Water Fasting: Are you missing a crucial part of your spring-cleaning routine?
I don’t mean cleaning out your attic or the dust bunnies under your bed. I’m talking about a spring-cleaning for enhancing your personal well-being and health; something that will clean out the cobwebs in your mind, debris in your body, and any stagnation in your spirit.
What would it feel like to actually put yourself first and to obtain the fresh start you are really looking for?
So what is this all-purpose “cleaner?” The answer is water. And water only.
This may sound a bit simple, but the research and history on water fasting are compelling, especially for boosting cognitive functioning, stimulating healing and detoxification, and for spiritual renewal.
Boost Your Brain Power With Water Fasting
While fasting is gaining increasing popularity, especially intermittent fasting, water fasting has been around for centuries. In fact, many famous philosophers, like Pythagoras, would require their students to go on extended water fasts before learning advanced philosophical teachings1.
Research has also shown that fasting helps to improve learning and memory by releasing various molecules, like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)2. Harvard Neuropsychiatrist, John J. Rates, MD, has referred to BDNF as the “Miracle-Gro for the brain.” Low levels of this powerful molecule have even been correlated with depression and Alzheimer’s3.
Intermittent fasting has shown to increase BDNF so much—up to 519%4—that a group of people in the Silicon Valley, called WeFast, have been using fasting as a way to boost their cognitive function and gain a competitive edge.
Improve Your Longevity
BDNF isn’t even the best part about fasting. There are fountain-of-youth-like processes that ramp up during extended water fasts, some of which occur exclusively during fasting. These processes aren’t a whole lot different than your spring-cleaning routine either—when you really think about it.
Imagine that while you’re doing your spring-cleaning you come across some objects that are old and worn down, forcing you to decide if they should be recycled or disposed of entirely.
Our body undergoes similar processes during fasting, called autophagy and apoptosis. Autophagy is basically the recycling phase, whereby cells in our body are broken down and recycled for their cellular components. Apoptosis, on the other hand, is the process whereby cells are disposed of altogether through programmed cell death.
In general, autophagy and apoptosis play essential roles in clearing out damaged or dysfunctional cells, which may help to prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s disease5. And this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the physiological benefits of fasting.
Realign To What Makes You Tick
Similarly to clearing out all the junk in your home during your spring cleaning, water fasting also has the potential to help you let go of your own personal garbage that is getting in the way of your life dreams.
One of the problems of our modern world is that we have become increasingly busier and distracted by things like social media and entertainment. In fact, being busy has become somewhat of a status symbol, as it conveys a certain level of work ethic and determination, whereas having downtime can implicitly convey a degree of laziness or lack of drive.
The true gift of water fasting comes from allowing yourself to slow down, rest, and reflect. This is especially true when you have been fasting for several hours and you begin to feel hungry. Allowing yourself to “sit” with the hunger and discomfort, rather than turning to distraction, is the key to personal transformation and learning more about what you are really hungry for in your life.
There is more…
Not only is water fasting an incredibly cost-effective way to boost your health, its value has stood the test of time and science. But just like getting ready for your spring cleaning, the best results come from being prepared and taking some basic precautions.
For example, it is essential that you drink ample water for your body weight, load up on antioxidants and nutrients beforehand, minimize activity, and properly reintroduce foods upon breaking your fast.
Above all, you should always consult with your physician before undergoing any type of fasts to ensure your safety.
Stay tuned for more information on fasting preparations and other health-related tips by following Dr. Shawn Postma on Facebook.
The contents of this article, such as text, graphics, images, and other material are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice; the content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.
Shawn Postma is a naturopathic physician and founder of Sky Roots Healing. He helps people seeking lasting relief from chronic diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), nonspecific back pain, and anxiety through the use of natural medicine, therapeutic fasting, and mindfulness training.
He holds a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University and a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Puget Sound. He has served as Adjunct faculty at Bastyr University, teaching Homeopathy and Business.
1Counsens, G. (2000). Conscious Eating. Berkeley California. North Atlantic Books.
2Mattson, M.P. et al (2003). Meal size and frequency affect neuronal plasticity and vulnerability to disease: cellular and molecular mechanisms. Journal of Neurochemistry, 84 (3), 417-431. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1471-4159.2003.01586.x
3Autry, A. et al (2012). Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and Neuropsychiatric Disorders. Pharmacological Reviews, 64 (2): 238-258. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310485/
4Duan, W. et al (2001). Dietary restriction stimulates BDNF production in the brain and thereby protects neurons against excitotoxic injury. Journal of Molecular Neuroscience, 16 (1), 1-12. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1385%2FJMN%3A16%3A1%3A1
5Longo. V. et al (2013). Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications. Cell Metab. 19 (2): 181-192. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3946160/pdf/nihms551820.pdf
Great article! Thank you