Fasting for gut healing is a topic I wasn’t sure I’d write about, but here we are. Because I think it’s really important.
Fasting for Gut Healing
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Before I share with you all the reasons I love it, I want to share the dark side of it, too. It’s important to me that whenever I share something that’s “good and healing,” I also share the other side to it. Nothing is ever black and white on the gut healing journey.
Dark Side of Fasting
If you have a history of disordered eating, practicing fasting can quickly become the trigger that makes you relapse. If you’re honest with yourself, you know if this is you or not.
Not practicing it properly
It’s not “gut healing” if, when you are consuming food, it’s filled with 80% SAD (Standard American Diet) foods. And no, this is not me vilifying food. It’s telling you the truth. You can’t eat complete junk 80% of the time while also trying to heal your gut.
If you have diabetes or other conditions where tinkering with blood-sugar levels can have a negative impact, this might not be for you. Also, some medications require certain eating types, foods, and patterns, so work with your doctor always on something like this.
Not for everyone
Maybe it’s just not for you. You’ve tried it time-and-time again; you’ve even willed it into happening. But each time you try it, you fail miserably for one reason or another. Or worse yet, you get sick with some sort of adverse reaction. Even though those who believe fasting is the end-all be all, it’s actually not. Because, in fact, nothing is for everyone.
Benefits of Fasting for Gut Healing
Now, I want to share the benefits and also why I personally love it so much.
First, the true definition of fasting is,
abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink, especially as a religious observance.
I have never practiced a religious fast, but I do practice fasting on a daily basis.
3 Reasons I Believe in Fasting for Gut Healing
Give the digestive system a break
Gut motility is controlled by the nervous system in the gut. This is known as the enteric nervous system. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that relays signals between nerve cells, or neurons, regulating their intensity. 90% of serotonin is contained within the gut (and remember, it’s in control of motility). A major feature of gut motility is the Migrating Motor Complex (MMC, a major feature of gut motility). But if the digestive system is always working, then the MMC never gets the chance to do its job. And its job is to sweep residual undigested material through the digestive tube. Complicated, but you see the chain of events and why it’s important to give your digestive system a break?
Did you know that even your gut microbiome has a circadian rhythm? The circadian rhythm is important on many different levels as it’s the reaction to external cues, such as the light-dark cycle. This is a fascinating topic, and if you want to get inspired to learn more check out THIS research and table 1.
At Cedars-Sinai, they, studied healthy humans to look at the gut microbiome to see how it changes with 2 fasts per week.” And here is what they found, “At the 12-16 hour mark, we saw a dramatic shift in the gut microbiome population after fasting for that period. Certain bacteria are super responsive to fasting, and those tend to be beneficial bacteria. The concept is that with intermittent fasting, you could permanently grow those bacteria and experience the associated benefits.”
How I Fast
- Almost every single day I practice Intermittent Fasting. I’ve written all about it HERE.
- I also practice meal spacing on a daily basis. And I’ve written about that HERE and HERE.
A Typical Day of Fasting for Gut Healing
You’ll find more about how I’ve practiced both Intermittent Fasting and Meal Spacing in the posts linked above, but a general overview looks like this:
- 4:30-7 am: thyroid medication, water, coffee
- 7-9 am sometime: eat a meal, take supplements – no liquids, except for the water with supplements
- 9-12/1 pm sometime: fast, nothing but water, my “special” magnesium/vitamin C water, and coffee/latte usually
- 12-1:30 pm sometime: eat a meal, take supplements, except for the water with supplements
- 1:30 – 5/5:30 pm sometime: fast, nothing but water
- I’d guess a few times a week I am really hungry during this time, so I’ll have a protein bar or something small. And yes, that does break the fast, but see below; no hard rules.
- 5-6 pm sometime: dinner, take supplements – no liquids, except for the water with supplements
- 6-ish: done eating for the day – nothing again until 7 – 9 am the next day (which means my Intermittent Fasting is a max of 15 hours typically).
Fasting for Gut Healing vs. Disordered Eating
I must leave you with some final thoughts about fasting for gut healing vs. fasting as a trigger for disordered eating.
- rules can be broken because there are no hard “rules”
- intentional break for optimal digestion
- in any given 24-hour period, you’re still eating an appropriate amount of calories which include all macros: carbohydrates, fats, and protein
- listening to (and trusting in!) your body
- rules can never be broken
- not eating sporadically for weight loss
- eating only 5 foods you’ve deemed “safe,” at a major caloric deficit
- listening to the voice inside your head that says, “less makes me more”
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Many have studied the correlation of fasting as it relates to SIBO. Since SIBO is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, it makes perfect sense. When you fast, you are not putting anything extra into your small intestine to further the bacteria’s growth.
And I believe that my diligent and intentional fasting practice has been one of the most instrumental ways I’ve kept in 100% remission since 2018.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
- Getting Started (from home) PDF + Zoom Presentation
- The Gut-Brain Connection
- Gut Healing is Not a Diet
You will heal. I will help.