves and the effectiveness of traditional treatments combined with fasting, are triggering more and more studies into this area, hopefully making it mainstream with the next few years!
What Are The Downsides of Intermittent Fasting
Fasting is definitely not easy, in fact it’s one of the hardest things I have ever done. I have listed here some of the problems I know of, I am sure there are several others.
Some medical conditions
There are some illnesses might exclude you from doing intermittent fasting or only be able to fast under strict medical control. If you have issues with blood sugar or blood pressure, you have to do it with guidance of a doctor and be prepared for regular checkups.
Feeling of Hunger
Your mind will play tricks on your and convince you will die or faint unless you eat immediately! This couldn’t be further from the truth unless if you have blood sugar level or blood pressure problems, in which case you need to be extremely careful when attempting to fast.
During fasts, you are using reserve fat stores in your body and using them for energy. Your blood sugar levels will be stable.
Do not give into snacking, it will make you even more hungry to get a small amount of food into your system. Drinking hot drinks will help with hunger and the feeling will fade over the time.
Some people experience headache during the fasts. Most of the time this is caused by nagging feeling of hunger. We are simple thought to listen to the signals of hunger and immediately obey. When not, we are mentally worried about starvation, even though we know this to be untrue.
Taking headache pills on fasting days is bad. Get some fresh air and gentle exercise, this will help to relieve the headache naturally! Take a nap and get refreshed!
Dizziness, Weakness And Nausea
Some people experience dizziness, weakness and nausea when they start to fast. Some of it is mental dependency on food, but at some times during strenuous activity dizziness can get hold of the faster.
Also your body ridding is itself of the toxins and chemicals, which in it’s turn causes some detoxification symptoms! Some people experience them stronger than others.
Avoid going from cold to hot and other way around too fast. Avoid getting up too fast. Both dizziness and nausea will disappear once you gain more experience with fasting. Avoid excessive strenuous physical activity during fasts.
You will feel cold, your feet and hands like ice due to temporary lowering of your metabolism during fast days. On some fasting days you will just want to sit in front of the fireplace under the blanket, sipping hot tea and reading a book.
Dress warmly and keep extra items of clothing, not forgetting gloves, scarfs and hats with you. Drink plenty of hot tea to keep warm and hydrated!
It’s difficult to keep up with your social life when you are fasting. If it’s just a dinner outside with friends, you can often inform them that you can’t eat that particular day and suggest an other, but big meetings with a lot of people are often really hard for people who fast. You have to decide to either not to fast of be prepared to a lot of negative feedback about you ruining the mood.
Some people simply will never believe you when you talk about the benefits of the fasting. They are absolutely convinced that you will DIE if you don’t eat every 3-5h and also think that cancer patients should eat well to keep healthy.
The fact they know nothing about fasting and are not willing to educate themselves, means they will be talking bad things about fasting and trying to convince you to give up all together.
Prepare for the fact that they will be eating things in front of your nose and even offering it to you to try to break your will. If you do, they congratulate you for being sensible! The will push emotionally guilt trip you into not ruining certain event for them.
My Personal Intermittent Fasting Routine
Because fasting is part of my cancer treatments, I do 0Kcal 36h fast at the time. I eat nothing and only drink herbal teas and infused water. I try to keep to the following strict routine.
- I fast Monday-Wednesday-Friday
- I eat normally Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday-Sunday
This means I stop eating Sunday evening at 8pm. I fast the whole Monday. No snacks, no food, only herbal or green tea and infused water. No oral medications on these days. Tuesday morning at 8am I break my fast and have hence completed 36h fast!
Tuesday I eat normally between 8am and 8pm, being careful not to overeat, but making sure to get enough calories, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. I keep hydrated and keep the more strenuous exercise for the days I eat.
That’s my normal rhythm, also called 8:36 fasting, referring to hours I eat and fast or 4:3 fasting, referring to days of the week I eat and fast.
My Fasting Problems
Allowing myself the weekends off helps me to enjoy some good home cooked meals together with my family. I used to fast every second day, but it was mentally very hard during the weekends and confusing for my loved ones, who were never able to keep track of my fasting days!
Can I always do it? No way! There are times when I give up and don’t fast for a day or even few weeks at the time. What causes me to lose track? Most of the time one of the following:
- Extreme Stress – work work work
- Emotional Imbalance – lots of it around for cancer patients
- Illness – lowered immune system makes me prone and I have very little will power when poorly
- Pain – extreme pain from my kidneys
- Holiday Times – love tasting new foods and enjoying eating out
- Special Occasions – birthdays, celebrations, camps, conferences, business dinners
- Travel – difficult on the road, bored while driving
- Weather – extreme cold weather
As you see there are several reasons why I sometimes fail my fasts, food is after all considered as a comforter and emotional reward by most of us!
I would say from my experiences that there are times when I manage months at the time without once breaking the rhythm and then weeks when everything goes wrong and I struggle with every single one of my fasts.
Is this ideal? No, of course not, I should be able to do it 100% of the time, since it’s a question about my health, right? WRONG! Even my doctor tells me that managing 80% of the time is an amazing defeat of basic human instinct. He tells me to be proud of myself!
I normally give myself a permission to eat normally during holidays, but restarting fasting after 2 weeks of normal eating is a nightmare and the bad effects on my condition are immediate! So I try to keep to at least 1 fasting day a week during vacations.
My Recommendations For IF Beginners
Getting started with fasting is not easy! Anyone who has ever tried it, knows it! In order to overcome some of the problems, I have put together some hints and tips, which will help you to get started!
- Seek Doctors Advice – Before you start with fasting, you should talk to your doctor. Not all doctors are happy with ideas of alternative cancer treatment methods, so you might need to look around before you find a good one willing to explore fasting as healing option together with you.
- Start Slowly – It will take a while before both your body and mind get used to fasting. Take it slowly and start with eating less few days a week, before moving to fasting for longer periods of time.
- Keep Hydrated – It is important to drink enough when you are fasting. Herbal and green tea, together with water infusions will be your best friend.
- Keep a Fasting Diary – It will help you to note down your feelings and your problems, as well as your progress and healing. You will enjoy reading it later or sharing with others!
- Seek Support – Tell the friends and family what you are doing, their support will be a key for your success! It will be much easier to fast without someone constantly snacking next to you at home or work. There are also plenty of online groups that can help you on the days you struggle!
ॐ Love and Peace,
P.S. If you want to learn how to deepen your meditation experience, take a look at the Ayurveda aroma experience These essential oils have a subtle, yet extremely powerful influence on our mind and body.